Chapter 8 Key Success Factors of Virtual Learning Communities in Online Courses

Recommendations for Teachers

In: Building an Academic Community
Renata Marciniak
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Building a strong academic community is essential in both traditional and online learning environments. In the case of online courses, learning communities, offer opportunities for students to connect, collaborate, and build relationships with fellow learners, similar to a traditional academic community. The success of virtual learning communities (VLC s) can vary, and researchers around the world propose various factors influencing their success from different perspectives: pedagogical, didactical, technological, or socio-cultural. The challenge for teachers of online courses lies in identifying the most crucial factors and effectively implementing them to foster successful VLC s. To facilitate this task for teachers, this chapter attempts to answer the following research questions: what factors influence the success of virtual learning communities in online courses, which of these factors are crucial, and how can teachers effectively implement them to build successful virtual learning communities in their online course.

To respond to the research questions a critical and systematic analysis of 36 articles published between 2000 and 2023 was made which has allowed us to determine key success factors of the virtual learning community. Among these factors, there are: stimulating interaction between participants, promoting communication using different technological tools, and involving students in the educational process by assigning collaborative activities. The teacher should actively use these factors to increase the effectiveness of interaction, participant engagement, and the overall success of the online course community. To achieve this goal, in this chapter, we also provide ten practical recommendations for teachers to guide them throughout the implementation of these factors to build successful learning communities in their online courses.

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