Overcoming isolation

Studying online can be a lonely experience, so we recommend that you get to know your classmates using virtual or distance opportunities (Croft et al., 2015). Here are some options:

  1. Moodle introduction forum:  Many lecturers provide an introduction forum. You should participate in this activity. Usually the teacher will give you instructions to follow, but if there are no instructions, here are some ideas about what to post:
    1. Your name
    2. Where you are studying from
    3. Why you are interested in this subject
    4. A fun fact about yourself (for example: I like reading science fiction or I have an aquarium with tropical fish)
  2. Sometimes students want to be able to ask each other questions. A good way to do this is a Virtual Coffee Bar (Shropshire, 2012). You can ask your lecturer to set one up for the class. This is a space where students can help each other with tips and hints about the assignments.
  3. Some classes prefer a Virtual Coffee Bar that is "lecturer-free". (Remember: always remain polite, respectful and constructive in the way you discuss any problems you are having.)  Classes can set up a closed group on their favourite social media platform. In western countries, this often is via Facebook, and in China you might use WeChat. If possible, choose a platform that all the students in the class can access. Use the class introduction forum or your Q and A forum to give your classmates your Virtual Coffee Bar link.

Helping classmates and friends

The University of Waikato approves of students discussing their lessons and helping each other to understand what is expected or required.  We encourage you to collaborate with your friends and classmates.


  • Discuss assignment tasks together.
  • Identify or share relevant sources of information.
  • Attend a Student Learning Zoom or Skype consultation with other classmates.
  • Share lecture notes or reading notes (or other resources).

Do not ever:

  • Give a classmate the answers to a test or assignment.
  • Give your assignment to a classmate to read before it is graded.
  • Ask a classmate to let you see his/her assignments or tell you the answers.

For more information about good helping and bad helping, enrol in our free University of Waikato Academic Integrity course in Moodle.

Note: Your assignments may be processed by Turnitin (Tii) when they are submitted, which checks for similarity against other student assignments (and resources). If your assignment is similar to the assignment of another student (even from previous years), this similarity will be detected.


Croft, N., Dalton, A., and Grant, M. (2015) Overcoming isolation in distance learning: Building a learning community through time and space. Journal for Education in the Built Environment 5(1), 27-64. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.11120/jebe.2010.05010027

Shropshire, V. [guest blogger] (2012, September 26). Answer questions with a virtual coffee shop. Elon Technology blog https://blogs.elon.edu/technology/answer-student-questions-with-a-virtual-coffee-shop/

Student Learning