Building Community

2 mins reading and 8 mins viewing

Yesterday’s podcast conversation with Emily Wade focused in part on the theme of creating online learning communities for and alongside students. This is increasingly a pedagogical necessity amidst diversifying study patterns and behaviours, and a widespread sense of isolation experienced by a large number of students (and not only those who enrolled in ‘the Cloud’). Building inclusive, productive, and safe communities online remains an ongoing struggle in countless contexts (particularly when it comes to relying on discussion boards), though might be achieved in a variety of ways.

One way I seek to accomplish this is by using Twitter as a central communication ‘hub’ of sorts, with teachers and students alike contributing to a designated unit hashtag over a period of several months. The use of a real-world social media platform brings the importance of networking into the foreground, with students able to visibly, quantitatively, and affectively gauge the level of their own efforts as the trimester of study progresses.

As a conversational medium, Twitter can enable collaborative and collegial relationships to develop between students in disparate geographical locations, yet unproductive stereotypes about the platform and its users persist. The astounding archival footage included in the video below highlights the longevity that moral panics about new technologies have had, long before Twitter (or any social media) came to be.

This video is shared with students early in the process of studying a number of Digital Media units I’ve designed over the past few years, and gives a more detailed sense of how and why building an online learning community can be so powerful…

How do you build community among your students? What are the obstacles and what do you find works well?

Hit me up with a comment below or reach out to me on Twitter at @digitalzones – I’d love to hear from you!

And Happy World Emoji Day!! 🙂

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