How To Make Friends in Distance Education

Distance education is the delivery of essential knowledge and skills through cost-effective technologies that do not require regular face-to-face instructions. This has been an effective means of reaching teachers and students in remote areas. Apart from being a good medium of instruction, distance education also makes friendships possible across geographic divides. Students get the chance to know each other, even if you come from different parts of the country or different parts of the world. If you're interested in making friends with your classmates, here are a few tips.

  • Get to know your classmates. Projects and modules are usually assigned on an individual basis, especially for distance education courses that don't require a conference type of online meeting. But for those projects where you are assigned group mates or partners, you can start getting to know your classmates by talking about things other than schoolwork. You might have shared interests that you can exchange ideas about.

  • Communicate regularly. Regular communication by email, chat or even VoIP facilitates interaction, and can help you work better on your school assignments and studies. If you cannot understand some concepts or lessons, you can ask your online classmates. This also fosters personal communication, in that your presence, even if online, provides for good companionship.

  • Use online tools to "see" each other. Given the distance, you might have difficulties pursuing friendships with your classmates because you cannot physically see them. But with a webcam and a voice conference such as with Skype, you can see each other while you communicate. This helps you and your virtual friends become more comfortable with each other, because you won't have to wonder what the other person looks like, or if he is how he describes himself.

  • Use offline tools to communicate, too. Chatting and sending email might be the quickest way to communicate with friends over a long distance. But you can also try communicating offline, such as by sending letters or postcards. Or in those instances when you need to send over projects or school works through physical means, why not include personal gifts, too?

  • Go beyond friendship inside the virtual classroom. Most friends at school are friends out of convenience. You might share the same class, same school bus, or same lunch schedule, but once you graduate or move up a level, you might find different sets of friends. The same goes with friends in distance education. After you finish your course, you might find yourself slipping away from your friends because you will no longer have shared classes. But if you can endeavor to still keep communicating, and still sharing interests, you can maintain the friendship long after. Perhaps you and your long distance friends can also sign up for more distance education courses together.

Making friends from a distance needs a balanced approach. You must have reasons why you want to make friends. Distance education does not usually require peer-to-peer encounters among students, but this can sometimes be helpful. Some subjects might be difficult to understand by oneself, so you need peers to talk to, and they might be located in a location far from your own. As a student, however, you need to be always reminded of your reasons behind making acquaintances with your classmates, which is primarily to advance your education. But sometimes things take a twist, and you might find yourself people who are genuinely interested in you not just for academics, but also for friendship. When this happens, you have a double success with distance education.


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