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Building Community


Community involves “mutual interdependence among members, connectedness, trust, interactivity, and shared values and goals” (Rovai, 2002, p. 321). In the post-secondary context, community  contributes to learner success and student satisfaction (McKinney, McKinney, Franiuk, & Schweitzer, 2006). 


Building community involves effort both inside and outside of the classroom.  A strong classroom community involves learners feeling connected to each other and the instructor, the opportunity to connect over common interests and values, a place where there is trust, where people help each other, and there is open communication (Rovai, 2002).


Here are some strategies you can use to build community:

  • Begin your course by co-developing expectations with your students. This includes what students expect of the instructor, students expect from their peers, and what the instructor expects from students. Share these on your course site. 
  • Use icebreaker activities.
  • Use various tools to foster communication.
    • Use a discussion thread in your course site to have students introduce themselves at the beginning of the course
    • Use a discussion thread in your course site to allow students to post questions
    • Use anonymous polls to check in with students 
  • Do your best to learn/use student names. Provide students with a cue card to write their names on for in-person classes that can be displayed.  


McKinney, J.P, McKinney, K.G., Franiuk, R. & Schweitzer, J. (2006) The college classroom as a community: Impact on student attitudes and learning. College Teaching, 54, 281-284.

Rovai, A. P. (2002). Sense of community, perceived cognitive learning, and persistence in asynchronous learning networks. Internet and Higher Education, 5, 319-332.