This paper describes survey research of fourteen online courses where instructors and students were asked their perceptions about the challenges and essential elements of community in online classes. Results show that both instructors and students believe building community is very important. The majority of both students and instructors perceived it to be harder to build community online than in traditional classes. Additionally, while the majority of students and instructors both identified the same elements for building online community, there were significant ranking differences. Most striking among the differences was that students ranked instructor modeling as the most important element in building online community, while instructors ranked it fourth. Implications of these findings are discussed and recommendations provided for how instructors can model community behaviors in their online classes.
John SherlockAssistant ProfessorDepartment of Human ServicesWestern Carolina UniversityCullowhee, NC USAsherlock@email.wcu.edu
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