Creating an Online Community of Learners

As I reflected back to what I have done in the past I was transported back to March 2020, when teachers everywhere were thrown into the deep end of trying to navigate their way through online learning. I thought that by the end of June I had this online learning figured out, but as the next school year approached and more online learning was on the horizon, I quickly realized that no in fact I did not have this online learning figured out. I tweaked how I did my instruction, tools that used to try and make it more meaningful for my learners. As I have begun working my way through this class, my eyes have opened, and I have realized that if there were to be another time around, I would do things much differently.

Student connections and creating a classroom community is an area that I find to be so important. At the beginning of the year, we spend so much time getting to know our students. I really focus on trying to develop a community of learners through a variety of team building activities. I also give my students a lot of opportunity to work collaboratively on assignments throughout the year. But how do we do it within an online community? Last week we spent most of our time discussing how do we create a meaningful and authentic community with our students online. In an article I found on edutopia, “students are more open to learning when they are emotionally and physically regulated, feel connected to others, and have opportunities for meaningful engagement.”

One thing that I noticed in my first round of online learning was the disconnect that the kids had with not only their peers, but with their teachers as well. We would have daily google meets to go through instruction and assignments, I would give the students the opportunity to ask questions, but I quickly learned that we had to begin our meet with a check-in to see how everyone was doing. I started bringing in different activities, we would play games like Kahoot or I would ask silly questions during our check ins to get the students interacting with each other. I noticed a change in the students and their participation during our daily meet times. Students were excited to be there and to participate, not only during our check-in times, but during out instruction time as well.

Within the google classroom LMS you can ask questions and open it to the students having an online discussion.

This is another great way to get the students to interact with each other online rather then through google meets. Break out rooms is also another great way to have small groups to interact with one another. I also find that sometimes the breakout room is can be an easier place for students to open up and share compared to opening up in front of a larger meet.

Another great article to check out on edutopia How to Forge a Strong Community in an Online Classroom

7 thoughts on “Creating an Online Community of Learners

  1. Hi Jacquie,
    I enjoyed reading the articles you referenced in your post, especially the one about forging a community in an online classroom. Being able to connect with our students in meaningful ways and help us to establish relationships is very important to me. I really appreciated the focus the article put on self-care for teachers. The idea of intentionally building self-care into our lessons to help us to connect with our students seems so simple but I don’t think I have ever really done it. It is something I will be trying for sure! Thanks for sharing:)


  2. Your post resonates with me 100%. I believe students need more than just instruction and work. During the big lockdown of 2020 so many students checked out because they no longer felt connected. I think that having a great hook activity at the beginning of class is important to keep them coming back. I love the silly question idea, one thing that my students really liked was when I started with a would you rather style question. Students could debate for a long time about these types of questions if I would have allowed them to.


  3. Reading through this post, I kept thinking about how similar our experiences were. Going to online learning last year was such an eye-opener to a lot of people (myself included). I think how you created community with check ins was such a great idea and I could see how that would be a difference maker. I know for a fact that if I could go back in time, I would definitely do things differently.


  4. Very relatable reflection you opened with. Through this course, I have been able to see my shortcomings in blended and online learning. Personally, I needed a change in perspective, which this course has provided! I also agree with Chris and yourself, it is about more than just instruction.



  5. Jacquie, great post!

    I always noticed the “Question” feature on Google Classroom, but never felt the need to use it! Thank you for sharing this, as I was going to have students post in the Stream on Google Classroom for discussions/asking questions for my course prototype… This feature will make for organized, focused, and productive online interactions.

    Like Chris, I did a, “Would You Rather…” style Bell Work activity through Jamboard… We could have debated for hours if sliding down a rainbow was better than floating on clouds! This not only generated discussion, but my more reserved students even weighed in! Having a written piece was also helpful, as it offered another avenue to share ideas.


  6. I love that you start your online learning opportunities with check-ins to see how the students are actually doing. Building relationships is so important in classooms, both in-person and online. Thank you for sharing.


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