How do we build community in the online classroom?

Reflections on Online Teaching, Part 5.


Many instructors are experts at building community in the face to face classroom. We know how to get students in small groups and pairs, and to be able to gauge their interest and enjoyment in various class activities.


But bonding students and creating community is possible in the online classroom; it simply requires different strategies.

First, devote time specifically to getting-to-know you activities on those first days of class, just as we do in a f2f classrooms.


But do them more, and do them differently. Space these activities out over a number of lessons. Continue to incorporate activities that allow students to learn about their classmates throughout the term.


If you’re able to use breakout rooms, make sure to use opportunities within your classes to put students into small groups and pairs so they can work more intimately with other students.


A great suggestion I read about recently was the concept of a ‘campfire group;’ the idea is you put a small group of students together at the beginning of the term, and they consistently work together within their larger class. I also suggest assigning tasks and projects that will require them to meet with their classmates outside of class.


While we may have to work a little differently to bond our students in an online classroom, rest assured that it is definitely possible!


Do you have any tips you’d like to share? Write them in the comments!


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