Fostering online learning communities is extremely important in today’s world. Pandemic restrictions forced us to digitize our society as much as we possibly could, and almost a year later, we are still having trouble adapting. Humans are social beings, who need to feel valued with a sense of belonging. Communities are born through shared values and goals.
Our shared goal is learning, but eventually the experience will quickly become dull if there is a lack of personal connection to each other. Students of all ages want to feel respected and welcomed, even in online courses. The socialization that naturally occurs in learning environments like K-12 education has been diluted by the virtual world. We aren’t connecting to other humans online – we are connecting to their digital representations. Their voices and faces represented by binary digits, framerates and codecs. Although I appreciate how accessible information has become, it becomes a lonely journey if you have nobody to share the experience with.
This pandemic has affected everyone in different ways. I personally know many people who have experienced the illness themselves, some had to bury a friend or family member, others lost their job, and some continue to rely on food banks. I applaud anyone who is standing up to these obstacles while still challenging themselves to pursue a degree. It’s not easy at all. I hope we can make these difficulties less intimidating by fostering learning environments in online courses. I am looking forward to exploring new methods to engage learners and building communities online. #EDLT560