Creating a Sense of Class Community in the Online Environment

  • Course activities are included throughout the term that will help create and maintain a sense of class community.

Tips & Considerations

  • A strong sense of community is an important part of what makes a course successful. However, it may form less naturally in an online environment compared to the face-to-face context. Instructors may need to be more intentional online and provide more frequent opportunities for interaction and community building. Read up on best practices for creating class community in online courses.
  • Take a few minutes during each synchronous session to check in with the class and create some class interaction. Consider starting the first class with an ice-breaker activity.
  • Load a profile picture in Canvas and encourage your students to do the same. This picture will appear beside announcements and discussion posts so that students can put a face to a name.
  • Consider creating a ‘Welcome’ discussion post introducing yourself, and encourage students to do the same. This could also be a good opportunity to learn more about your students, the contexts in which they find themselves (their time zone, living situation, etc.), any concerns they may have about the course format, their experiences with online learning, tips they can share with their classmates about learning online, and what they hope to get out of the course.
  • Build out-of-class interaction space: “Make ‘water cooler’ or ‘café’ discussion boards where the class can talk about current events and common interests. Create a social media page for the class where ideas can be shared. Watch a virtual event together and discuss it afterwards. Deliberately creating social moments acknowledges this fundamental aspect of education.” (Source: Faculty Focus)