How Available Are The Professors To Online Students In Online Colleges?

Online education offers students a high level of convenience and value for their tuition dollar. However, many aspiring students are concerned with the format for interactions with their professors in an online format. Since online courses are often taken with a flexible schedule, the implication is that interactions with professors is rare. This is completely untrue. In fact, the ease of communication that is the hallmark of online education makes interactions with professors simple and convenient. There are a number of structures built in to online programs that provide ample opportunity for student-professor exchanges.

Lecture Rooms or Online Sessions

While much of the content for online courses is produced for the university, professors often offer lectures in the form of an online session. In these sessions, students join a chat room comprised of their fellow students and the professor. Often, the professor engages in a lesson, complete with visual aids and dynamic presentation methods facilitated by the integration of technology. During this presentation, students can engage in discussion with each other and also direct questions to the professor. Students are able to learn and discuss in real time without interrupting the lecture. Also, students can view supplementary materials while the lecture takes place. This makes for a hybrid learning experience that truly takes advantage of the opportunities that technology provides.

Office Hours

Office hours with the professors that teach online programs are often almost exactly like their traditional university counterparts. The only difference, obviously, is that the meeting takes place via an online platform or even a phone call. Many universities require their online faculty to hold regular office hours, and these are reserved just as students would expect. The software used to facilitate these meetings is often simple to use, and many find the convenience of this format facilitates more effective use of office hours than at traditional universities.


Even though every professor is likely available to students via email, it is worth noting that many online programs require their professors to check and respond to email promptly. Since email is a primary communication tool for this form of study, students can often receive timely responses to their emails where they might not in other settings. While not a substitute for face to face interaction, email turnaround time is a significant factor, particularly when considering that email is quickly becoming every student’s primary communication mode.

Class Forums

In a discussion based format, professors cannot give their input on every comment made by students. If they did, the professor would completely monopolize the conversation. This is not the case with a discussion forum. In this environment, professors can comment on any and every comment they wish, creating a higher level of discourse and personal interaction with students that is absent from a typical classroom.

Closing Thoughts

While it might seem that professors for online courses could be inaccessible, the opposite is true. There are many advantages to using technology to communicate effectively. Since these are built into most online education platforms and integrated into their structures, students always have ample contact with their instructors.