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Listening in the Online Classroom: How to Be a Good Listener

written by: Melina Ann Collison•edited by: Sylvia Cochran•updated: 9/21/2009

The importance of listening in an online classroom: tips and tricks on active listening skills and effective communication. Active listening in the classroom takes work. Listening skills are not something a person can learn in one day. Improving listening skills is a process that takes time.

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    The Importance of Listening in an Online Classroom

    A student’s daily tasks and relationships inside the online classroom will be directly affected by how well the person listens. Listening is arguably the most important step in communication.

    “Listening, not imitation, may be the sincerest form of flattery." – Joyce Brothers

    Listening attentively will save a student time and ease relationships within the virtual class. Listening will provide answers to most questions without the student having to ask a thing. Learning how to properly listen will also show an awareness of gender and cultural differences. To listen means to influence others, people tend to follow and respect those whom they feel have attentively and effectively listened to and understood them.

    By Darrendraper 

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    Receiving and Understanding Online Classroom Information

    By Kevin Zollman To hear someone talk is not listening. The simple task of hearing any audio type stimulus is not the same as listening. Opening ones ears to noise is called receiving. In an online classroom -- in order to receive -- a student must read the class posts. There are no audio noises but precise words on a screen that will be received. The way a student gets their information is different but needs to be processed and received in the same way.

    Understanding begins to bring the student a little deeper into the listening process in many ways. To understand the information a student has received, they must relate the information to something they already know, see the speaker's point of view from the message, ask questions to clarify and then finally rephrase the message back to the speaker.

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    Remembering and Evaluating Online Classroom Information

    In order to understand and respond to instructions in class, another person’s post or any type of received message in the online classroom, the student needs to remember what they said for a period of time. If the information is for learning then it would need to be retained permanently.

    In order to remember more effectively, students can:

    • Use patterns in the message to organize the speaker’s meaning
    • Focus on the major support of the message or central idea
    • Repeat things to yourself; key phrases or names
    • Refer back to the original post or write down notes
    • Summarize the person’s message including all the relevant information, but excluding the unnecessary words: Meet me at Lake View Dr. at 6:00 p.m. for drinks and fun. Wear your best this is a black tie event. That sentence will become: Lake View Dr, 6: 00 p.m., formal attire.

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    Effective communication and active listening skills are traits that should be evaluated for the online learning environment. The online or virtual classroom has multitudes of non-verbal and verbal communication; know how to listen.
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    Remembering and Evaluating Online Classroom Information (cont.)

    Evaluating is basically judging the message you read in the online classroom and evaluating the person’s intent. Both an assignment By Extra Ketchup or personal message will be received in class and they will need to be evaluated. When the teacher gives an assignment, evaluating will come into play when it is time to understand what to do. When receiving a personal message, the student evaluates it to see why the speaker said the message. Example: Professor Cill – Make sure your homework is completed on time. The student would think why the teacher said this; was it because Professor Cill thinks the assignment will be late or because they want to remind the student since they are doing such a good job?

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    Listening Differences: Gender and Culture

    By Evansent There will always be a difference in the way speakers speak and listeners listen. Online students have another barrier to overcome, which is not being able to actually listen to the speaker’s tone, word usage, or other audio non-verbal cues. Culture and gender play a role in the way others will listen. To overcome these differences, an online student will need to understand three key areas:

    Language Differences – Just because a student has learned a second language does not mean they will speak it the same way another person who was born into that language speaks it. Listen carefully to the words people say and not the way they are said if there are language differences.

    Non-verbal Cues – Different cultures think that speaking out of turn is rude, having unnecessary words is “noise," not responding is respectful and other things that can make listening and understanding in an online classroom very difficult.

    Feedback – People from different genders or cultures can be very direct in their response or feedback, and others could mistake it as rude. Americans want feedback that is positive and useful, while in Japan they focus on being polite even when the feedback should have been negative.