Building and Maintaining Community

Module Focus

In face-to-face learning environments, a successful classroom community promotes positive social interaction and academic achievement for all students. A vibrant community is one where everyone feels accepted and connected, and where individuality is not only tolerated but also encouraged. Decades of research have linked student engagement to positive student outcomes, such as retention, academic performance, and graduation. Maintaining student engagement in the online environment is just as important to the success of students.

These days, many people are comfortable participating in an online community. In fact, active online communities are all around us: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube and so forth serve to bring people together around a common interest. Students often spend hours on these sites because they feel connected through common interests, connections, and similar goals.

This module provided background on community building in the online environment. I examined strategies for breaking down the barriers between face-to-face learning and virtual community learning and explored the critical issues that contribute to student success in synchronous and asynchronous environments.

Designing an Online Discussion

Discussion: Mental Health During Covid-19

Discussion Materials

It's Okay to Not Be Okay

Coronavirus: Dealing with anxiety & mental health during a pandemic

Discussion Rubric

Discussion Rubric

Expectations for Online Discussions

Expectations for Online Discussions

Reflection: Social and Professional Networks

The social networks I regularly use are Facebook and Instagram. I use LinkedIn also for networking in my professional field, but I don't spend regular time on it like the other sites. Most of my activity on social media sites is purely recreational and fun with my friends and family. I do promote my artwork on Instagram and connect with other artists I admire and get ideas for how to promote and build my art presence online. I get really excited when I connect with others about my passions online especially when they are shared. Similarly this LEC course has been invigorating for me to learn alongside other teachers who are growing their skill sets and sharing their knowledge and experiences with teaching online. I am more confident about my future teaching online thanks to all of the advice and lessons learned from this LEC course.

I find the internet aids my learning with the multitude of information mediums and resources it offers such as videos, podcasts, social media sites, websites and articles. I struggled with reading growing up and as a result never learned to read for enjoyment. I much prefer to watch a video or listen to a podcast to get my information than reading an article. This is how I prefer to get my information and has changed the way I approach my own learning process as an adult.

My learning becomes distracted when I procrastinate doing things that are unrelated to my work. I enjoy social media sites for the sociability it offers especially during this global crisis, but I continually have to rein in my recreational web activities and refocus my attention to achieve my goals.

I am a millennial and grew up immersed with the fast changing world of technology and media. Like many students, I can get distracted and have to refocus my attention on my work. I think my students may struggle in a similar way with attention span and maintaining interest and engagement with their course work. This is why it is critical for myself as an online instructor to be creative and continually try out new strategies and tools to help keep my students engaged and interested. I know from my own learning experience that offering many ways for students to get their information and choose how they would like to contribute to their learning is key for maintaining interest and engagement.

I would support students with their own personal learning by offering different strategies and mediums of information through discussion activities and assignments. I would also have students reflect on their own learning experience and identify how they like to learn and encourage them to take charge of their own learning by researching the sites and mediums of information that align with their own learning style. I would structure opportunities for students to gain new skills using different web 2.0 applications and tools to build their confidence and engagement in their learning experience.

This module was all about building and maintaining community in an online course which is another very important aspect of online learning for myself and for my students. It is a priority for me to structure regular opportunities for students to interact socially and build relationships because these are necessary skills that are essential to their development as individuals and lifelong learners. I would incorporate synchronous or asynchronous discussions for students to engage academically and socially each week as well as group projects where students collaborate together on a research topic to present to the class. I as the professor would maintain a consistent teaching presence through weekly announcements and videos introducing the weeks topic and reminders of assignments. I look forward to refining my approach as I gain more experience teaching online.

Below is an outline of the iNACOL Standards for Quality Online Teaching that have been strengthened so far in this course (Module 3).


  • Academic Content Standards and Assessments (4 & 5)

  • Legal and Acceptable Use Policies (10)

The discussion board assignment (above) was designed to strengthen students' information literacy and communication skills with peers to analyze important topics such as their mental health and well being during the COVID-19 pandemic. Multiple learning resources are linked in the assignment description to accommodate different learning styles. Netiquette and discussion expectations are cited for reference so students understand how to successfully engage in the discussion activity.

Instructional Design

  • Instructional Strategies and Activities (3 & 5)

Students engage in active learning through the process of researching their own mental health resource and explaining their reason for selecting that resource and how it contributes to the topic of mental health. By reading and watching the different course materials students are presented with perspectives that may be different from their own and new information that may challenge what they already know. Students reflect on their own experience, how their views may have changed or stayed the same.

Student Assessment

  • Assessment Resources and Materials (6)

A discussion rubric is linked in the discussion assignment description for students to reference when completing their assignment in order to receive full credit.

Post Reflection: I think the biggest take away from this module has been that I have many similarities to my students in our online activity. Reflecting on the online activity of students and myself, I have realized the importance for me, as a online instructor, to use the knowledge I have about my students and our similarities to trouble shoot and plan my lessons and assignments in a way that is relevant to them and their lives. If I continue to put myself in my students shoes and create engaging and relevant lesson structures, I will continue to understand my students better and how best to serve them and meet their needs.