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Academic Outreach

Faculty Focused

What Would Online Students Tell You If They Could?

Posted on: February 11th, 2015 by Jennifer Bland

These comments are from a survey by the CONNECTICUT DISTANCE LEARNING CONSORTIUM. Here at the University of Mississippi, we sometimes hear similar comments from online students. I thought you might like to read some of the items.

What Online Students Want to Tell Online Instructors?Decorative

  • Design a course that is clear and well organized.
  • Make sure we know what is expected and when.
  • Clear deadlines are important to students.
  • Course outlines should better outline all the assignments that must be completed. That way it would be easier to gauge your time.
  • Be patient and available. Please remember that some of us are first time online learners and are still trying to figure out this method of teaching and learning.
  • Facilitate student access to other students by helping them share email and phone numbers so they can communicate among each other easily.
  • Be accessible. “Quick response to my questions” was so nice. At least let us know when we can expect a response.
  • Professor X sent emails of concern when she saw things going wrong. I did not feel ‘alone’.
  • If you are going to assign group projects, do so with the knowledge that we signed up for these courses due to their time flexibility.
  • Make sure students have the ability to communicate with you alone, outside of the course conferences. “Sometimes it has made me feel stupid to ask a question that everybody in the classroom already knew.”
  • Give frequent feedback on assignments so students have a sense of what they have mastered and where they need to focus attention.
  • Students should be able to examine the course syllabus and curriculum before signing up for the course.
  • Have early lists of required books with ISBN numbers so students can order online.

Burton, L., & Goldsmith, D.  (July 2002).  Students’ Experiences in Online Courses: A Study Using Asynchronous Online Focus Groups.  Retrieved from

Photo Credit: Image adapted from Finger face with a question by Tsahi Levent-Levi | CC BY 2.0