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Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Encouraging Community in an Online Course

Encourage a sense of community by inviting people to people to meet you. Communicate your personality and interest by sharing the subjects that interest you. Be willing to build and share a personal website, and be willing to show your own intellectual curiosity.

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Susan Smith Nash at the Philbrook Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Even the most basic information about you can be a huge ice-breaker to your students. If they know something about your research interests, your scholarship, your current focus, and your experience, it helps them feel a sense of confidence, and they will trust your guidance. If you let them know something about you as a person, they can attach a human face to you. The visual of this – the very idea of your humanity – mediates the learning space. It adjusts the learning space, and the assumptions and values that the student brings to the learning space are subtly adjusted. You are both approachable and human. This is absolutely vital.

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