Communication and Community in Online Learning

Evidence: Final paper for OLTD 503 – Reflections on Communication and Community in Online Learning (Feb. 21, 2014)

OLTD Learning Outcomes addressed:

Undertake engagement with environment through online facilitation for effective learning

  • building learning communities and communities of practice

Consider responsibility, accountability and civility in online environments


Reflection to Support Evidence:

As a final assignment in OLTD 503, we were asked to reflect upon our teaching philosophy in connection to online communication. I chose to summarize my thoughts in an APA format academic paper.

A cohesive online learning community plays an important role in effective online learning. During 503, I was introduced to many different models that described the process of group communication and online learning, but they all shared an emphasis on forming a learning community early on in the learning process. I learned that it is important to provide time for students to first become comfortable with the online environment before asking them to begin interacting with others or even to begin learning the content of the course. As a facilitator (instructor), I can foster online learning communities by carefully planning introductory activities (such as ice-breakers) and creating a safe learning environment.

For this assignment, I also reflected upon my responsibilities as a facilitator of an online learning community. Moderators do not need to be active participants in discussions designed for the students; rather, they should respond only when necessary to clarify or encourage further discussion. Planning is essential for successful online facilitation, and as an instructor I have a responsibility to my students to ensure that activities are well-designed with clear instructions. I also need to consider the time required to complete assigned tasks, ensuring that I do not ask so much of my students that they do not have time to process the information and respond thoughtfully.

As a face-to-face instructor, I understand how to build a learning community within my classroom where I am able to read the students’ body language and interact directly with them. Understanding how to build an online learning community is very important for instructors that are transitioning to a blended or online learning format. Online learning is not very effective when done in isolation; it is when a community of learning forms that deeper learning among students can happen. It can also be overwhelming from a workload perspective to transition from face-to-face instruction to an online environment. It is important to consider your responsibilities as an online instructor and clearly define your role to your students. As I move into a blended format, I need to consider what I have learned about building an online learning community and incorporate these techniques at the beginning of my courses.


Communication and Community in Online Learning

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