Build community: an overview
For many students, being part of a community is essential to their success in a course. The ability to connect with other students and see how they're working through the material helps a student cement their own understanding of what they've been learning. Plus, it's very motivational to see other students actually using the content they've been given!
Many instructors find that by building learning communities, their students show a higher retention rate and are more likely to act on what they're learning. Instructors also find that connecting with their students makes running the courses much more fun.
And, it's a good way to get feedback on what's working in the course and what isn't. Building good connections with your students can even lead to amazing testimonials and case studies to use in future courses!
Building Community in Your Course
The decision to build a learning community in your course is entirely up to you. Some courses lend themselves to encouraging discussion, while others are more of a "self-study, do it on your own" kind of deal.
One thing to keep in mind is that different course types allow for different kinds of communities. Remember that the three course types are scheduled, on demand, and open access.
If building community is important for your course, consider running it as a scheduled course. Traditionally, scheduled courses on Ruzuku have the most active learning communities. Having a set start and end date for a scheduled course allows you to plan time within that period to engage with your students. It also focuses your students' attention and makes them more likely to be active in posting and commenting in the course.
It is also possible to build community in an on demand course. The nature of on demand courses means that people are continually joining the course and moving through your content. The level of engagement may not be as high, since your students will be at different places in the course. However, using live events or encouraging discussions is a great way to build community in an on demand course.
The hardest kind of course in which to create a sense of community is an open access course. Open access courses are designed to give students access to all the content at once. They're often used for self-study courses, or courses where students want to work at their own pace. The focus of these courses is on learning the material, not connecting with other students. Engagement and community is lowest in these types of courses.
It's important to note that building learning communities works best in scheduled courses that have specific start and end dates. Having specific start and end dates focuses your students' attention on the course material during that period, which makes them more likely to post, comment, and participate in a learning community. After the course is over, most instructors see a sharp decline in course activity, including the learning community.
How to Build Community
If building a learning community and engaging your students sounds like something you'd like to do, there are a couple of ways to go about it.
- You can use Ruzuku's discussion prompts, email notifications, course messages, and live events to build community inside the Ruzuku course.
- You can build community outside Ruzuku via accountability groups, Facebook groups, private forums, etc.
Some instructors choose to keep all community inside courses, while others choose to build community outside the Ruzuku platform.
A third group of instructors uses a hybrid model: they build community inside the course while the course is live, then transition students into an alumni community outside the Ruzuku platform.
Details on both options (inside Ruzuku or outside Ruzuku) are available in the related articles below.
Keep in mind, however, that it's up to you to mix and match as many tools as you need to build the learning community for your course!