I took a single online course during my time at university. Even though I was taking the class through my university and I had access to Blackboard, an online course website, I felt pretty alone. I was afraid to ask questions, didn’t know where I could interact with other students, and as a result, I didn’t do very well in the class. When I came to work for Career Step 8 years ago, one of the first things that very much impressed me was not only the attention to student support and student outcomes, but the abundance of ways a student could get help. In today’s post, I’d like to round up a few of the most important resources so that you, as a student, never have to feel alone.
Instructor support via phone and email.
Your instructors are available by phone Monday through Friday 9 am to 7 pm Eastern time. Instructors can explain difficult concepts, provide study tips, suggest ways to motivate you, and they are really great at just listening if you need to talk through concepts with someone else.
Your instructors are also available via email at any time. Even if your instructors aren’t in the office at the time, you can send them an email with your questions and they will respond when they get back in to the office. This method of support is great if you need to see something visually presented to you or you want to save the response for a later time.
Tips for using these resources effectively: Before calling in, it may be helpful to take some time to write down all the questions you need to ask. I know that when I get on the phone with someone, I often forget all the items I need to discuss. Writing down your questions can also help you to keep on track with your discussion. When you do call, be sure to state your name and, if possible, have your student ID number ready. That number was provided on your enrollment email and can really help your instructor in locating your student record so they can provide the best assistance. If you are sending in an email, be as detailed as necessary to get your questions across. Also, be sure to proofread your email for typos. Typos can skew the meaning of an email and make it difficult for an instructor to answer your questions effectively.
Ask An Instructor Chat.
The Ask An Instructor Chat was started only about a year ago, but it has been a huge success! This is a chat room in our student and graduate community (http://community.careerstep.com) where you can pop in during the hours of 9 am to 7 pm Eastern time to get your questions answered by your instructors via instant message, then you can pop back out when you are done. It is a fantastic resource if you have a quick question or prefer online support to talking on a phone.
Tips for using this resource effectively: This chat room is un-moderated (meaning questions post live as soon as you ask them) so it can get a bit confusing from time to time. If you see a question is awaiting an answer, it is best etiquette to wait until that question is answered before asking yours. The chat room also features a handy roster on the right side of the screen where you can view who is in the chat room. All instructors have a tag with the name of the course they teach next to their screen name. If you do not see an instructor for your course, please wait until you do before posting a question. This helps prevent confusion and frustration. If you wait for a little while and an instructor for your course is unable to pop in, that’s okay! Our best advice is to then send your question via email or give your instructor a call. They will be happy to assist you in any way they can!
Email this Page tool.
Your online course comes equipped with a number of tools to help you succeed. One of the coolest tools is the Email this Page tool. You can find this in your Tools box on the left-hand side of your course website. This tool allows you to send us an email with a copy of the page you are working on. This is great because you can show us the results of an exercise, a question about the content on the page, or an error you would like clarification on. This tool also allows you to send the page to tech support if you are having technical trouble with it. To send us a copy of the page or results you are looking at, just click on the + sign next to Email this Page, then click the button for Send to Support Services. Fill in the brief form and click send. It will inform you when the email has been sent. Then, you can sit back, relax, and wait for a response from your instructors.
Tips for using this resource effectively: The main problem students have with this tool is that they forget to click the Send to Support Services button so the email only comes to them and not an instructor too. Carefully check the form before sending it to ensure that you are, indeed, sending a copy of the results or page to your instructor as well as you. Also, be sure to detail your question in the comments/questions box so that we know what to look for on the page you send over.
There are many more resources available to help you in progressing through the course, but we hope you liked this round-up of the 3 most important support resources. As always, don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns. We stand ready to assist in any way we can!
Onward and upward!
Executive Assistant/Microsoft Office Instructor