In a traditional class, where we are seeing each other eye-to-eye, communication can be easier in comparison to how we communicate in the virtual classroom. Studies have shown that 55% of personal communication is non verbal. How can you communicate effectively to your professor and your classmates in an online classroom environment while ensuring that you are showing the best representation of yourself though writing?

Effective communication with a professor involves reaching out with respectful and meaningful questions. For example, unless instructed otherwise, you should always write in a formal tone and thank your professor for the help. You should also strive to clearly explain what you are asking and why you are asking it so your professor understands your dedication to the course.

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Effective communication with a professor during remote learning is critical to making sure you understand how to excel in the class. It is also important for making sure that your professor knows who you are as a student.

A critical part of effectively communicating with your professor is writing with a professional tone. In most cases, you should address your professors with their preferred titles, such as “Ms.” or “Dr.” This is a formal sign of respect and shows that you understand the formality of your relationship right from the start. Writing with a professional and respectful tone also means not writing too casually. For example, consider how you would text a friend asking about the homework assignment for the week. You might say something like “hey, what’s due tomorrow?” While this question is clear, you should write with a more formal tone to a professor. For example, you could send an email with the following message:

Hello Dr. —,

I am having technical difficulties accessing the syllabus for your PHIL 1000, Section A course. Would you mind emailing me a copy? Thank you so much.


Your name

Your contact information"

This type of email tells your professor a lot about you. It explains that you did not just forget about the homework or can’t find the syllabus, but provides an understandable reason why you do not know what your assignment is. It also tells your professor that you care about the class and that you want to succeed. You also show respect in such an email by specifying the class name and section and by thanking the professor. You are showing that you understand that the professor is busy and may teach more than one course. This shows that you value your professor’s time and support.

Overall, never be afraid to contact your professor. It is a professor’s job to help you learn and excel academically. However, there are some cases where reaching out can reflect poorly on you. For example, you may ask what the instructions are for a project that the professor recently posted instructions for. Emailing about this then shows the professor that you haven’t taken the initiative to look for the instructions.

A good rule of thumb to follow is to ask yourself a few questions before reaching out to a professor. For example, ask yourself if the professor has already answered this somewhere in notes, lectures, or other forms of communication. If the answer is no, or if you cannot access the information that was provided, just explain why you are asking. You should also ask yourself if your question is clear and respectful. Other than that, professors will love to see that you care about their course!

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