June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
Design in Engineering Education
24.239.1 - 24.239.15
Building a successful online student community by overcoming alienation and powerlessness Karen Bollenbach, Erika Powell and James Groves The University of Virginia EXTENDED ABSTRACTOn-campus college students build a sense of community and bond through classroomexperiences and extra-curricular activities. These experiences are often absent for onlinestudents and as a result they have a lower rate of persistence. Studies have found that thephysical separation between the student and the educational institution can lead to a sense ofisolation. As a result, online students can feel a sense of alienation from their institution andpowerless to change their situation. Numerous factors contribute to these feelings, including thequality and quantity of interaction with instructors and fellow students, the usability of theavailable online education software systems, and the demographics of students in the onlineprogram. As the popularity of online education grows, educational institutions will need to find away to foster a sense of community for alternative learning environments. Our investigationshave identified several methods for achieving this goal and accruing the resulting benefits. First,by establishing effective channels of communication, students can receive the timely feedbackthat they need from their instructors. This feedback should lack ambiguity and include positivereinforcement. Second, by encouraging and/or facilitating student-to-student interactions, it ispossible to create a greater sense of student community that lessens the burden of the institutionto provide all support and interaction. Finally, by providing students with an appropriateintroduction to the online education software systems, it is possible to alleviate student anxietyabout engagement in learning online.
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