Online students do need the power of social connections to accomplish the course.
According to Gilly Salmon (.doc) an online group goes through the five stages of “access and motivation”, “online socialization”, “exchange of information”, “knowledge construction” and “self-organization”. These phases are accompanied by the moderator with small online tasks.
Roy Williams (on Twitter @dustcube) writes that for the successful establishment of an online group “comfort, fun, trust, engagement” is needed.
Comfort is a combination of clear structures, personal items (such as images or videos) and the readiness to develop in small steps together with the learners (co-evolution) this comfortable environment. (source = jupidu)
The one type of class in which students learned even more effectively than in either online or traditional classes, the study found, was an approach called “interactive engagement pedagogy,” where students interact frequently in small groups to grapple with concepts and questions. Such “constructive engagement” in the classroom is something education reformers have long pushed for, Pritchard says, and is already used in many MIT classes.
How to accompany an online course group
- Make your students feel at home as soon as possible.
- You could connect your students with other students in your comments on their work. Weaving their answers with links to answers and comments of other students.
- Use names in your comments.
- Questions are great activators
- Engaging student activities for more than one student. Group work, discussion, ask for comments, challenges.
- Excite curiosity with questions.
- Allow for choice for the students.
- Use (as soon as possible) reinforcement in social and fun and engaging activities of students.
- Add help files and give links to faq’s and how-to’s.
- Make students comment on work of other students.
Enhance independentness and autonomy
Participation in online courses challenges learners to develop self-organization, self-motivation, and a reasonable amount of technological proficiency to manage the resources and the more open format. Participants in online courses have to develop the mastery of an array of technologies and various networking skills. The nature of online learning requires students to assume active roles, to perform learning activities and collaborate in goal achievement.