Building Community in Online Courses

By Chris Pinkoson
📅 October 26, 2020
🕑 Read time: 5 minute(s)
Building Community in Online Courses

Creating a strong sense of community in the online learning environment is an important aspect of ensuring student success. To do this, you’ll want to create a sense of belonging, ensure there are opportunities for engagement and interaction between the instructor and students, and provide students the opportunity to track their progress and assess their deficiencies.

Many of you have accomplished this in a face-to-face setting, but let’s talk about what this might look like in the online classroom.

Strategies to Build Community in Online Courses:

  • Create active or collaborative learning opportunities in asynchronous and synchronous settings.
  • Establish virtual office hours (or “student hours”) and encourage students to attend.
  • Send weekly announcements to clarify misconceptions, spotlight exemplary work, and/or highlight upcoming events.
  • Post in the discussion boards. Respond to student posts, provide additional or clarifying information, and intervene where necessary.
  • Provide timely feedback to the students to help clarify instructor expectations and identify gaps in knowledge. You can annotate documents, grade with rubrics, upload attachments, and leave text, audio, or video comments using SpeedGrader.
  • Use the “Message Students Who” feature in the Gradebook to send additional resources to individual students who might have struggled on an assignment, or use this to recognize individuals with quality submissions.

Technology and Resources to Build Community in Online Courses:

  • Google Suite and Microsoft Office 365 Applications offer a variety of student collaboration tools.
  • Zoom allows for both pre-recorded and live lectures. Reference Engaging Zoom Classes for strategies to make these sessions more interactive.
  • VoiceThread enables students to create, share, and collaborate on different multimedia projects that include images, videos, and audio files.
  • Perusall allows students to create shared annotations on course readings.
  • Flipgrid gives students an option to engage in discussions using short video responses.
  • Playposit allows for interactive quizzing within pre-recorded lectures.

The UF + QM Standards have specific expectations around both learner interaction and instructor presence. While the information here is a good starting point, if you would like to learn more, or work with an instructional designer to implement a new technology or strategy, please submit a request for assistance.

Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

TagsCollaboration, CommunityEngagementFeedbackStudent Success