Q&A: Learning to get along online
Question: What if I'm having an issue with a classmate in my online course?
Answer: Being in an online classroom doesn't eliminate some of the same academic and social issues that arise in a "ground" or traditional class setting. Since we are all humans with different: personalities; perceptions; ways of learning; and life experiences, we'll have moments of differing opinions. Unfortunately, not everyone is respectful of others' differences and therefore, this may result in an online conflict between students.
In the online environment, students may communicate through a discussion board or forum. In the discussion board or forum, students are usually responding to questions posted by the instructor and then engaging with other students regarding the same topic. Sometimes, students become passionate about an issue or topic, especially if they've had the same or similar class before or a personal experience within the topic area.
For example, if you are in a communication class and the topic is "how to properly give a presentation". A student who's had speech class before may feel more experienced in the area and agree or disagree with others' comments.
The purpose of the discussion board/forum is to get students communicating and debating about the topic, as expected in a "ground" or traditional classroom. However, it's the way students present their points that often results in miscommunication; hurt feelings and conflict. Again, if the student is being respectful and provides supportive resources for their opinion, that's acceptable.
Regardless of the reason conflict arises, the best thing for the student to do is assess the situation. If you can continue engaging in the classroom, having limited communication with the other student, without affecting your grade, this may be an option. If it's a situation that's affecting your interaction in the classroom, then contact your instructor for further guidance.
The goal is for all students to learn the material, be able to apply the material and complete the course successfully. If a barrier develops to keep students from doing so, it's the students' responsibility to alert the instructor.