How to Give Online Students a Sense of Community
One of the biggest benefits of going to university is how you make friends for life there. It is a turning point in a young adult’s life and the bonds formed during this process are strong. It’s one of the biggest reasons why alumni have such a strong attachment to their alma mater, as well.
With the rise of online degrees, many online students miss out on this aspect of college life. But, they needn’t miss out on it completely. There are ways to help create a sense of community even amongst online students.
In this article, I will give you some ideas on how to create a community with your online students.
1. Have some fun
One thing that happens on campus is students form groups and do some things together that can help them feel like part of a community. There are usually some events that happen like charities or games organized by the student government.
Schedule some things that are fun and force the students to divide into groups so they can bond with their fellow students. An online scavenger hunt is a good way to do this as it can be done wherever they are in the world and they can work together to win.
It isn’t exactly the same as being on a physical campus, but it does go a long way towards helping your students not feel invisible. You should also have a forum where they can interact and try to schedule some video calls so they can see each other and talk in real-time rather than leaving messages on a forum as their sole interaction with each other.
2. Get to know their interests
Take some time to understand what makes your students tick. Have a one-on-one meeting with them and ask them about their lives. Particularly their interests and goals. This will not only help them feel like an actual student and that they have a relationship with their teacher, but you can also help them along with their studies when you understand them.
When students feel like they are being heard by their teachers, they’re encouraged and it gives them a sense of belonging that they wouldn’t get otherwise.
3. Be the role model
The key to creating a community for online students is to encourage engagement and build relationships between students and also with their teachers. This means that it has to start with the teacher/handlers. Create systems in which the students have to engage with you and also each other.
You can start by creating projects that require group participation. Divide the students into groups according to what you understand about them as individuals that you learned when you got to know them.
Then, always be encouraging this engagement. When the students seem to be silent and not very motivated, make sure that you find out where the resistance lies and find a way to get rid of it so you can have your students form the bonds that they should.
Applying the above-mentioned tips will help you give online students a sense of community irrespective of their locations and physical absence. Let me know if this helps your school.