Feeling Connected: A Sense of Belonging and Social Presence in an Online Community of Learners

Feeling Connected: A Sense of Belonging and Social Presence in an Online Community of Learners

Sara Jane Archard (University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/ijcee.2014040102
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Abstract

A sense of belonging is an integral feature of an online community of learners (OCL). This article explores the ways in which digital technologies in an online teacher education programme can facilitate social presence and in turn nurture a sense of belonging in an OCL. A sense of belonging can lower attrition rates in distance programmes that attract learners who are marginalised from on campus education. This can help address issues of social justice by supporting equitable access and participation in higher education. Findings from a qualitative case study indicate the power that digital technologies can have in facilitating social presence and a sense of belonging in an OCL. This study identifies the importance of several factors in this. Firstly, the importance of pedagogical understandings that digital technologies have different affordances in nurturing an OCL, and secondly, that each participant had a different perspective on the affordances of each digital technology in their usefulness for fostering social presence and a sense of belonging.
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Computer Mediated Communication

The development and expansion of the World Wide Web (WWW), combined with increased availability of access in homes, has meant that new opportunities have been developed for learning and teaching. Salmon (2006) refers to these opportunities as ‘net worked learning’.

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