- fostering communication
- promoting caring, trust, and teamwork;
- helping students establish support networks for academics and social reasons.
The specific question I want to address is for those interested in replacing offline curricula with non-moderated online curricula:
- How does one best implement an online learning community within an online curriculum where there is no identified teacher or director?
The challenge is not what technology to choose from (messaging, bboards, blogs, wikis, etc) but how to implement this aspect to aid efficiency and target deficiency in the online training. Assuming the training is well designed it is should offer challenge, reflection, motivation and feedback. Thus these not be the target of peer to peer interaction. A well done online multi-user simulation can potentially address teamwork [as seen in games such League of Legends and even CS Go] including communication and trust as well as leadership. That leaves an academic and social support network building tool.
Here, an online solution may actually be preferable. Online interactions can more easily be 24/7 and matched to the individual (age/gender/professional background/special concerns, etc). Well designed training will identified "accomplished" individuals who are qualified to provide academic support. And if necessary they can provide training in providing support (e.g., motivational interviewing, coaching).
In sum, adding learning community concept to quality online training is logical but should first follow more comprehensive development of the online training to ensure it includes challenge, reflection, motivation, feedback, and teamwork opportunity. The community can then be established to provide academic support from successful participants and social support from peers.
- Zhao Chun-Mei|Kuh. Adding Value: Learning Communities and Student Engagement. Research in Higher Education. 2004;45(2):115-138. doi:10.1023/B:RIHE.0000015692.88534.de.
- Ferguson Kristi J, Wolter Ellen M, Yarbrough Donald B, Carline Jan D, Krupat Edward. Defining and Describing Medical Learning Communities: Results of a National Survey. Acad Med. 2009;84(11):1549-1556. doi:10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181bf5183.
- Smith Sunny, Shochet Robert, Keeley Meg, Fleming Amy, Moynahan Kevin. The Growth of Learning Communities in Undergraduate Medical Education. Acad Med. 2014;89(6):928-933. doi:10.1097/ACM.0000000000000239.