Creating a Culture of Community in Online Courses
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Purpose - The topic of this paper is the facilitation of a culture of community in online courses using selected interactive teaching strategies such as photovoice, conceptual quilting, and online point-counterpoint debates. The paper is based on our experience designing and teaching online courses; and on original research. It essentially demonstrates how technology can enhance learning. Good practices, substantiated by research findings, are the centerpiece of this paper. Design– The research that informs this paper was an exploratory qualitative study. Participants described their experiences with selected teaching strategies through anonymous online surveys. Findings - The presentation describes how the interactive teaching strategies helped to transform the virtual classroom into a learning community that took on elements of a shared culture. A shared culture is defined as an environment in which participants experience an alignment of purpose and a sense of cohesion. In such an educational environment students and teachers engage in an academic dialogue leading to a mutual learning experience. The interactive teaching technologies assisted in achieving a culture of community by enhancing levels of social interaction. Research limitations – This study identified questions that could be explored. Research involving larger and more diverse samples, and studies that include quantitative elements, are recommended. Practical implications – Educators who design and teach courses online will discover many practice implications in this presentation. The teaching technologies described can be applied to courses in various subject areas. The findings could guide those who are striving to create a culture of community in online courses. Originality – The concept of culture of community has the potential to assist both in informing online course design and in helping online educators learn strategies that facilitate the experience of shared classroom community.