Statista reported in 2022 research that the online learning market is determined to grow beyond $240 billion over the year. Skill Scouter has previously identified how the e-learning industry has grown 900% since 2000, also identifying that 70% of the sector resides in the United States & Europe. Building community for online courses is essential now.
In an era where we’re handicapped by a pandemic, students are increasingly flocking to digital means to acquire certified higher education. This increase in the demand for online learning has rapidly given birth to online learning communities.
What is an Online Learning Community?
An e-learning community or online learning community is a group of academics & teachers connected via computers and other smart technology. Online learning communities are diverse groups that share knowledge & expertise, learning objectives, values, and resources for collective success.
Like a group of like-minded students with similar interests in a classroom, e-learning communities are larger groups working together to achieve learning goals, overcome learning challenges, and assist each other.
Why Build a Community for an e-Learning Platform?
Building an online learning community is an excellent way for universities to achieve a significant competitive advantage in 2022. E-learning platforms are highly dependent on the number of students engaged with their courses.
For universities, especially, who seek to develop quality human resources from their curriculum, having groups of students who constantly interact with each other online is an essential part of their academic and social development.
Apart from being a highly valuable asset, digital learning is a convenient and scalable feature for universities & colleges to reach a wider audience of students. Building an e-learning community allows teachers to listen to their students speak their minds. These communities become a prominent space for brainstorming and generating ideas, in addition to sharing knowledge.
Universities can enhance online engagement with students through communities built specifically for niche learning like archeology, neuro-science, sports management, etc. Students can directly engage with teachers to solve their issues, while students can actively connect with each other for better learning.
Here are five remarkable benefits of building online learning communities.
1. Cost & Time Savings
The most important advantage of hosting e-learning communities is the considerable time and cost that they can save. With access available from practically anywhere with a computer and internet connection, online communities offer instant knowledge sharing, communications, and video interactions.
2. Learning Beyond Borders
Digital learning allows universities & colleges to attract students beyond their geographical borders. This not only allows them to market their courses to a global audience but also have a diverse group of students from different nationalities sharing unique ideas.
3. Faster Learning
PapersOwl reported a while back that eLearning platforms allow 60% faster learning than in the classroom. Building an online community around a digital course can not only enhance learning but also allow every student to go at their pace. The group assists each other, helping out those with issues or lacking in the community.
4. More Personalization & Increased Engagement
Building a community for online learning offers every student a personalized experience while compelling them to engage with the community for support & assistance. Students have the benefit of not only engaging with other students but also their teachers personally.
Everyone has the ability to share ideas and knowledge, while students can work together actively for better results.
5. Reduces the Carbon Footprint
A highly underrated benefit of online learning communities is their ability to considerably reduce their carbon footprint. Since interactions are digital, there are fewer greenhouse gasses emitted with fewer car and bus trips, and no classrooms.
Paper waste is also reduced through digital documents and online library resources available through the online learning community.
10 Strategies For Building Community for Online Courses
1. Establish a Clear Purpose for your Online Learning Community
Every digital learning community should have a clear purpose and identity, being its most important stage. There must be rules established by teachers and the community, to protect against liability, while encouraging space for knowledge sharing.
Students must feel comfortable sharing knowledge, ideas, and experiences and learning with others. Teachers can encourage students by conducting personal online sessions and discussing their motivations and ideas for the community.
The goals & aims of the online learning community should be defined and shared with everyone so they understand the core purpose when they join.
2. Create Guidelines and Expectations for Community Members
Guidelines are essential to prevent liabilities and enact a professional academic atmosphere in the community. Students should be expected to uphold the rules that should ensure no personal information is ever shared in the group, the discussions are creative & useful, the communication is fluid, and the community is growing.
3. Know your Students
It is simply essential to understand and have a clear picture of student personas added to the online learning communities. Including more conventional students who prefer classroom education can have adverse effects on e-learning communities.
Understanding the characteristics and behaviors of online students is essential to managing them in an interactive group. Students have different time zones, cultural values, behaviors, and motivations.
Teachers must be provided meaningful personas by enrollment marketing teams to ensure they understand their community members better. Interactions become more meaningful and personalized when teachers know students’ motivations, habits, ages, interests, and education levels.
4. Select a Platform that is Easy to Use and Navigate
When building an interactive e-learning community, moderators must choose a social or networking platform that addresses all the essential requirements of the entire group. Usually, Reddit, Facebook, LinkedIn, and miscellaneous community forums are the most popular places.
Platforms should allow file sharing, communication, news feeds, and above all security & privacy features for the community.
5. Use a less Formal Approach for Discussions
It’s a great idea to be a bit informal, friendly and approachable in e-learning communities. Teachers should encourage students to participate in open forums, each contributing their personal views.
Providing community members with a friendly engaging environment bolsters confidence and instills trust in them.
6. Encourage Students to be Active and Engaged Participants
Moderators of online learning communities must focus on keeping students active and engaged with the community. Courses and training sessions must be creative to test their skills, in addition, teachers should conduct workshops, guest speaker sessions, games & activities, and personal sessions to keep students active in the community.
7. Use Surveys & Polls to know Student Interests
It is a highly recommended tip to conduct outline surveys and polls to identify various student interests and needs. Surveys can discover what subject areas students are interested in, what kind of support they demand, member feedback, and several other issues.
Polls are also a great way to decide important issues in the community. Students can vote about training topics, ideas, project reports, exams, and other aspects of the community.
8. Foster a Sense of Community and Support among Members
Teachers and moderators should focus on developing a sense of belonging and support from the community. The e-learning community is a significant part of the students lives and hence should offer them a place to find solutions to academic and personal issues.
Promoting online courses that use webinars is important to keep your audience engaged and connected with the community. By organizing discussions, group chat features, news feeds, and webinars, moderators can regularly bring all community members together. In addition, teachers should encourage in-person get together for outdoor activities like a bar b q or the beach.
Since digital learning can be alienating, meeting up for study groups or library trips can be a good way of bringing communities closer as they mature. Teachers should always be on the lookout for underperforming members in the community. It is essential to talk to some members over time as their motivations or circumstances can change.
9. Introduce the Concept of Peer Learning
Using recorded lectures and digital course management systems, e-learning communities can provide a peer-to-peer education network. Connecting the various touchpoints of the online learning community including social feeds, data storage, website, community forum page, etc. can create a highly optimized network of knowledge sharing and communications.
10. Celebrate Successes and Learn from Failures Together
Another highly engaging activity for the entire community, members should remember to always celebrate together. Birthdays, special occasions, holidays, and achievements should always bring the group members together in joy and celebrations.
The community must also learn from its shortcomings and failures. Consider it as a form of data-based decision-making, experimenting then recording results, and then improving.
Building a community for online learning courses is essential for modern-day students. As investment and innovation come together, great things are indeed expected from online education. Therefore, e-learning communities remain a core aspect of being part of a distant learning apparatus.
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