Remote Learning Communication: How to Best Connect with Students


The global transition toward remote communication has been one of the most profound and lasting effects recent world events have had. Students and teachers, employers, employees, and even families have had to adapt to the growing need to interact wirelessly.

Modern technology has made it easier than ever for anyone to connect with other people, even other people on the other side of the world. Email, phone chat apps, and virtual telephone services that let anyone contact toll-free numbers internationally at low cost, together with cloud storage, are just a few relatively recent technological developments driving the modern trend toward institutional decentralization.

While market pressures act on businesses to compel them to adapt to the changing digital landscape, new communication technologies have a different effect on students and teachers in the academe. In the academe, institutions are subject to less pressure to modernize. Many schools and the parents of the students there are pushing for a return to the way things were —face-to-face classes and less usage of devices. But, is the way things were really the best way for us to learn and teach moving forward?

In this article, we’ll be taking a look at the different benefits, negatives, costs, and savings that remote learning communication techniques and technologies can offer to teachers, as well as students. 

Remote Learning Communication Tips

Students and teachers trying out remote learning for the first time tend to think of the exercise as —essentially— just a regular class, but done from the comfort of wherever participants happen to be at the scheduled times. When there are no issues, remote learning set-ups can be very similar to regular, face-to-face classes. But well-planned remote learning courses need to have contingencies in place to respond to and resolve a lot of different potential problems that would not be cause for even minor concerns in a regular class.

This section will go over a few things for teachers and students to consider to make their remote learning as fruitful, painless, and productive as possible.

Online Communication Tips for Teachers

It’s been a couple of years since education began moving rapidly into online spaces. So, teachers are working under heavier expectations to be familiar with the new remote learning tools they have at their disposal. If you’re an educator and you don’t yet have any experience with remote learning software, then you’re already behind the curve —and if you don’t take the time to learn, you’ll only fall further behind your peers.

What specific software programs and applications you need to learn will vary from educational institution to educational institution. Many larger universities have developed and made use of their own in-house suite of remote learning tools. Still, there are other remote learning solutions developed by third parties and made available for any school willing to pay for access. There are whole companies built on developing cutting-edge remote learning tools for the education industry.

Because of the diversity in the tools available, your best resource for actually learning how to make use of any single online education program will be that program’s developer. If you teach at a school that’s developed its own in-house online education tools, then contact your employer to receive training. On the other hand, schools making use of third-party remote education tools will usually have one or two members of the faculty assigned to work closely with the school’s remote education service providers. If you work for a school that’s opted for a third-party remote learning solution, find out which department handles the training program for new faculty users. This will usually be the IT department of an educational institution. 

Becoming well-versed in the features and functions of your institution’s remote learning tools is the first step towards maximizing the benefits they can deliver to your classes. Once you’re familiar with the basics, you can start applying best practices for online educators. These best practices are —for the most part— system-agnostic. That is to say that, regardless of the particularities and quirks of whatever online teaching program you use, the following best practices will serve well to enhance the classes you teach.

Best Practices for Online Educators

Build Reliable Communication Channels

Students communicate differently from teachers; this is true whether learning is taking place in the classroom or in a Zoom meeting. Variables such as the level of instruction, how classes are structured, and different course requirements further complicate communication between students and teachers.

During an online class, teachers may find that they’re unable to allocate time to provide feedback to each student. Because it can be harder to communicate effectively with individual students when conducting classes online, communication during online classes becomes even more important.

The best way to establish working communication channels with your students is to make sure you are making use of all of the different means of communication available to you. Be sure to check for emails from students regularly and reply promptly. If you feel comfortable with giving your students a phone number they can dial to contact you directly, then this is another good option. If you’re using a website or software to manage your students’ learning pace, then familiarize yourself with that tool, as well. 

There are many methods available for students to reach out to their teachers; making use of these to attend to the needs of your students is the best way to encourage them to reach out to you with their concerns. Students that can discuss their expectations will be better prepared to perform to your expectations.

Establish Routines

At the start of the semester, you, as the primary facilitator of your classes’ learning outcomes, should make an effort to contact your students as soon as possible. It is understandable to expect your students to show initiative in opening communication channels with you, but not at the expense of hindering your scheduled lessons. 

The younger your students are, the more you should be prepared to adjust to fit their needs. Working with Master’s and post-graduate studies students is less taxing as these advanced students understand that their learning also has to depend on themselves.

First impressions can set the tone for the rest of the semester. By proactively engaging your students, you prime them for the routine activity of checking in with you. You can remind your students to send their questions to you early on so that, moving forward, they know how they can reach you.

When dealing with students with problematic study styles or less-than-ideal IT setups, be clear with your expectations of them. But, also try to be accommodating, as this will help to frame your online class in a positive, cooperative, and collaborative light. Regardless of how stringent or accommodating you decide to be, the first and most important routine you want to establish is the energy level of the class —if you show your students that you are passionate about teaching, then they will know what you expect from their participation.

Promote Engagement and Communication

To keep your students engaged, be sure to keep them regularly updated on the coverage of your classes. If you do encounter difficulty sticking to your lesson plan due to issues teaching the subject matter, or unforeseen technical problems, then inform your students and ask for their input. Students passionate about learning will try their best to accommodate their schedules to make time for any make-up classes you may need to schedule.

If you are aware of a looming scheduling conflict or lesson backlog, you need to be forthcoming with your class. These issues become more difficult to solve if left unaddressed —your students may feel that your lesson plan is unrealistic or that you aren’t covering each topic to the level they would like. 

Don’t neglect scheduling and communication problems because unresolved; they have a knock-on effect that can exacerbate new issues that arise. Failure to promptly establish the proper level of supervision over your classes can lead to unmanageable student needs for supervision and, ultimately, to dissatisfied students.

Remember that to promote engagement, you should keep your class discussions lively, interesting, and relevant to students’ personal lives, if possible. You can spark interest by teaching what you know; work from your personal experiences and ground your lessons there. 

Another way to make class activities more engaging is to create or modify your class assignments to relate to current events. Whatever you do, if you can bring your energy into the classroom, your students will be able to pick up from you and carry that energy over into their class submissions.

Be Proactive

Make yourself available to your students; set some time every week to meet with concerned participants and provide consultations. Students appreciate educators who are accessible and easy to reach, communicative, accommodating, and consistent. If you plan for your class to have assignments due regularly, make sure that everyone in your class is aware of this.

Teachers need to master the art of communicating effectively when they are outnumbered. You will almost always have to deal with communicating your expectations to more students than you can realistically individually attend to. To make your job easier, let your students know what their weekly priorities should be; take the time to keep your syllabus updated and be the one to remind the class where they need to be in your syllabus to be prepared before the start of every class.

A positive, proactive attitude towards your students will reduce the risks of miscommunication. To foster the right attitude, it’s vital that you take into account, as much as possible, that every student faces their own unique learning challenges. Working with your students to find solutions to the issues that they face will keep them motivated and hard-working, and it will help you build up their trust.

Online Communication Tips for Students

As students, we have a responsibility to ourselves to engage with our teachers honestly and without fear. Students who act too timidly when it is time to ask questions during class tend to exhibit lower levels of class participation. Professors can only do so much to encourage students to engage with their lessons; at the end of the day, it’s up to each of us, as students, to ask questions and raise our issues with our teachers.

It’s difficult to be in a position where you’re afraid to reach out to your teacher; if it’s reached that point, you’re likely already struggling with following the class. Knowing how to reach out to your teachers is the first step to building your confidence as a student. As early as possible, students should be opening lines of communication with their teachers; this way, they will be able to more easily work with their teachers to ask for help and bring their attention to any learning issues they encounter.

In this section, we’ll go over the best practices students need to be aware of so that they can make the most of their online education.

Best Remote Learning Practices for Students

Don’t Be Shy

If you have a question, ask. Online classes typically need to follow very strict schedules, so if you don’t ask your question immediately while it is still relevant to your current lesson, you may not get the chance to ask again.

Most teachers also appreciate questions that relate the current topic of discussion to aspects of students’ experiences. Professors will feel that their classes are engaging with the subject matter, and they are always eager to relate their fields of expertise to practical problems that their students face outside of the classroom setting.

Be Resourceful

Always check your class syllabus for optional or supplementary resources. If you have the time to incorporate these optional resources into your study plan, you’ll be giving yourself an easy way to impress your professor. If you are having a hard time finding sources for a class’s optional materials, then reach out to your professor. This lets your professor know that you care about learning the material that they have to teach, and it is a perfect opportunity to impress them.

Take Care of Your Computer

It should come as no surprise that remote learning depends on your ability to stay connected remotely. A good internet connection and a powerful computer will certainly help. It’s vital that students ensure their equipment is functioning properly. Professors can only give so much leeway. Consider investing in a better internet connection or computer if frequent lag and connectivity issues are negatively affecting your ability to follow your class discussion.


Schools have adapted to using technology to enhance remote learning; both teachers and students can enhance their academic experiences by taking the time to learn how to use these technologies. Beyond that, the most important part of effective distance learning is strong communication. Developing communication skills for online classes can feel stilted and unnatural at first, but by following the tips above, educators and students can get the most out of studying online.

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