Healthcare e-Learning can be a solitary and sometimes lonely undertaking. Helping students get to know one another, and form a community, can be beneficial during and after the class. Even if students work in the same building, they may not know each other. Taking a course together can be a bonding experience.
For some e-learners it can be particularly motivating to have a group of friends online to share insights and experiences. When the course is over, these relationships can help reinforce what was learned during the course.
Some students study together live, at scheduled times. Others go at their own pace, on their own schedule. Here are ways to build virtual communities, which address the needs of both types of learners.
Virtual Student Lounge — Having a space where people can gather informally, to discuss material or other topics, fosters community. Facebook groups and Google hangouts are popular options, as are online forums. If the technology is available, create a space within the e-learning portal.
Student Profiles — Invite students to create on-line profiles. Encourage them to include hobbies and interests, so students can discover what they share in common. Short videos, posted on YouTube, are a highly engaging ways for students to introduce themselves to the rest of the community.
Planned Group Activities — Give people a reason to gather online, to discuss a particular topic or work on a group project.
Live Activities – When students are online at the same time, there are ways to increase a sense of community. Among them:
Sidebar — Allow comments and questions during part, or all, of the presentation.
Video “Hellos” – Make time during the classes for everyone to turn on their cameras and say hello to each other.
Breakout Spaces – Where appropriate, create opportunities for small groups to gather in video chat rooms to discuss material.
Motivate Self-Paced Learners — Have regular email communication with students, even if these are automatic emails sent when students reach milestones in the course.
Other ways to make students feel they are part of a community are virtual “office hours” with teachers or knowledgeable leaders, and the opportunity to give feedback, either during the course or at the end.
Everyone’s time is limited. E-learners need to feel, first and foremost, that the course they are taking has value and will ultimately benefit their lives. Community activities associated with e-Learning should be well organized and clearly presented, so students feel these are also good uses of their time.
Avidity Medical Design specializes in the design of engaging, e-learning curriculums for health-related topics. We tailor presentations to the specific needs of our educational and corporate clients. To learn more, including ways to build online learning communities for your students, please contact us.