As every teacher knows, creating a class community is one of the most important things about teaching. This makes creating an online community even more important. We need to be a little more purposeful in generating this community when we can’t fall back on face-to-face interaction.
Before this was discussed as a blog prompt and readings, I appreciated Jenn’s post on Building Relationships Through Online Connections. She offered strong insights on creating a structure for students to build community on. I think this is important because for many of our students, this way of building a purposeful and positive community may be foreign.
For my course, I plan on using a few tools to build community.
- Google Classroom and Google Apps. I am using Google Classroom as my LMS which has numerous ways of seamless communication built in. This includes discussion boards for each assignment, using Doc comments to collaborate on projects, and email to ask more personal questions.
- Edublog. I plan on using Edublog as a platform for students to share their thoughts. I like Edublog (even though it is not free) because it has the privacy needed for students, but enables a community to view, share, and discuss with supervision. Thanks for everyone on Google + for helping me find a good blog site and giving me their opinions on the options. I really appreciate it. Speaking of Google +…
- Google +. I will be honest, before this class, I hated Google +. I thought it was pointless. Why did I think this? Because I had never used it before. Since being forced to use Google +, I have really liked it posting updates, questions for a group, link ideas, articles, pages, etc. I would like to use this for my students in the same way, and so the LMS discussion boards don’t get filled up and hard to follow. I listed this as separate from Google Apps, but I also like that it will fit right in with my other GAFE. (“I for one welcome our new Google overlords” Re: Kent Brockman)
- Padlet, ScreenCastify, etc. The other way I want to be able to build communication and community is by using visual communication. I want students to be able to post pictures and videos of their work, ideas, and faces. I am still working on adding more to this list, but I think we need to find ways for students to show their identity and see others. There is something very human about interacting face-to-face. Just because we aren’t in the same room, doesn’t mean we can’t find ways to facilitate this as well. (example – Zoom Room).
In the article by Schwier, he discusses social capital in online communities. He mentions that trust is the most fundamental value in creating community and genuine participation. My goal with choosing these communication tools is to create a safe place in my course for my students. If they feel safe, they will trust me, each other, and themselves in order to build a learning community. My hope is that if they build trust they will be free to participate in genuine learning.
Thanks for reading.