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Written by Dr. Dee

August 30, 2020

Hello…Is there anybody out there


Have you ever emailed your online instructor and never received a response?  Or maybe you heard back from them days later.  I can remember back in graduate school when this happened to me and I felt very discouraged and lost.  I was the type of student that was independent and would try everything to problem solve myself before I would ever reach out to a professor.  So, if I was going to ask for help it was for good reason.  This pivotal moment was not only frustrating, but actually changed my mindset about online learning and eventually my career path.

Communication in the Eyes of the Online Student

As an online student I often would spend hours trying to figure out how to complete assignments because I did not want to bother my instructor, however, this was actually bad practice and not very efficient use of my time as I would come to find out.  As a student you should never feel embarrassed or unknowledgeable when contacting your instructor.  It is their job to help you in any way they can.  Keep in mind that you should make sure that you know exactly which communication modes you can use to contact them as well as the times (keeping in mind zones) they are available.  Today, some instructors can be reached in real-time using synchronous modes or even by text.  Be sure that you understand that they also have family and work lives so be cognizant of days and times before reaching out.  There also is most likely a university policy of how long they have to respond to your messages.  Use your resources, such as reviewing the course syllabus or asking your advisor if you are unsure of the communication policies at your school.

Communication in the Eyes of the Online Instructor

One of the expectations of an online professor is to build a relationship with their students.  Building this relationship is to make the student feel comfortable with the instructor so that he or she will be more apt to contact them with questions or for help.  As an online instructor who cares about my students, I offer live lectures, respond to emails promptly, provide tutoring in a real-time synchronous mode, and assist my students with not only the course content they are learning but with all types of things that will help aide them in being the best online student they can be.  I always reach out to students that fall behind or who are even failing my classes.  I will email, call and even text – however sometimes I never hear back from them.  Can you hear the Crickets…?  There is no worse feeling than wanting to help someone and being ignored – especially when I know they have read that text message I sent.  So, if you are a student that has not responded to your instructor, please at least write back and say something.  I know it may be frustrating to you – as you most likely know that you are failing and here, I am pointing that out to you – but I just need to know that you are okay.   There is nothing wrong with just letting your online instructor that you had a bad week or that you have been procrastinating – we are human too.  Keep in mind that your instructor can help you devise a plan to get back on track.  Remember, that communication is a two-way street and crucial in this online learning environment.


  • Don’t ever be afraid to contact your online instructor.  This is your education, take control of it.  They are there to help you.
  • Know your instructors and the universities communication policies and contact resources.  If you have an unresponsive instructor contact your academic adviser (your personal resource for everything)
  • Always respond to your instructor’s communication attempts.  We do care about you personally and your studies.  We do enjoy working with you.

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