Online Relationships for the Home Study Student

About this article
Building relationships with people face-to-face is hard enough for many people. When you take away the personal contact, it makes relationships more difficult to build and maintain. This article focuses on how to build relationships with others in an online community.
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There are many reasons you might choose to get your online diploma. Time is surely one of those factors. You can do the assignments at your own pace whenever you want. You may have a family, a job, or a number of things that constrain your time. Still, did you stop to consider that getting your online diploma could help you meet people too? Many creators of online educational material have not forgot about the human factor in learning. The following five ways, adapted from about.com, give you ideas about how to make yourself heard and how to meet people:

- Become a regular on message boards

- Join discussion in chat rooms

- Keep in touch with email

- Use instant messaging

- Remember netiquette

Message Boards are usually part of any homestudy curriculum. People post everything on them, from comments on the class to personal information. Don't be left out. Read messages, respond to them, and post your own messages.

Chat rooms are usually another part of the homestudy curriculum. Here you can talk in 'real time' to many different people. Your class may have designated times at certain 'online locations' where your class can meet. If not, check for any 'open' chatrooms where you can talk to people. Otherwise, as about.com states, talk to your instructor or peers to see if they know of any chat rooms related to your class.

Email is the one aspect of Internet technology that most people are familiar with. Take advantage of your knowledge of this instrument of communication. If your email skills are lacking, brush up on them. You will find email is a great method of communicating with your friends. You can make lengthy complaints about the difficulty of the class, say a quick hello, or show them a picture or two of a recent trip.

Instant messenger, like a chat room, allows you to talk to someone, well, instantly. As long as the other person has the same instant messenger as you, and they are online too, you both can talk free. You typically need to download an instant messenger program to your computer for it to work; however, some instant messengers offer an express program from their website that runs through the Internet. Take advantage of the many FREE instant messengers out there. About.com gives the example of America Online (AOL) instant messenger (normally abbreviated AIM).

If you're new to the online community, you need to understand netiquette. As about.com notes, the Internet has certain social taboos - just like real life. Don't do the following:

- Type in all capital letters (people consider this to be yelling)

- Post advertisements to your site on message boards that are meant for other discussion

- Forward hoax emails

Like it or not you are giving people impressions of who you are even while online. By doing some common sense decent things (stuff you would probably do in 'real' life anyway) like showing up on time for a discussion, being available to talk, answering email and being considerate, you will make a great impression and a lot of friends.

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The George Washington University

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Judson University

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Colorado State University Global

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