Online Learning Communities

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

Online learning communities are essential for student success and satisfaction. Students need to opportunities to engage with other learners in the environment in order to understand the importance and impact of team building as well as learning from each other. The facilitator plays an important role in creating a positive learning community and must plan ahead to ensure that this is achieved. “The students need to be informed that others in the community will be just as important as the instructor, if not more so at times” (Conrad & Donaldson, 2011).

 What are the essential elements of online community building?

The essential elements of online community building begin with the instructor setting the tone right from the start and letting the students know that the course will consist of student engagement amongst instructor and classmates. “This tone can be sent by an initial email from the instructor or by having the first activity of the course by and icebreaker introduction that requires learners to learn about and interact with one another in a unthreatening manner” (Conrad & Donalson, 2011). The six basic elements of online community building consist of “value, transparency, metrics, engagement, conversations and culture” (Peacock, 2013).

 How can online learning communities be sustained?

An online learning community is essential to the success and satisfaction of each learner. Once the instructor has implemented a learning community, it is imperative to ensure that it continues throughout the course. There are four phases of engagement that an instructor should take into consideration to ensure that a positive learning community is in place throughout the course. An instructor should provide opportunities in which learners are placed in groups to perform tasks that require participation from each learner in the group. “After establishing an appropriate climate for engagement to occur in Phase 1, the instructor becomes a structural engineer who is responsible for organizing and facilitating the growth of the student as a cooperative participant” (Conrad & Donaldson, 2011).

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

Effective online instruction is required in order to establish a positive community within the online learning environment. The instructor is the key to this happening. “The most important role of the instructor in online classes is to ensure a high degree of interactivity and participation. This means designing and conducting learning activities that result in engagement with the subject matter and with fellow students” (Conrad & Donaldson, 2011).



 Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

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



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