More Engaging Online Classes: Creating a Sense of Community

Partner: Xwhy

Online education might be a successful method of learning that offers many different benefits compared to traditional education. While beneficial, it also has particular challenges related to students’ engagement during online classes. With traditional teaching methods only sometimes applicable in an online setting, educators must adapt and find new ways to make their online courses more engaging and interactive. This article will focus on developing a sense of community during the online classes, and how it can help to engage students more effectively.

One of the ways is creating a sense of community which is essential for fostering engagement, collaboration, and a positive learning environment. Based on Shackelford and Maxwell (2012), interactions most predictive of a sense of community were introductions, collaborative group projects, sharing personal experiences, entire class discussions, and exchanging resources. To develop a sense of community, start your course with icebreaker activities that allow students to get to know each other. Ask them to share something about themselves, their interests, or their goals in an introductory discussion forum.Moreover, address students by name during interactions to make them feel acknowledged and valued. Encourage students to share their experiences, opinions, and stories about the course content.

It is worth mentioning that building a sense of community in online classes takes time and effort. It is essential to actively participate in the community as a teacher, show genuine interest in your students’ progress, and create a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere where all students feel valued and heard.

Shackelford, J. & Maxwell, M. (2012). Sense of Community in Graduate Online Education: Contribution of Learner to Learner Interaction. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 13(4), 228–249.