Online Learning Communities

May 5, 2011 tinkisamy

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Online Learning Communities
As I reflect on online learning communities I begin by thinking of the many friends that I have that have not been able to branch over to online learning. They are stuck in that scared, uncomfortable setting where they feel that they are not able to be successful. This is why an engaging welcoming learning community is so necessary and essential for success for the student and the environment.

How do online learning communities significantly impact both student learning and satisfaction within online courses? Online learning communities allow for students to become engaged with other learners who have the same goal, growth of knowledge. When there is a strong sense of community the learner will be able to overcome their fears and misconceptions by feeling safe in communicating those ideas and coming together with others to help them overcome and adjust. If the learning community is supportive and open the learner can start to feel comfortable and this facilitates collaboration and learning.

What are the essential elements of online community building? There are a few essential elements of online community building and Dr. Palloff explained, "Facilitators and learners are equal participants". This means that if the learner is aware that the fa cilia tor is on their side they will feel more comfortable. There is also the personal sense that is felt when students begin to share ideas and knowledge. The facilitator needs to make sure they maintain a "presence" where the learners know that they are there when they need them. It is also important to group learners together, this would be a great tool for beginning online learners. Then they can have a smaller group to start off building those relationships with a few and then they can become comfortable in that smaller community and then gain those skills to branch out more to the learning community as a whole.

How can online learning communities be sustained? The community can be sustained by constant reassurance to the learners. It is important as the instructor to be there for the students. The first few weeks are the most important. Dr. Palloff and Dr. Pratt emphasized the fact that the instructor needs to be available many times a day just in case any issues come up and if the students need help in any way. The instructor needs to be diligent in modeling what they want their students to do. If they want the learners to post then they need to post, if they want the student to do an introduction then they need to do that as well. New online learners need to really "see" what needs to be done so they can get a feel for what they are expected to do.

What is the relationship between community building and effective online instruction? If there is a strong sense of community then the learners will feel that the course is effective and that they are gaining the knowledge necessary to be successful in the course and any future courses. If the instruction is going to impact the learner they need to be engaged in the learning and with the other learners.

Resources:
Dr. Rena Palloff and Dr. Keith Pratt. Online Learning Communities video. Laureate Education Inc.

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. David Lloyd  |  May 6, 2011 at 12:12 am

    Hi Amy! I am following your blog.

  • 2. Stephen Griffin  |  May 6, 2011 at 1:53 am

    I just wanted to stop in and say a quick hello.

  • 3. yolanda  |  May 6, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    Hi Amy,
    I am following your blog again!

  • 4. David Lloyd  |  May 8, 2011 at 11:58 am

    Hi again, Amy. I appreciated your comment about the importance of an engaging welcome. When I started my first online course, I was skeptical about the value of online learning, or more specifically, its value to me personally. My confidence in online learning, and in my own ability to connect with it, was established early in my first online class by the attention that was given to orientation, and to building a sense of community among students.

  • 5. yolanda  |  May 8, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    Hi Amy,

    I love your post. I think that it was very insightful and i think that you hit the nail on the head about online communities. I agree with you that the presence of the facilitator is important. I think that is imperative because it would let the learners know that they are safe and have support and encouragement of the facilitator.


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