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Principles of Online Design
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Time Requirements | Tracking Progress | Feedback | Managing Communication | Online Learning Community

4.5 Promoting Online Learning Community
4.5.1 The instructor should design opportunities for social contacts with students (McCormick & Austin,1998).

A. Use multiple strategies to engage students in descussion and social interaction.

B. Make your email address known to students and encourage them to use it.

C. Encourage students to ask questions about the subject material.

D.Remind students that they have other options to communicate with the instructor other than email. Office hours and the telephone are still viable options.


Some strategies to create an online learning community:

1) Have a face-to-face orientation,

2) send a personal letter to students welcoming them to the class,

3) provide campus office hours students to visit,

4) have numerous links to your e-mail address on the course online website,

5) share student communication with the community of students through bulletin boards or email summaries of discussions, and

6) encourage students to use the telephone in emergency situations.

4.5.2 The instructor should create and promote an atmosphere of sharing (McCormick & Austin, 1998).

A. Instructors can share their experiences and other information with students.

B. Provide creative ways for students to get to know one another.


Instructors need to share their experiences and other information such as articles or books that may be of interest to the students. Since the 'classroom' is on the web, photographs of students and the instructor can help create an atmosphere of community.
4.5.3 Since the social contact is limited in online courses, an increased effort should be made to enhance communication between learners and the instructor and among learners.

A. Encourage students to share ideas with each other.


The use of email, bulletin boards, and chats are some strategies that can help students and the instructor to get connected. Instructors can start these forms of communication through assignments and group activities.

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