While designing virtual learning environment, educators usually pay much attention to such a task as community building. In other words, they want to make students feel involved and connected to lesson activities. It is possible to adopt several strategies that can help teachers attain this goal. First of all, they can set certain behavior norms that the participants have to follow.
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For instance, according to such rules, a person should not use caps lock while responding to the post of another student (Sieber, 2010, p. 6). The problem is that this capitalization can be perceived as sign of rudeness, and it can make reluctant to take part in the discussion. There are other communication rules that can make discussions more productive.
Additionally, a teacher should warn students that disagreements are likely to emerge in any discussion. Students should not be afraid of expressing their ideas even if they contradict the opinions expressed by the majority (Ullman, n. d. ). This approach is helpful for reducing the risk of groupthink.
Moreover, it assists an individual in overcoming the feeling of anxiety which is common in the situations when team members are not familiar with one another. This is one of the first steps which a teacher should take in order to promote community building.
Apart from that, an educator should make sure that learners’ competition with one another does not prevent them from cooperating. Such situations occur in those cases, when a teacher pays too much attention to grades (Ullman, n. d.). This problem is closely related to group projects that students are supposed to do. In some cases, they may not be able to join their efforts only because they are not willing to share information with one another.
Furthermore, it is important to adopt tools that can facilitate the communication between the participants. For instance, VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) technologies can significantly improve the exchange of information (Hodge & Collins, 2010). In this way, a teacher can better engage students. Moreover, these technologies can emulate the environment of a conventional classroom. This is one of their major advantages.
Furthermore, there are many irrelevant activities that can prevent a teacher of creating a cooperative environment. For instance, some learners tend to use social networking websites or even play computer games such as solitaire (Sieber, 2010, p. 5). As a rule, such students are less likely to contribute to any group discussions.
This is why a teacher should tell that this behavior is not acceptable. Finally, educators can enhance learners’ sense of community by giving learners challenging and interesting assignments. When they work on such tasks, they will be more willing to cooperate with one another. Provided that a teacher can promote the involvement of students, they can better adjust to learning in a virtual environment.
On the whole, community building is important for online learning. Provided that teacher disregards this issue, the lessons and discussions will not result in the development of students’ skills.
It is necessary to focus on such aspects as behavior rules, technologies, and focus on the activities that are relevant to the activities. Moreover, community building is possible if an educator can set interesting task that can prompt learners to display their creativity and critical thinking. These are the main goals that should be attained by a teacher.
Hodge, E., & Collins, S. (2010). Collaborative Efforts: Teaching and Learning in Virtual Worlds. Web.
Sieber, D. (2010). Teaching with Social Networks: Establishing a Social Contract. Web.
Ullman, E. (n. d.). How to Create a Professional Learning Community. Web.