Creating Online Community


Some of you, no doubt, have already taught online classes for a while, as hybrids or in a totally asynchronous format. For others of you, this may be the first time you are teaching a totally asynchronous class in the SPS online undergraduate degree programs. We would like, first, to address the central question that always seems to emerge at the beginning of an online course: As the instructor, how does one create a sense of community online?

Building Presence

To get started in an online course, you may want to think about what kind of persona, or voice, you want to have as an online teacher. The first thing to do is to build a “presence” in your online class. Here are some suggestions for ways to do it.

Creating a Sense of Online Class Community

Interaction in an online classroom does not happen naturally but must be learned and developed. Since, in all fully asynchronous online courses, posting becomes the functional equivalent of attendance, posting on various class and group Discussion Boards is the heart and soul, the very life-blood of an online course. At the beginning of the semester, particularly in the first two weeks, you will need to create an engaging and encouraging environment for students, especially since some of them may be taking an online course for the first time. What follows are some useful techniques to get students to interact with you and their peers. All of these activities can be managed through class Discussion Boards.

Sustaining a Sense of Online Class Community

Creating community in an online course environment is often one of the instructor’s priorities as the new semester begins. However, maintaining and continuing to build community in the class throughout the semester is equally important. Here are some helpful tips and techniques for maintaining the community among students in your online courses.

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