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Information Resources Management Association
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Community in the Online Environment

Community in the Online Environment
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Author(s): Janet Lear (University of Nebraska at Kearney, USA)
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 5
Source title: Encyclopedia of Distance Learning, Second Edition
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Patricia L. Rogers (Bemidji State University, USA), Gary A. Berg (California State University Channel Islands (Retired), USA), Judith V. Boettcher (Designing for Learning, USA), Caroline Howard (HC Consulting, USA), Lorraine Justice (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong) and Karen D. Schenk (K. D. Schenk and Associates Consulting, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch053


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Students enrolled in a face-to-face classroom have the opportunity to interact with their peers and develop a sense of community, feelings of belonging, and connectedness. However, students taking courses accessed through the Internet, while they do have classmates, generally cannot see the other students and usually do not interact synchronously with these individuals because the flexibility of both time and location allow for differences in course access. This lack of face-to-face synchronous interaction with other students enrolled in online classes has led to concern about online education because of the social nature of learning. To facilitate the social nature of learning, instructors in the online environment may design classes that engage students and promote the building of community among the students enrolled in the course. Those instructors who perceive that social learning is important will, therefore, encourage students to build the connections that lead to a sense of community and a successful online learning experience.

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