Module 3

Building & Maintaining Community

Module Overview

In face-to-face learning environments, a successful classroom community promotes positive social interaction and academic achievement for all students. A vibrant community is one where everyone feels accepted and connected, and where individuality is not only tolerated but also encouraged. Decades of research have linked student engagement to positive student outcomes, such as retention, academic performance, and graduation. Maintaining student engagement in the online environment is just as important to the success of students.

These days, many people are comfortable participating in an online community. In fact, active online communities are all around us: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube and so forth serve to bring people together around a common interest. Students often spend hours on these sites because they feel connected through common interests, connections, and similar goals.

This module will provide you with background on community building in the online environment. You will examine strategies for breaking down the barriers between face-to-face learning and virtual community learning and explore the critical issues that contribute to student success in synchronous and asynchronous environments.

Learning Objectives

In this module, participants will:

  • Identify and understand techniques for building community in an online and blended learning environment.
  • Develop a discussion prompt that supports student internalization of academic content.
  • Experience alternative asynchronous discussion tools.
  • Reflect on social media tools and how they may impact students' lifelong learning and your own professional growth

Module Assignments

  • 3.1 Discussion: How do you create and maintain an online community?
  • 3.2 Portfolio Assignment: Design an online discussion
  • 3.3 Reflection: Social and Professional Networks

Academic Vocabulary

The academic vocabulary you will encounter in this module is:

  • Discussion Forum: A form of Internet communication technology involving a space on the Internet where you can post questions or comments to which others may respond.
  • Community: The structure that encourages student interaction, participation and collaboration in the online environment.
  • Social Media: Web-based and mobile technologies used to turn communication into interactive dialogue.
  • COI: The Community of Inquiry (COI) framework presents the relationship between three types of presence: social, teaching, and cognitive.
  • PLN: Personal Learning Networks. The connections with professionals and experts that can augment one's learning by creating a network of knowledge.
  • Humanize: In a 'humanized' environment students see "themselves as part of a larger community, who are more likely to be motivated, be satisfied with their learning, and succeed in achieving the course objectives." (Picciano, 2002; Rovai & Barnum, 2003; Richardson & Swan, 2003)