Why is communication an essential skill for an online learner?
In this topic you will work through a range of strategies which will enable your writing to communicate effectively as an online learner.
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In this topic you will practise a strategy to help you recognise the importance of your role and your audience’s expectations when communicating your ideas effectively online.
Effective communication is an essential part of everyday life. It enables us to participate and engage with others in all areas: personal, professional and social.
The ability to communicate effectively is particularly important in an online learning environment as you will encounter many situations throughout your studies in which you will be required to engage with others to communicate your ideas, ask questions and share information.
Writing is the primary way in which you will communicate and it plays a vital role in your online learning. The written word represents your voice and you will communicate in a variety of different formats. Here are some key things to remember about written communication:
- Writing is slower than speaking: although you have more time to think about what you want to say, you cannot express yourself as quickly as you would in conversation.
- You don’t receive non-verbal or physical cues: eye contact, nods or gestures are absent from online communication so it can be hard to know if what you are ‘saying’ has been understood.
- You don’t always get immediate feedback: lack of feedback or response can be frustrating when you have limited time for your work.
Therefore, it is useful to have a strategy to make the most of opportunities to communicate with other students, and to ensure that you are clear, concise and appropriate when interacting with your tutor.
During your study you will communicate with others through a variety of different media and each will require you to write in an appropriate way. You may be:
- sending emails
- participating in discussion boards
- attending online classrooms (or webinars)
- instant messaging (for example, WhatsApp, Messenger etc.)
- writing blogs
- completing assessed work such as essays and presentations*
* your assignments require you to demonstrate your understanding of the topic / subject you are studying and are a key way in which you communicate this understanding to your tutors.
You will look at ways in which you can activate your voice through writing to help you to participate in your online course. You will need to develop a number of skills to do this effectively and the following pages will explore this in more detail.
Firstly, you will consider a strategy to help you to understand your role as a writer. Using this strategy will enable you to ensure that your writing communicates your ideas in a clear and consistent way that meets the expectations of your reader(s).
In addition, this strategy will ensure that your writing is properly planned and it will help you to begin thinking about how best to structure longer pieces of writing.
Following this, you will explore how you can communicate effectively with other students, your tutors and those who may read your work.
Lastly, you will look at assessment, and how you can make your own voice heard whilst adhering to the required conventions of academic writing.