The internet has made learning easier and more accessible. However, with distance learning, most people feel a lack of personal connection that physical classes offer. 

There is, however, a way to build a personal connection during online learning: by forming a learning community.

In this article, we will share what is a learning community and why should you build one.

What is a Learning Community?

A learning community is a group of people who share a common interest in learning. They interact with each other to exchange ideas and information and support each other on their learning journey. A learning community can be built inside an online course website or separately as well.

Learning communities have been shown to improve student engagement, interaction, and understanding of the course. 

Objectives of a Learning Community

The main objectives of a learning community are to promote interactive learning, personal connection, and mutual support.

1. Interactive Learning

One of the main objectives of a learning community is to promote interactive learning. In a learning community, members interact with each other to exchange ideas and information. This interaction is essential for promoting critical thinking and collaborative learning.

2. Personal Connection

Another objective of a learning community is to create a personal connection between members. In a learning community, members share their personal experiences and stories. This sharing helps create a bond between members and helps members feel more connected to each other.

3. Community Support

A learning community also provides support for members. In a learning community, members can ask for help from other members. This support is essential for helping members overcome challenges and achieve their learning goals.

4. Better Engagement

Finally, a learning community can help improve student engagement. In a learning community, students are more likely to participate in discussions and activities. This participation can help students feel more engaged with the course material.

Should You Create a Learning Community for Your Online Course?

Now that you know what a learning community is and what its objectives are, you may be wondering if you should create a learning community for your online course. The answer is yes! Learning communities can be a great way to improve your student's capabilities to focus and learn.

It grows your network: Learning communities can help grow the network of your students. By having a central place for students to connect with each other, you can more easily connect with potential students and collaborators. 

It helps increase brand awareness: A learning community can also help increase brand awareness for your course. If students are actively engaged in a learning community, they are more likely to tell others about your course and recommend it to others. 

Student loyalty: Finally, a learning community can help build student loyalty. If students feel like they are part of a community and are connected to other students, they are more likely to stick with your course and continue taking courses from you in the future. 

Examples of a Learning Community

Interest-based learning community:

An interest-based learning community is a group of learners who share a common interest in a particular topic or subject. This type of community can be created online or offline, and it provides a space for learners to connect with others who share their interests. 

In an interest-based learning community, learners can share resources, discuss ideas, and collaborate on projects. This type of community can be a valuable resource for learners who want to explore a particular topic in-depth, or who simply want to connect with others who share their interests.

Action-based learning community:

An action-based learning community is a group of learners who come together to engage in active learning. Active learning is a process where learners are actively involved in the learning process and are encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning.

In an action-based learning community, learners work together to identify and solve problems, share their knowledge and experiences, and reflect on their learning. This type of community provides an ideal environment for learners to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Location-based learning community:

A location-based learning community is a group of people who lives in the same area and share a common interest in learning. The location can be a city, a region, or even a specific site. Location-based learning communities often have high engagement because of the common understanding and the mutual culture.

Profession-based learning community:

A profession-based learning community is a group of professionals who share a common interest in learning and professional development. These communities can be found in a variety of industries and professions, and they offer members a way to connect with others who have similar interests and goals.

Ideal Online Learning Community Model

Online learning communities are slightly different from their offline counterpart. Thus, building an online learning community model also requires a different process.

The Community of Inquiry (CoI) is a model for understanding the process of online learning. This model was developed from a research study by Garrison, Anderson, and Archer that was published in 2001. 

The model is based on the premise that effective online learning requires three interrelated elements: social, cognitive, and teaching presence.

Social Presence: Social presence refers to the degree to which learners feel a sense of connection and community with each other and with the instructor. It is created through interaction and communication.

Cognitive Presence: Cognitive presence refers to the degree to which learners are engaged in critical thinking and problem-solving. It is promoted by activities that require learners to process and reflect on information.

Teaching Presence: Teaching presence refers to the degree to which the instructor facilitates and supports the social and cognitive presence of learners. It is created through facilitation, guidance, and direct instruction.

Combining these three, you get the blueprint of a successful online learning community.

Things to Watch Out for

There are a few things to keep in mind to make your online learning community thrive.

1. Focus is too narrow: If the focus of an online learning community is too narrow, it can hamper the growth of the community. For example, if the community is focused on a single subject, it may be difficult to attract new members who are interested in other topics. Additionally, a narrow focus can also lead to a community that is less inclusive and more exclusive. This can make it difficult for new members to feel welcome and engaged, and may ultimately lead to the community stagnating or even shrinking.

2. Website is not user-friendly: It is very important for an online learning community to have a Website that is user-friendly. If the website is not user-friendly, it will be very difficult for members of the community to navigate and find the information they need. Additionally, a user-friendly website will help to keep members of the community engaged and coming back to the site.

3. Support is not responsive enough: When the support from mentors and members is unresponsive, it can be a major deterrent to learning. This can lead to students feeling like their questions don't matter and that their voices aren't being heard. And when students don't feel like they're a part of the community, they're less likely to engage in the learning process.

Build a Learning Community with BuddyBoss

If you think a learning community would be a valuable addition to your course, BuddyBoss is the best solution to build one. With its powerful course, community, and forum features, you can create a space for students to interact and learn from each other. So when are you building your learning community?

Author Faisal Sarker Faisal is a tech writer and marketer. Apart from writing useful content that help people around the world, he also likes to travel and read books of all genres in his leisure time.
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