Throughout my college days I have had many situations that were great experiences. However there has been a few that make it hard to stay on the straight and narrow, and as an online learner it can become difficult if there isn’t good communication within your online community. Each course I’ve taken has been different, but I can’t help but get the feeling that some professors are allowing students to mostly “teach themselves” instead of being a visible and helpful tool throughout. Instructor presence is vital to create in an online course, because without it, the class becomes an impersonal experience guided only by text and the other electronic medium (Hathcock, 2012). I want my online community to be one filled with students who are eager to learn from each other, as well as professors who care to make sure their students are well equipped once they are finished in that course.
An online course is like walking into a foreign land with an entire map laid out, but having no sense of the land’s origin or how to navigate the terrain (Hathcock, 2012). In an online community it is important that those involved are open to learning new things, and also willing to keep in mind that there is always more than one way to learn the material. A good online instructor works to ensure that each element of the course builds upon the course objectives and works in conjunction with one another, rather than as separate pieces (Hathcock, 2012). However an online course doesn’t stop at what the professor can offer the students, it’s also about what each individual can add to the class as a whole.
Online communities can be sustained by making sure they offer a multitude of information that is relevant, up to date, and interesting. Also the interaction amongst those involved has to stay high. If there are always fresh and new topics, people will remain interested. I also think that there has to be a level of respect for everyone so that no one’s opinion will be shunned, or discredited. You don’t always have to agree with what someone is saying, however respect that there are people whose thoughts and feelings are different from your own, and instead of being rude about it, try to see what you can learn from someone else’s different perspective.
Effective online instruction is the heart and soul of community building. In order to engage students, professors have to keep their approach fresh and make themselves available. I wouldn’t want to be a part of an online community where I am not able to talk with my instructor, it makes me feel like I am not a priority, which in turn will reduce the effort I put forth in the end. All in all, building a great online community first starts with a roadmap for success. We all contribute to the navigation, but the professor creates the direction.
Hathcock, D. (2012). Mapping Success: Essential Elements of an Effective Online Learning Community. Online Education. Retrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/online-education/mapping-success-essential-elements-of-an-effective-online-learning-experience/