Recognize and Solve Communication Barriers in Your Online Class

Online learning is packed with plenty of benefits, and as education and the internet combine to provide people with the opportunity to learn new skills, online learning has shown significant growth. Accessibility of time and space, efficiency, and affordability are a few of its many benefits.

However, some barriers prevent people from accurately receiving the messages being communicated by others. Some of the most common include:

1. Listening Barriers

Effective listening is one of the most crucial factors in classroom interaction. You want to take the time to listen to what the other person is trying to communicate. When someone is speaking, resist the urge to think about your next response. Negative emotions may arise when a person uses certain body language or words.

A lecturer must also keep emotional reactions to the lowest and pay attention to what the speaker is saying. Outside noise such as construction or email noise or telephones can sometimes make listening hard.

2. Language Barriers

Linguistic and language ability may act as a barrier to communication. Even when interacting in the same language, the terms used in the message may act as a barrier if not well understood by the receiver. Regional expressions and colloquialism may be considered offensive.

You can also utilize Google translate and team chat software to improve communication. This allows students to reach out to you more directly with any questions. Students can get more individualized help and you can send out assignments quickly.

3. Emotional Barriers

Psychological or emotional barriers are maybe the most common communication barriers, both digital and otherwise. It is not enough for your message to reach your audience. People also need to be willing to listen, believe, and make good decisions.

A person’s values, attitudes, and beliefs strongly influence how they process information. An individual can quickly misinterpret digital communication, which usually does not include body language, facial expression, tone of voice, vocal inflections, or visual cues people rely on to understand the emotional meaning.

Because people are emotional beings, you cannot erase emotions from interaction, as emotions play a significant role in helping messages spread. However, before you click on a post, tweet, send, or publish, take a moment to evaluate the emotional motivations of the message you are about to communicate.  

Evaluate your current emotional state and consider whether your emotions unintentionally distorted your message. Analyze your content again to check for anything that may be out of place. Lastly, dial up your empathy, imagine your audience, and think about the emotional response you intend to trigger and whether any part of your communication could be taken the wrong way.

4. Identity Barriers

Identity carriers can become a part of or be reinforced by digital communication efforts. Identity barriers include disability, class, sexual orientation, gender, veteran status, ethnicity, or other cultural, social, or personal identities.

This barrier can lead to misunderstanding, miscommunications, and misrepresentations of people and their ideas. Even if you fail to construct identity barriers, they can affect how you communicate.

The person that runs your webinars, who authors your online content, who you show videos and photos, who you quote in articles, who collects and analyzes your data, whose stories you tell, who you follow and engage with online, and where you share can either reduce or reinforce these identity barriers.

You want to take conscious steps towards more inclusive digital communication to reduce identity barriers. Ask for feedback on how your digital approaches, content, and channels may be encouraging identity barriers.

Trench your assumptions and listen to communities, subcultures, and people whose experiences differ from yours. Employ and recognize a larger variety of people as digital influencers, messengers, and creators. Make an effort to understand the channels, tone, and norms that different groups of people use to communicate. Also, modify your digital communications approaches to meet them where they are.

5. Accessibility Barriers

In the drive towards digital communication, accessibility barriers are often overlooked. Digital communication becomes more effective when people of all abilities can receive and understand information. Companies that serve the public must communicate effectively with people living with communication disabilities.

PDFs, live streaming, photos, podcasts, videos, webinars, and other visual and audio formats are crucial parts of how organizations and people communicate online. Overcoming accessibility barriers takes more than adding descriptions to images and captioning videos, even though both are essential to do.

Information should be accessible to people with cognitive, auditory, or visual disabilities that can affect understanding and communication.

Find a Solution Early

Does your online learning space face challenges with digital communication? What barriers do you face, and have you made any plans to fix the challenge? Solving them early on can help both you and your students in the future.