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Despite distance, online learners build lasting connections

Oregon State Ecampus alumni share the importance of engaging with peers and instructors

Graduates from the Class of 2018 shared how connecting with faculty and classmates grew their professional communication skills and enriched their online learning experience.

By Julie Cooper
Jan. 17, 2019

Oregon State University’s online learners do what many say can’t be done: form genuine connections in the digital classroom.

Learning outside of the traditional face-to-face classroom setting, Oregon State Ecampus students and faculty get creative to connect with one another across distance, time zones and demanding schedules.

Building a network with classmates and instructors is essential for success long after a student completes their degree. For Oregon State graduates like Lisa Frasieur, becoming versed in multiple communication methods and technologies offers a leg up in an increasingly global job market.

Collaborating with classmates in the business administration program online helped Lisa refine her professional communication skills – even after two decades in the workforce near Eugene, Oregon.

“It was a great experience being able to connect with students using video conferencing and phone calls,” Lisa says. “It was just a different way of interacting with people, and I think it really helped me polish and brush up even my professional skills, because there are so many times when you are communicating with people at different locations.”

For many nontraditional distance students – who aren’t physically on campus alongside their classmates – reaching out to peers, instructors and advisors for support presents a reminder that they aren’t alone in the challenges and accomplishments along the path to a degree.

“Our instructor encouraged us to meet up with other Ecampus students in our area,” says Cara Sugg, an Ecampus anthropology alumna from Charlotte, North Carolina. “At the time, I was living in Seattle and I met up with my Spanish partner.

“We had a blast and it truly felt as though we had been sitting in a lecture hall together for the past eight weeks. The engagement was super beneficial because it reminded me that there were plenty of other students on the trek with me.”

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