Interactivity icon

This unit will focus on how to build an effective learning community at the beginning of an online course and to develop an awareness of potential challenges. Central to this is interaction and collaboration.

Let's discover some strategies for building an effective learning community in an online course by watching the following interview with two experienced online teachers.

Let's discover some strategies for building an effective learning community in an online course by considering the following interview featuring two experienced online teachers.

Click 'Play' to watch the video.
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Having considered other online teachers' strategies for building an effective learning community, take a moment to brainstorm some of your own ideas.

Having considered the strategies suggested by experienced online teachers for building an effective learning community, let's brainstorm some of our own ideas.

In the following activity, work through each of the questions, entering your answers in the space provided before clicking on 'View feedback' to compare with possible answers from other online teachers. Use 'Next' to move to the next question. You can click the 'View summary' button to access a printable summary at the end.
Work through the following questions. For each question, consider your response and make a note of your thoughts before continuing on to compare your answer with possible thoughts from other online teachers.

Useful links

Anderson, T., Rourke, L., Garrison, D. R., & Archer, W. (2001) 'Assessing...

PROGRAMME | Teaching Online
COURSE | Being a successful online teacher
UNIT | 2 : Building an effective learning community
PAGE TITLE | Design and organisation for an online community

Question 1 of 4:

Why do you think it's important to build a learning community in an online course?

Our suggestions:

It is important to build a learning community in an online course so that students perceive a safe and trusting environment in order to learn effectively from each other and take risks with their questions and sense of inquiry. From a teacher's perspective, a learning community provides an environment where students perceive constructive feedback as an opportunity for growth rather than as a personal attack.


Question 2 of 4:

What strategies do you think you could use at the beginning of an online course to create a learning community?

Our suggestions:

You could utilise icebreaker activities at the beginning of an online course such as:

  • Asking students to introduce themselves and describe why they are taking this course and what their personal learning goals are
  • Creating a short game or quiz relevant to the learning outcomes and key concepts of the course
  • Small group discussions about learning goals and the objectives of the course outline.

Question 3 of 4:

What potential challenges might you encounter with these strategies?

Our suggestions:

Some students expect a very individual, self-paced experience with an online course and they are often unwilling or unprepared to initially engage with other students in the course. Students can also be shy or inhibited (e.g. too nervous to engage). Conversely, some students may need direction on sharing/over-sharing as they can take up 'too much' space in an online course.


Question 4 of 4:

How do you think you could overcome these challenges?

Our suggestions:

We recommend conducting an online needs assessment survey before the online course begins in order to determine the learning goals and preferences of the students. This way you can identify any issues or challenges and discuss them in the first online discussion forum for the course.

Often students join an online course after it has commenced and it is important to request them to complete this needs assessment survey as well.

Portfolio icon

You may wish to copy your responses and the suggestions presented in this activity into your Teaching Online portfolio for future reference.

You may wish to copy your responses and the suggestions presented here into your Teaching Online portfolio for future reference.

Summary

This screen has introduced you to the topic of designing and organising an online course that includes interaction and collaboration. The following screens will explore principles and strategies to help guide you in the design and delivery of an engaging and collaborative online course.

This section has introduced you to the topic of designing and organising an online course that includes interaction and collaboration. The following sections will explore principles and strategies to help guide you in the design and delivery of an engaging and collaborative online course.


Useful links