5 Key Elements of Social Presence: Part 2 Community Cohesion
This blog is the second of a five part series on the 5 key elements of social presence. It is based on an article from the September/October edition of Learning & Leading with Technology magazine. The article, written by Amy Garrett Dikkers, Aimee Whiteside, and Somer Lewis, is titled Get Present: Build Community and Connectedness Online.
Is your class a community or a group of isolated learners? It is our job to build community. Students come to us and want that personalized attention and to feel like they are part of a group or community. Part of your role as virtual school teacher or learning coach is to foster and encourage positive social interactions between your students.
- Implement ice-breakers at the beginning of the course. Think about the first day of school in your traditional classroom. You probably don’t immediately dive into the curriculum. Rather, many teachers spend their first day getting to know the students and building community. Consider the same approach in your online courses. View the following websites for ice-breaker ideas for your online students:
- Reference “our community” to the whole group. Something as simple as this can help students feel as if they are part of a class and not working alone.
- Create a “Scholar Holler” or a Student of the Month to build motivation. One teacher in the article used the Announcements feature of her LMS to create a biweekly “Scholar Holler” where she recognized a student for their excellent work, showcasing it much like you might do on the walls of your traditional classroom. This is a great motivation tool.
- Utilize social forums. Create a Student Lounge, Student Coffee Shop, etc. using the discussion boards. Provide the students a place to socialize outside of schoolwork. Virtual students don’t have a locker or hallways to walk down with their friends. We need to be intentional about allowing them to have that social interaction with their classmates.
With second semester drawing near, it is a perfect time to think about building a community of learners at the beginning of the course. Share an idea that you have or liked from the above websites for an icebreaker for your class in the comments below.
Again, I encourage you to visit the article where the idea and much of the content for this blog series originated. It is a great resource for virtual school teachers.