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Implementing Successful Online Learning Communities

Implementing Successful Online Learning Communities
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Author(s): Diane E. Beck (University of Florida, USA) and Sven A. Normann (University of Florida, USA)
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 8
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.ch161


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In the last decade, the number of courses using online learning has increased significantly and based on student demand; continued growth is projected. Although distance learning is well accepted, when compared to traditional classroom learning, lower student satisfaction, higher student attrition, and concerns about quality have been reported (Rovai, 2002a; Rovai, 2002b). The absence of “community” has been associated with each of these issues and this has stimulated research about how to successfully build a community in a virtual environment, to overcome these challenges. Successful online learning communities are also important for most blended learning courses (Rovai & Jordan, 2004). Discussion boards and other tools are being increasingly used to supplement instruction during traditional classroom courses. Therefore, across most courses in higher education today it is imperative that faculty members know how to establish and sustain successful online learning communities. The goals of this article are to a) define “online learning community” and delineate the factors that contribute to a successful learning community, b) review the evidence supporting the importance of a learning community in distance and online learning, and c) recommend strategies to promote achievement of a successful learning community.

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