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?
Links to the 2 other completed blog posts:
Why a Safe Classroom Community is important:
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 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).
There are dozens of 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). The paragraph above signifies the importance of a safe classroom community and the impacts it has on the students and the online classroom community as a whole. Students are then able to become the best learners they can and have more fun while doing so. All of our course readings valued and expressed the need for safe social interaction on online courses. Although it can be harder to build a classroom community for safe interactions online, there are lots of approved online applications (please see infographic).
Last year, I did an inquiry project on the Benefits of a Safe, Caring, and Respectful Classroom Community on student learning and attitudes towards education. Here are the lists of benefits that arose from my research:
Adding on, I also completed extra research with three peer-reviewed and scholarly articles. In the articles ‘Creating Learning Communities in the classroom’, ‘Enhancing Communication and Strengthening Teacher-Student Relationships’, and ‘Creating a Caring Community for Learning, all of the authors expressed the importance of open communication in an in-class and online classroom, the benefits included in doing so, and also, multiple ways to be able to build those communities online (due to word count, I cannot include).
Finally, as this topic is very important to me and my teaching philosophy, I conducted a short interview with principle and former teacher (name eliminated for privacy considerations) about the importance and strategies/tools to foster a safe online community with K-12 Students. The interviewee stated that obtaining and creating a sense of companionship and relationships in ANY type of classroom learning medium is very important for the well-being of all students and teachers. He added that by not having a sense of community or friendship, there are direct negative repercussions in student learning. Finally, he stated that due to privacy considerations, as a teacher, you really need to be informed and conscious about where the information is located and if it is a good suit for younger students. Although I was unable to get a list of tools to use, he stressed the importance of building that safe online community for everyone’s sake.
Gaetz, Susan. (2016) Creating a Caring Community of Learners. Texas Child Care Quarterly, 40(2), 8-13.
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.
Hue, M. & Li, W. (2008). Enhancing Communication and Strengthening Teacher-Student Relationships. In Li Wai-Shing Classroom Management: Creating a Positive Learning Environment (pp. 109-128). Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.
Martin, M. (2007). Creating a Community of Learners. In Building a Learning Community in the Primary Classroom (pp. 40-58). Edinburgh, Scotland: Dunedin Academic Press Ltd.
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
Saville, B. & Lawrence N. & Jakobsen K. (2012). Creating Learning Communities in the Classroom. In New Directions for Teaching and Learning (pp. 57-69). Wiley Periodicals Inc.