I’m once again blogging as part of my course assignments for my Master’s program at Walden University. This term my course is Online Instructional Strategies.
This week we look at one of the more fascinating elements of online instruction – the development of an online community. To be perfectly honest, I really hadn’t given this component of online instruction a great deal of thought. I’m very impressed by the course materials that have helped to illustrate the importance of the learning community.
Much of my focus has been on the content of the educational experience. As Weigel states “Content is the clay of knowledge construction; learning takes place when it is fashioned into something meaningful.” (Weigel, 2002).
Learning communities allow for critical analysis, personal interpretation of knowledge, an opportunity to construct knowledge from experience.
Learning communities are composed of three elements:
- People – The learners, facilitators or instructors, and administrators
- Purpose – The reason for the community, as an example a discussion group to offers an opportunity to discuss course content.
- Process – How do the learners and instructors interact within the learning community?
Learning communities allow learners to engage in a collaborative learning process by sharing multiple perspectives. Learners that participate within a learning community demonstrate and increased self-directedness and successful learning.
As stated earlier, the responsibility within the learning community is evenly distributed among the learners, instructors and administrators. The instructor and administrators help build an environment for a learning community. The instructor engages the learners to create a community where there is an expectation of participation, and ensures that participation is encouraged and valued.
I’m really looking forward to learning more about building online communities. I’m intrigued by the difference an online community can make to the learning process.
Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Conrad, R., & Donaldson, J. A. (2011). Engaging the online learner: Activities and resources for creative instruction (Updated ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass
Saba, F. (n.d.) Evaluation Distance Learning Theory. Lecture presented for Laureate Education, Inc. Retrieved from class.waldenu.edu
Stead, D., Kelly, L. (2013) Enhancing Primary Science: Developing Effective Cross-Curricular Links. New York: Open University Press. Retrieved from: learn.moodle.net