When I reflect on my experience as an online learner I have to agree with Dr. Palloff and Dr. Pratt with online learning the Instructor can’t be the focus of attention is not a face-to-face show where all eyes are on the instructor, but rather students and their ability to communicate with one another and build conversations that foster feedback and learning from each other. Students cannot be passive knowledge-absorbers who rely on the instructor to feed information to them. In an online course, it is imperative that they be active knowledge-generators who assume responsibility for constructing and managing their own learning experience (Conrad and Donaldson, 2011, p. 5). There has to be a sense of accountability for students taking ownership of their learning by actively engaging with their peers and instructor every step of the course. The involvement of the learner in the course, whether one calls it interaction, engagement, or building community, is critical if an online course is to be more than a lecture-oriented course in which interaction is primarily between the learner and the content or the learner and the instructor (Conrad and Donaldson, 2011, p. 4-5). Online learning gives every student the opportunity to have a voice and grow academically with their fellow classmates at the same time. Online offers students the forum to communicate openly especially those learners who are reserved to speak out in face-to-face classes. Often times in face-to-face classes only a few students participate in discussions, but online every student participates in some way whether it’s with personal experience or building off of the experiences of others. Online learning communities can be sustained by instructors making learning student centered, engaging in discussions, providing feedback, ensuring that the course is learner friendly without millions of navigations and posting places, making sure the technical help is available 24/7 and access can be from anywhere. The relationship between community building and online learning is that the curriculum should be designed to promote individual and group activities that enhance continuous learning. They should be real world applicable as possible.
Conrad, R.M. & Donaldson, J.A. (2011). Engaging the Online Learner: Activities and
Resources for Creative Instruction. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.