Importance of Building a Social Aspect in an Online Course
Teaching online is not as simple taking what you do in the classroom and shifting it online. Take a presentation by a very dynamic educator who really engages their audience and simply videotape them for online learning, and you will lose something. That being said, online learning has a lot of potential. In this series, I will discuss several of these components and how they might be addressed in the online classroom.
The Community of Inquiry (CoI) model provides a framework for creating a “deep and meaningful” learning experience. There are three parts to the model, Social Presence, Teaching Presence, and Cognitive Presence. Here, I want to discuss how important it is to establish a social presence in an online class.
A personal connection is probably the first thing you lose in an online learning environment, but it’s importance cannot be overstated. Face to Face interaction has many benefits. It helps build a connection between everybody in the class. Also, a simple perplexed look can alert the instructor that somebody is confused. Students will be much more invested if they have a personal connection to the class. Although these connections come naturally in a traditional classroom, they can be readily attained in online classes too. Here are some ways to build social connections and cohesion with and among your students in an online class.
- Icebreaker Bios: Have students create an interesting biography to introduce themselves in class. Some tools to try for this are Atavist and Adobe Spark.
- Maps: Ask students to show where they are from if the class has students from vast distances.
- Social Media Usage: This can be a tricky one. Some like to use social media in class while others consider it a taboo. I use Twitter with my students. It is also a great opportunity to teach my students about Personal Learning Networks (PLN’s).
I hope you find this useful. If you do, please share with others who may also benefit. Don’t forget to also follow me on Twitter @JoshuaElliott3 for more tips and ideas.