Building a Community and Facilitating Social Presence in an Online Learning Environment: Why? and How?
Abstract: While many instructors struggle to get their content online –for many a first time ever and a task done under great pressure—come crucial success factors for online teaching are being overlooked. Teaching online involves much more than creating a library of learning materials, streaming a lecture or overloading learners with assignments. Garrison’s Community of Inquiry (CoI) model (Garrisson et al., 1999) makes clear that where social presence is almost automatic in F2F learning environments, this is not the case for the online learning environment. Quite often, this is the combined effect of underestimating their importance and of not knowing “how”. This paper summarizes practical guidelines for building a community and creating a sense of belonging for students in an online course.