Creating Community video by Pilar

I really enjoyed watching her workshop this week. I felt that the exercise she did at the beginning where everyone had to socialize with each other and discuss what made a community also helped create the community for that workshop. The ideas they came up with, that she wrote on the board, and that I really connected with were:

  • Comfortable
  • Belonging
  • Friendliness
  • Safe


Pilar asked at what point an instructor hops into discussion board postings, as most everyone agreed those were the best way to help create community, I appreciated her own feedback that it is always good for an instructor to respond to students who are not being responded to by other students. She emphasized the need for the instructor to facilitate the discussion, just as we would normally do in a face-to-face class. She noted that this relates back to the students feeling validated, safe, comfortable and generally as if they are belonging within the class. I know there have been weeks in my online classes where two or three folks got a thread going and just talked and talked amongst each other but seemed so caught up in those interactions that they were oblivious to the other sixteen conversations occurring around them. It occurred to me that the other sixteen students might not have felt comfortable jumping on that smaller conversation, so I tried to parlay the three participant discussion topic into a more general one and tease those students out of the smaller conversation and into a larger one. It sort of worked – two students came into the big pond and participated with the other sixteen. I wonder now if those three felt most comfortable with each other and decided to simply leave it at that – they had found a clique – or if the sixteen felt like the group of three was inpenatrable. Either way, I did my best to “facilitate” but also thought I could have done more. This workshop gave me some good ideas and also showed me that mine experience wasn’t isolated.





5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jacqualine Dyess
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 23:31:59

    Hello Erika,
    I agree with you about the fact that sometimes certain groups or discussions start to take on a life of their own. I remember taking some online classes where that had happened and feeling, much like you mentioned, out of the loop. I think its really important as Pilar discussed and you were able to do in your course, to notice and manage those online discussions in a similar way as one would in a F2F course in order to guide the students through the concepts and help everyone hone their discussion and writing skills. Thanks for sharing a real life example with us.


  2. Tami
    Oct 22, 2011 @ 17:37:59

    Hi All:

    I have experienced this with certain groups too! I have received frustrated requests from students to subscribe to certain posts and threads (the ones they were most interested in). They do not like t when I say NO! What do others think about this? It allows the student to be notified when certain students post and removes them from the totality of the whole discussion. I want students to enter the discussion forum and really look around. This is important too because some of my posts turn into a mini-lesson or lecture and provide new information. At the same time, I recognize how difficult it can be to keep up with 100+ posts each way.


    • ericaduran
      Oct 24, 2011 @ 21:36:30

      Tami – absolutely. I think as instructors it is nice to have the benefit of being able to “grade a forum” in Blackboard for example and see everyone’s posts laid out rather easily, but for students on the other end trying to find each other and who they responded to etc…I remember as a student it was quite difficult sometimes. I love discussion boards, but they can become a three headed monster pretty quickly, lol.


  3. Ross
    Oct 27, 2011 @ 03:57:26

    So… perhaps a time limit? a word limit? No. of posts? Required no. of responses? Does this stifle creativity and enthusiasm? I don’t know. I find students are generally very supportive of one another and quick to adopt new tools, but trying to reach, monitor and facilitate hundreds of posts has got to be demanding.


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