Individual Blog #1

How can teachers effectively build relationships by encouraging safe communication and interactions in K-12 online & open learning spaces? What did you already know, what do you know now based on the course readings and activities, what do you hope to learn?

A major belief of mine in regards to becoming a teacher is the aspect of creating a classroom community and positive relationships between students as well as between students and a teacher. As expressed in our reading by Garrett Dickers, “Social Interaction in K-12 Online Learning”, the importance of creating relationships amongst teachers and students is just as, if not more, important in online classes as face-to-face instruction.

Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

Human beings, especially children, are social beings and therefore, “social interactions within online learning environments are a key to learning” (Garrett Dickers, 2018, p. 509). Not only do the social interactions between students have a positive effect on their learning but “a lack of social interaction [is a] significant barrier to online learning” (Garrett Dickers, 2018, p. 511). Garrett Dickers later describes that without the opportunity for social interaction or a lack of relationships in an online classroom (or face-to-face) students are prone to a fear of isolation, lack of social context cues, lack of student collaboration, a general preference to face-to-face instruction, and a lack of communication with other students” (Garrett Dickers, 2018, p. 511). Not only does our reading signify the importance of student community and relationships in learning but the whole social aspect of learning is connected to Vygotsky’s ideas of social development and how it is integral for the creating of a more complex understanding of information (Garrett Dickers, 2018, p. 510).

Image created by João Pedro Costa

The above paragraph verifies the importance of creating those online classroom communities and relationships with students to help them become the best learners they can be. There are multiple resources and support networks for the creation of a “purposeful design of online learning environments to incorporate multiple and diverse opportunities for interactions whether for social purposes, content-specific resources, or procedural interactions between teacher and student” (Garrett Dickers, 2018, p. 516).

As noted in Garrett Dicker’s chapter and our EDCI 339 webinar with Dr. Barb Brown, here are some resources for teachers to effectively build relationships by encouraging safe communication and interactions in K-12 online & open learning spaces. 

  • Discussion Boards
  • Blogs
  • Social Network Sites
  • Real-time web-conferencing tools that integrate chat, voice, webcam, and whiteboard technology
  • Flip-Grid
  • Remind Application
  • Video Messages
  • Video Feedback
  • Padlet
  • Google Jam Board
  • and lots more
Photo by Sticker Mule on Unsplash

I learned lots from our two readings and webinar about creating and fostering classroom community and relationships on online courses as well as online privacy and safety. Although I already knew some of the information, I am glad to have learned about lots of tools and facts about online learning. Both of the readings were very interesting and informative but one quote I liked was; “social presence is an essential literacy for cultivating emotions and relationships that enhance the overall learning experience [for all students and teachers]” (Garrett Dickers, 2018, p. 516)


Garrett Dickers, A. (2018) Social Interaction in K-12 Online Learning. In R. Ferdig & K. Kennedy (Eds.), Handbook of research on K-12 online and blended learning (pp. 509-522 ). Pittsburgh, PA: Carnegie Mellon University ETC Press.

Regan, P., & Jesse, J. (2019). Ethical challenges of Edtech, big data, and personalized learning: Twenty-first-century student sorting and tracking. Ethics and Information Technology​, 21(3), 167-179. DOI: 10.1007/s10676-018-9492-2

4 Replies to “Individual Blog #1”

  1. Great post, Josh!
    I found that the way you varied the placement of your images was effective in drawing my attention. Additionally, by changing the size of the pictures, you created a unique and attractive aesthetic. Also, your highlighting of valuable information and the use of bullet-point lists shows further evidence that you have a sound understanding of how to use multimedia learning principles in your work.
    In your first paragraph, you mention that the need for creating relationships is maybe even more critical in online settings than in a face to face environment. Do you think that this is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s subsequent social circle reductions? I ask this because I feel that it is, and a positive relationship with a teacher may alleviate a student’s feelings of isolation and disconnect that they may be feeling due to the implications of the safety measures in place right now.
    It was a pleasure reading another one of your blog entries, and I look forward to doing it again soon.

  2. This was a perfectly worded blog Josh! From the beginning of your post, I related to your first paragraph and your comment about how creating relationships between teachers and students is even more vital in an online format. With your paragraph outlining the importance of social interactions between students in a learning environment, I saw that we both see the importance of building and nurturing these relationships to foster positive learning effects, as well as understanding the dire effects that can occur if social interaction’s do not take place. I appreciate the fact that you added details from the webinar with Dr. Barb Brown as I couldn’t attend it. I recognized most of the online tools exampled in your post, however, some I had to research (Flip-grid, Remind application, Padlet, and Google jam board) to see the beneficiary elements of the relationships building resources. Lastly, I really enjoyed the last quotation in your post, I think what spoke to me most about this quote was that social presence doesn’t just enhance the experiences of students but also teachers.

  3. Nice blog post Josh! I really liked how you began your post by explaining the vital importance relationship building (and social interactions in general) play in learning environments, both face to face and online. Embedding your personal thoughts and experiences on the matter in addition to incorporating direct quotes from Garret Dickkers made your writing extremely strong, cohesive, and engaging. Further, I also appreciated how you outlined specific platforms/strategies from Dr Brown’s webinar for teachers to use to effectively build relationships in K-12 online & open learning spaces. Providing direct examples in your post is a great way to help other readers in visualizing and brainstorming ways to create a strong sense of classroom community. Adding on, I liked how you mentioned the different types of interactions that may take place and should be considered in the design of online learning environments (social purposes, content-specific resources or procedural interactions between teacher and student). I thought it was really helpful that you made this distinction because it is easy to lump together all interactions into a ‘social’ clump – knowing the differences makes it easier to know how to plan for what you need to work on with your learners.

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