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Building community in the classroom

March 21, 2013

Building a sense of community in the classroom can be challenging, especially in large classes or classes in which some or all of the class sessions are online.  In this Tech Thursday, we will discuss strategies for developing community using a variety of online tools.

Kelle Cruz has successfully used a closed Facebook group as the primary communication mechanism in a small Honors Seminar, in a ~30 student intro Physics class, and in a ~300 student Astro 101 course. She will discuss the guidelines she gives to students, the persona she uses in the group, and how she uses the group to facilitate discussion and to build a sense of community and to foster students' trust in her. She will also provide easy solutions to the most common problems instructors give as reasons not to adopt this method.

Laxmi Ramasubramanian will discuss both positive and challenging experiences from her fall 2012 Graduate Seminar on Public Participation and Geographic Information Science.  The class used technologies such as Skype, Google Hangouts, and discussion boards to support its ongoing work. Laxmi will reflect on the strategies she found to be successful in keeping conversations interesting and productive.  She will also speak about the challenges of using new online tools like Blackboard Collaborate.