Section 4: Student Interaction and Community

SECTION 4. Student Interaction and Community

Effective online learning is active and student-centered. Regular student-student interactions foster a sense of belonging among learners and introduce students to diverse perspectives.

Text in italics is what I implemented in my course.

OBJECTIVES

4.1 At the beginning of the course, instructor provides an opportunity to have students self-introduce to develop the sense of community.

    • In the beginning of the course a graded discussion board was created for students to introduce themselves and to get to know each other. This also helped them to familiarize themselves with the discussion board and its grading rubrics (see screen shot below).

4.2 Instructor provides the information about how to be a successful online learner/student.

    • Community guidelines are posted on syllabus (p. 8).

4.3 Navigation throughout the online components of the course is logical, consistent, and efficient.

    • The syllabus includes a course outline that contains the weekly schedule, topics, assignments and deadlines (p. 3-4).

4.4 Learning activities facilitate and support active learning that encourages frequent and ongoing peer-to-peer engagement.

    • Students were divided into groups and had to work on a course-long group project that required them to have frequent peer-to-peer engagement. Additionally each group had to take part in an online discussion forum.

4.5 The modes and requirements for student interaction are clearly communicated.

    • For student-instructor communication the syllabus includes my full contact information along with a note how best to reach me.
    • For student-student communication the syllabus includes community guidelines (p. 8).

4.6 Instructor clearly explains his or her role regarding participation in the online environment. Instructor participates and manages, yet lets students take reasonable ownership.

    • I participated and left comments in each week's discussion forum. Additionally I emailed supplementary materials (recent news or business articles) that were relevant to students' group projects.

4.7 The course learning activities help students understand fundamental concepts, and build skills useful outside of the course.

    • I created assignments that would help students tie the course materials to real life experiences, in other words help them relate theory to practice. The assignments varied in terms of helping students build and improve different skills such as verbal and visual communication, effective writing skills, critical and analytical thinking.

Below is a screen shot of the initial discussion forum. Students were asked to introduce themselves and interact with each other. The graded assignment acted as an ice-breaker and also helped familiarize the students with the discussion format, the rubric and protocol for online discussions. They were required to take part in more discussions throughout the course.

Below are screen shots from my online course. The one of the left shows a folder where course materials are posted for easy access by the students. The one on the right shows a sample week where links to recommended materials (a movie and a business article) are posted that are related to that week's topics.

Course materials put under one easily accessible link for easy access by students
Recommended materials (a movie and a business article) to supplement that week's topics and readings.