An online learning community can be defined as a group of learners having similar learning goals, connected virtually to discuss, exchange information, learn, and grow together. To create online courses successfully and generate high learning outcomes, working to build a virtual learning community is very important. The online learning community ensures that teachers and learners stay connected, interact well and keep moving forward to complete the course successfully.
Communication, cooperation, collaboration, continuous motivation, and constructive competition are a few benefits of a learning community. Building a learning community online can be challenging as digital life gives barriers to not having physical interactions and meetups. However, by following the right strategies, online course creators can achieve this too. Let us discuss some effective steps that online teachers can follow to build an online learning community.
How to build an online learning community: steps to follow
1. Know the needs of your learners
A community can only be formed, when students’ goals, needs, and expectations are met. If not so, they will not prefer investing their time and energy in your online course. Therefore, all online course creators must know what the needs of their target audience are. An effective online community should meet the demands of learners individually. All should feel satisfied and valued as then only they will feel connected and belong to the course. While developing the online course, conduct surveys and polls to know what learners want out of the course. Your lesson plans should be designed in such a way that it meets the understanding level of all the learners.
2. Select the right platform
A learning community in basic words means where learners together, under one platform or place, receive education to meet similar learning goals. To build an online community, you should select the platform where learners will collaborate, learn and grow together. It can be both synchronous and asynchronous.
You can plan for live streaming if learners want to have real-time interactions with each other. Live classes and chat rooms via an educational app can also be one option. Groups can be formed on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other such social media platforms. The platform selected should be comfortable and convenient for all to create a successful online learning community.
3. Go for collaborative learning activities
To build an effective online learning community, it is important to let students be social and know each other well. To do so, letting students collaborate on a specific task or shared goal is the best idea. You can divide the class into small groups and assign each group a particular topic aligned with the course. Give students time to interact with each other in the chat box if you are conducting live streams.
Also, with the growing technology and social media, collaboration is not only limited to online live classes. You can allow students to make groups on social media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and more. You can be a part of this group too to ensure discipline and decorum. These social interactions will help to build a strong learning community for your online course.
4. Keep it interactive and create comfortability
To build an online community, your learners should feel safe, secure, and valued. Not all importance should be given to active speakers or participants. In a community, the behavior, learning styles, comfort level, and community varies person to person. You have to try to give comfort and importance to every member of the online learning community. Allow each one of them to share their thoughts, opinions, and perspectives. Give them freedom of speech by keeping discipline intact. Make them feel comfortable so that they can put up their points well. Share feedback and stay equally involved with all.
5. Ensure personal connections with all
Along with collaboration among learners, an online educator also needs to be actively involved with all selling courses and developing a successful online learning community respectively. Make sure to be available for your learners. Online education sometimes gives learners a sense of isolation, however, when they get personal time and attention from the educator, they feel valued and taken care of. Interact with all students one to one. Ask how effective the course is working for them, or what more they expect from the teachers. Ensure proper doubt resolution and give constructive feedback for improvement and betterment.
To make your online course successful and keep growing in your profession, building an online learning community is important. By following the above-mentioned tips, teachers can make students more engaged, and involved in the online course. This will help to build an online learning community in your course. Students will develop a sense of belongingness and learn better together.