Building Community

I feel that I have contributed to building community in this class mostly through the discussion forum and blog posts. These avenues are a great way to allow students to connect with one another. I like that I can see the other students opinions, values, and even their points of view on the specific assignments. When we respond to others posts, we are interacting, and in some ways getting to know one another. I feel that this builds a strong sense of community, especially for an online class. In the article Building an Online Learning Community it shows a great figure of how teaching presence, social presence, and cognitive presence, all overlap to form the educational experience. I feel that not having so many requirements to respond to others posts would help build a stronger sense of community in this course. I feel that when I am writing a response, I have to keep checking to make sure I am covering all the bases. I also feel that when I read some of the responses to my posts, they are forced and not naturally flowing as a conversation would. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like the other student really cares about what you wrote, they are just responding for the grade. I know that we are free to post additional non-graded responses, but not many students do.

Personally, I feel that I learn best when community is built in a class. Last semester was my first time taking online courses. At first I was very surprised and almost uncomfortable with the amount of interaction that took place between both instructors and fellow classmates. This was due to the fact that I was accustom to traditional lecture-based schooling, “learner engagement develops over time. Interaction and collaboration are not intuitive for many adult learners who were educated in a predominantly lecture-based environment. Initially, these students may be more comfortable in a passive role and will need guidance and opportunities to become involved” (Wilcoxon). It didn’t even take a full semester, and soon enough I actually started to enjoy the engagement of the online courses. I feel that most of my online courses have more community than my traditional classes did. While attending school for my associates degree in dental hygiene there was a strong sense of community. This did not occur do to the classroom design, but instead because we were all in the same classes for 2 years. During this time frame we all got to know one another very well. We all worked on assignments, studied, went to lunch, and stressed about the same things. I feel that community can be built when students find that others and having experiences similar to their own. There is research that suggests online learning may be superior to the traditional classroom setting, “Over the 12-year span, the report found 99 studies in which there were quantitative comparisons of online and classroom performance for the same courses. The analysis for the Department of Education found that, on average, students doing some or all of the course online would rank in the 59th percentile in tested performance, compared with the average classroom student scoring in the 50th percentile. That is a modest but statistically meaningful difference” (Lohr). Possibly this is because technology is often integrated into online learning, and from the information in this, and previous modules, we have seen the benefits technology can have on education. Technology in online courses is what makes it possible to build community. This article also addresses the importance of community in online classes, “People are correct when they say online education will take things out the classroom. But they are wrong, I think, when they assume it will make learning an independent, personal activity. Learning has to occur in a community” (Lohr).

Self-Assessment

Descriptions A/ Analysis A/ Reflections A/ Structure A

References:

Lohr, S. (2009). Study Finds That Online Education Beats The Classroom. The New York Times Technology Bits. Retrieved from http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/08/19/study-finds-that-online-education-beats-the-classroom/

Wilcoxon, K. (2011).  Building an Online Learning Community. Learning Solutions Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/761/