Nowadays, teachers don’t go to the classroom to take classes, where students are already sitting and are ready to learn. Today teachers have to teach them online, and in this online teaching process students need to be engaged and teachers are required to interact with them regularly. However, just interacting with students individually is not enough and not possible for teachers. To fulfil students’ learning needs and make them feel connected, teachers need to do something out of the box. Especially when there are numerous students in the course they are teaching, and what teachers can do is create an “online learning community”.
An online learning community is an online space where the learning needs of the members(students) are met. These learning communities help students by solving their queries through a peer-to-peer system, the role of teachers in such communities is of administrators and facilitators.
Now, the question is how teachers can create a successful and helpful online community for the students. So here is the answer.
Collect Student’s Information: By student information, we don’t mean their date of birth or personal information. Students’ information should include their academic performance, their learning needs, the areas they are strong in and the areas in which they need help. This information will help you to come up with the right solutions for them and create an inclusive online learning community.
Selection Of Platform: As the online learning platform is going to be fully virtual, it means the teacher and all the members(students) will have to use an online tool to interact and form a group using online platform. Now, there are several platforms available on the internet, however, the teacher needs to select that platform which is easy to use and has better features. The features that teachers need to look out for while selecting the platform are the capacity of adding members(at least 100+), the feature of live video conferencing, easy file sharing feature (for sharing notes, ebooks, videos etc), good data security, attractive and understandable User Interface. There are a lot more features like a digital whiteboard, recorded live sessions etc. which teachers can look for.
Lay Down Community Rules: Every place has its rules, the school has rules, and colleges and offices have their own rules. So, it is crucial that an online learning community also has some rules which every member needs to follow. These rules are important to maintain peace and equality in a group, as teachers know that every student in the group will be different from others and they all will have their views and opinions. That’s why to maintain dignity during the discussions and debates, students need to follow rules. Like not interfering while one member is speaking, listening to the teacher when they are saying something & don’t interrupt, only sharing educational content in the group and don’t use disrespectful language with other members.
Provide Learning Resources: The online learning communities are created to fulfil the learning needs of the students. These needs are fulfilled by providing them learning resources they need, so keep sharing educational resources like notes, solutions, e-books, tutorial videos etc. from time to time. And sharing all this is the collective responsibility of all members as this community works on a peer-to-peer learning method.
Organise Interactive E-Meetings: Don’t just create a community where people are just sending notes and videos, a real community is one in which members interact with each other and know each other on a personal level too. This will make students feel connected with each other even in this virtual setting, so teachers to do so try to organise e-meetings on the platform. In these meetings students can chat about their studies, their life, future aspirations and career objectives; or you can also organise a debate or discussion too. This will give ample opportunity for students to interact and engage on various educational and non-educational topics.
Participation Of All: Just like during the pandemic period you wondered how to teach online, some students also wonder how to speak online in such communities. And as teachers, you must encourage and give opportunities to such students to speak.