Faculty Focus


Seven Signs that You've Built a Community of Learning

In “Social Dynamics of Online Learning: Pedagogical Imperatives and Practical Applications” (reference below) the authors write that “Failure to address the social and relational dynamics within online courses may result in greater feelings of isolation among the distance learners, reduced levels of student satisfaction, peer academic performance, and ultimately increased attrition. … More often than not, most students wait for the professor to ‘do’ something that magically knits or binds them with others in meaningful ways.”

The following are some questions to ask yourself to determine whether your course has “the kind of communal infrastructure that makes learning fun and exciting.”

  • Do you and your students know each other’s names?
  • Are students comfortable engaging each other in discussion?
  • Does the discussion occur inside and outside the instructional context?
  • Are you and your students’ goals similar?
  • Is there a sense that the classroom environment is a safe environment for learning?
  • Do students display a shared sense of responsibility?
  • Have you and your students made an emotional commitment to the course?


Baker, Jason D. and Woods, Robert. “Social Dynamics of Online Learning: Pedagogical Imperatives and Practical Applications.” 18th Annual Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning. Accessed January 17, 2008 from here.