Effective Communication is Important When You Are an Online Student

Online students need effective communication skills, even more so than their classroom counterparts. While the same applies to online teachers, the job falls mostly on students, who must hone their skills in written, audio, and video communication.

Students lead in this area because in online courses teachers cannot pick up visual cues that alert them when a student needs support in the classroom. Online courses require students to advocate for themselves, using tools supplied by their school. This can include direct messaging, video conferencing, chat rooms, or “cell phone office hours.”

The structure of online courses also requires students to master writing skills to complete homework and exams. Both usually involve written work only.

The need to sharpen these skills applies to all online students, from those earning an online associate of arts in general studies to those taking advanced online courses to earn a doctorate. These skills serve you beyond graduation and throughout your career. They apply today more than ever as more jobs allow for remote work.

Areas of Effective Communication for Students

Online courses require a robust set of skills across a range of communication channels. Most fall within these topics.


Homework, tests, and exams require writing skills. Students must master how to get their point across using as few words as possible. The same applies to contact with teachers and fellow students. Years of social media have taught us how easily vague words, misunderstood humor, and imprecision can mar any type of written message.


Students may present their work to teachers or the class through video. They may have one-on-one meetings with teachers in the same way. In all cases, sturdy speaking skills are key. Also, in terms of how you look on video, the Open Education Database (OED) states students show respect for others by approaching these meetings as you would an office job. That includes moving objects in the background that might distract or offend others and dressing appropriately.


Audio communication skills are something people have dealt with for many decades. The same challenges still apply to online students. When people cannot see you, visual cues can’t make something that is complex or unclear more understandable. Students also need good speaking skills when discussing coursework on the phone with teachers or when discussing group projects with fellow students. It’s important to practice and perfect verbal skills so you use the right words to convey your meaning without being vague or misleading.

TUW Offers Students Support

Many schools offer a guide to success as an online student. Touro University Worldwide does this through an online student orientation every TUW student takes before starting class. Students receive details on TUW services as well as school policies. They may also meet staff and learn about the technology needed for online classes.

The program strives to increase student success and create comfort in using the online learning system. This includes knowing about the many useful communication channels created by TUW.

As pointed out by OED, the rules around online class communication are, for the most part, the same as those applied to classes on campus. Respect for the other person is key, as well as asking questions when you need help and applying a precise vocabulary. Students who practice these skills will become better communicators over time.

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