Tag Archives: online learning communities

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Setting up an Online Learning Experience

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What is the significance of knowing the technology available to you?

Instructors in the online environment have to get the familiar with the technology that is going to be used during the online course because before the launching of the course they have to configure the learning environment with the content and the tools that learners will be using. Digital technology tools help learners achieve the learning goals in the online environment (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010) because they facilitate communication among students and with the instructor, and because they also allow instructors to include resources in different formats such as multimedia, games, and simulations; therefore the importance for instructors and learners to get familiar with the technology.

Why is it essential to communicate clear expectations to learners?

Because as mentioned by Boettcher and Conrad (2010), “clear and unambiguous guidelines about what is expected of learners and what they can expect from an instructor make a significant contribution to ensuring understanding and satisfaction” (p.83). Additionally, because of the distance and different time zones characteristic in the online environment, it is important that learners know clearly how to communicate with the instructors, understand the course syllabus, the schedule of assignments, and procedures in case technology fails.

What additional considerations should the instructor take into account when setting up an online learning experience?

  • Create an initial to introduce yourself but try to avoid posting your entire CV because only showing academic information create distance with the students (Laureate Producer, 2010). Instead add some personal information to facilitate the connection with the students.
  • Add in the initial post a video, a voice message, or images to show openness and encourage students to share some personal information too. This is going to establish stronger connections among the learning community and thus will be more likely to participate and stay motivated.
  • Encourage learners to ask questions, even the ones that might seem obvious. Post your contact details so learners know how to reach you.
  • Create an icebreaker activity at the beginning to encourage learners get to know each other.

In summary, the first two weeks of the course are critical to set the stage for the online course. This defines future interactions in the course and how learners perceive the learning environment. I have learned that making a presence, not only as an academic, but as a human who is there to guide learners for a successful experience is of high significance to create a welcoming learning environment where learners feel open and are willing to participate without feeling isolated or threaten by the technologies or the online learning experience. Particularly having a welcoming message with some form of multimedia element (voice message, video, or image) is a good strategy I will be using to set the online learning experience with a positive start.

References

Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The Online Teaching Survival Guide. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Online learning communities [Video file]. Retrieved from Walden Library databases.

 

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A supportive learning environment

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  • 9

Online Learning Communities

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How do online learning communities significantly impact both student learning and satisfaction within online courses?

Learning communities significantly impact student learning satisfaction within online courses because they allow learners to make meaning of the content through social construction. Learning communities create the environment for collaborative acquisition of knowledge which is one key to the success of an online course (Conrad & Donaldson, 2011). This idea is also supported by Dr. Palloff who indicated that “the power of learning communities is learner-to-learner engagement” (Laureate Producer, 2010), and having students engaged in the online course will increase their satisfaction and as a result learning becomes a more positive experience for the learner.

What are the essential elements of online community building?

The essential elements of online community building are:

  • People: that will form the community. It can include learners, instructors, facilitators, and experts.
  • Purpose: this is defined by the main goals and attitudes that people participating in the learning community want to achieve.
  • Process: defines the way the learning community is established and how the members contribute in the community.
  • Method: this element emphasizes communication methods in the community because people might contribute using different ways such as participating in forums, synchronous discussions, live chats, or sharing files that others can access at different times.
  • Social presence: refers to how others perceive you online and how you present yourself in online media. Avatars and digital profiles are good examples of how people can establish a social presence.

How can online learning communities be sustained?

With an active participation of the people in the community, an instructor that assists learners in creating knowledge and maintaining a high level of interactivity and participation (Conrad & Donaldson, 2011). Also with a safe environment that makes students feel warm and inviting (Laureate Producer, 2010). Additionally, the online environment should be easy to navigate to promote participation.

What is the relationship between community building and effective online instruction?

The online learning experience will be effective if it is designed in such a way that engages learners to actively participate in the construction of knowledge. But if on the contrary, the instruction is not well designed, if the activities are not engaging, or if the online environment is not safe and welcoming, then learners will have a detrimental learning experience, their motivation levels will tend to drop, and this will impact participation levels in the online learning community, which ultimately will influence in the success of the community building process.

A final thought about becoming a better online instructor:

Finally, it is important to emphasize how relevant is being part of a learning community when doing online courses because this will eliminate the feelings of isolation students might experience in this type of environment.

To ensure online learning communities are welcoming and will succeed in engaging participants it is important to create an easy to navigate course, make the participants feel welcome by establishing open communication channels with the audience, suing icebreaker activities to let learners meet their peers and the instructor, share messages and a video to let the instructor present to the class, with an instructor actively communicating with the class and encouraging participation, with constructive feedback, and with the use of activities that will encourage reflection and sharing of knowledge and experiences.

References

Conrad, R., & Donaldson, J. A. (2011). Engaging the online learner: Activities and resources for creative instruction (Updated ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Online learning communities [Video file]. Retrieved from Walden Library databases.

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