NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
PDF on ERIC Download full text
ERIC Number: EJ1064627
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Sep
Pages: 29
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 64
ISSN: EISSN-1941-3432
Don't Waste Your Time Teaching in an On-Line Environment
Potvin, Bernie L.
Research in Higher Education Journal, v17 Sep 2012
In this paper I address one question asked by teachers who teach online--"How can I build community among my learners in my class?" This paper provides an answer; in fact, it provides ten possible answers, in the form of ten models for teachers to use to build community in on-line courses. Each model has been tried and tested over ten years of post-secondary experience in designing and teaching twenty-nine online courses at four institutions in Canada. Community can be built in online courses. Each model offers ten unique approaches regarding how to develop community among learners and teachers in a course. The tacit notion hidden within and throughout each model is that courses that develop community and good pedagogic relationships among learners and teachers are those that are intentionally designed to do so. Each model described in this paper includes a unique structure of ideas, a rational for the model's use and some strong theoretical support. Each model is a particular expression of the general concept of constructivism--that thinking is socially constructed, and knowledge a social construction. When intentionally designed to do so, an online class activity of socially constructing some project or collaborating to design a scenario can lead to the development of sound pedagogical relationships. The premise in this paper is that community development in online courses must be designed for and intentionally built into in the architecture of a course. Community is a particular way of being in the world that comes about through right relationships; when we are in the world in particular ways we bring about right relationships, and bring about community. When power is exercised so as to bring about psychological control over a learner, right relationships are not brought about. When forgiveness for a mistake is asked for by a teacher, and in turn offered by an offended student, a right relationship is brought about. As learners in a course recognize a teacher's request for forgiveness, community develops. Particular ways of being in the world (e.g. offering and receiving forgiveness, dignifying each person's answers, truth telling to name a few) and many other right and good attributes in both teacher and learner are created in healthy community and in turn create healthy community, one that comes to be characterized by good pedagogic relationships. Community is essentially dialectical, a verb whose essence is right relationships. Community is sustained by particular attributes and not others. This conceptualization of community, while subtle, is the important basis for this paper and my presentation of the ten models for online course design and teaching. This paper draws from anthropology, psychology and sociology--how theorists in each discipline propose that community is best developed and nurtured. The paper draws heavily from best practices in education in North America. The ideas within each model are also drawn from my analyses of student feedback of twenty nine course evaluations. Finally, the evidence this book draws from includes learning theory and what is known today about how people learn in community and through relationships. The instructional designer with limited teaching experience may need to suspend disbelief regarding a model, to interrogate the methodology within each model until they try and test it in the heat of instructional battle. Each model will ring true for the experienced educator. Both the experienced educator and experienced designer of instruction will be able to give that "experiential nod" to what is presented in each model, and know why each model as proposed can develop community among learners. Experienced teachers know not to waste time teaching. They will recognise that each model offers much promise for building community among learners and teachers in on-line courses.
Academic and Business Research Institute. 147 Medjool Trail, Ponte Vedra, FL 32081. Tel: 904-435-4330; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada; North America