Friday, May 11, 2012

Three Tips for Building Community in Your Online Course

"The shift from traditional classroom education to computer-mediated distance learning poses enormous challenges to instructors and learners. The concept of the classroom where students meet to interact with other learners and the instructor no longer exists in the virtual model. The instructor can no longer “look” around the room to see if students are attending to the material, are bored or confused, or are even present.  Since learners are now engaged with the computer instead of other learners, they lack a natural social outlet which can lead to feelings of isolation." - Melanie Misanchuk and Tiffany Anderson, Building community in an online learning environment: communication, cooperation and collaboration

It's true: online classes and online classrooms are lonely, isolated places if we don't do something about it. Here are some tips from my favorite practitioners.

Use the Webcam to let students know there's something there at the other end of the line.

Allowing students to come to the virtual classroom early (or stay late) so that they can chat informally without interrupting your teaching gives them a sense of community.

Take advantage of the strengths of this technology: immediate feedback, the ability for students to interact with one another, and the opportunity to ask questions either vocally, with text, or using the "hand-raising" tool.


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