Strategies to support community building to increase engagement and to address the challenges of multi-grade, asynchronous, continuous-entry online learning environments to meet the needs of middle school-aged learners
Kobetitch, Emily J.
Learning and teaching online present challenges unique to the digital environment. Informed by research, this paper intends to address some of those challenges by addressing the Critical Challenge Question, “How to support community building to increase engagement and to address the challenges of multi-grade, asynchronous, continuous-entry online learning environments to meet the needs of middle school-aged learners?” The findings of this paper have been applied in the creation of two virtual entities, a virtual homeroom and a program companion website. The intent of the homeroom is to build community amongst learners by providing structured opportunities for students build social connections with their teacher and peers. The program companion website will provide a secure platform for resources and other support tools. Overall feedback validated the two project builds and anticipated that the goals would be realized. Limitations for implementing this project revolve around time, availability and student and parent buy-in. Future research is needed to support the necessity of, and best practices for, creating online environments that foster community engagement.