Taking an online course can be an isolating and alienating experience -- especially during periods of quarantine such as we have experienced during COVID. But more generally, research has established that for many students satisfaction and success in online courses depends on a sense of "presence" and connection with the instructor and with other students in the course. If we are committed to promoting student success for all, we need to recognize that not every student is mature and individually motivated enough to succeed solely on their own. This was true before COVID, and it is still true.
The processes for building these connections are sometimes similar to, and sometimes quite different from, face to face courses. Indeed, one of the main advantages of online learning systems is to provide the tools for new ways of building communities of learning. This presentation will summarize a variety of models for doing so.