Talking to Your Instructor and Classmates

In a lecture when you want to ask a question, you raise your hand and wait for the instructor to call on you. You listen to, and participate in, class discussions and you might work together on a project in a small group. You still get to do all of those things in an online course - you just use a different method of communicating. For one-to-one communication - for example, you have a question you'd like to ask one person only - you'll use email. If you're already familiar with using email, and have a favourite program, then there's no reason why you can't keep using it in this course. If you're new to email, then we recommend that you use the program that comes with Netscape. (We've got instructions for helping you with that one.)

There are times when you're going to want to - or you'll need to - communicate and work with more than one person. That's where the computer conference comes in. Imagine that an interesting conversation is going on in a room. You didn't arrive at the same time as everyone else, but you can still hear all of the discussion that happened before you got there. And someone who arrives after you leave will still be able to hear what you said when you were in the room, too. That's how asynchronous computer conferences work. You can read messages from classmates, and post messages for everyone else to read, without having to be online at the same time as anyone else. All the messages are there waiting for you when you click on a conference.

The conferences are arranged according to topics or purposes - for example, your class might have a conference devoted to Introductions, or to discussing a particular question for the week. Or you might have a conference for a small group working together on a case study. Most classes have a Coffee Shop conference, where you can "meet" your classmates and talk about anything but homework! Individually or as a group - you'll have lots of ways to feel connected to the other people in your class.