Electronic Classroom, Electronic Community: Designing eLearning Environments to Foster Virtual Social Networks and Student Learning

Electronic Classroom, Electronic Community: Designing eLearning Environments to Foster Virtual Social Networks and Student Learning

Lisa Harris (RMIT University, Australia)
Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-984-7.ch030
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Abstract

The capacity for online learning environments to provide good quality learning experiences for students has been the focus of speculation and debate in the higher education sector from the late 1990s to the present day. In this area, “quality” has become synonymous with engaging students in a learning community. This chapter reports on a qualitative research project designed to explore the significance of community for students studying online. Using three fundamentally different types of online learning environments as case studies, this research explored the relationship between the constructed online learning environment and the development of learning communities or what the author has termed social learning support networks (SLSN). Exploring the common themes to emerge from these three case studies, this research provides new evidence of the benefit of community for students studying online and argues that future online learning environments should be shaped by five key principles designed to foster a sense of social connection between students.

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