Taking a seat in a virtual classroom - Metro US

Taking a seat in a virtual classroom

In a world that revolves as much around who you know as what you know, the university campus was once the venue to come to know both: a place to attend mind-swelling lectures, then share plastic beer cups.

But as the young transpose their social circles to the Internet, the place for students to network is on the network — in online degree programs.

Once the domain of mouse-clicking shut-ins nabbing a B.A. in their PJs, the Internet is now the place to meet like-minded learners chasing similar careers.

“The issue of isolation and having to be completely independent in a degree program is beginning to become a secondary issue,” explains “Lessons From the Cyberspace Classroom” author Rena Palloff. “All the people who work in online programs are starting to build collaborative activities into their online courses to make sure their students stay in touch with each other and support each other.”

That work is paying off big time, she says. Student’s facility with social media, plus the smokescreen of anonymity that online work offers, means that classmates are forming tighter, more intimate relationships in online programs than they would in daunting lecture halls.

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