Five tips to build a thriving social community on OpenLearning

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Online learning shouldn’t be a ‘lonely’ experience.

While many people know and don’t like this, very few platforms have been able to solve it.

The question then is, how has OpenLearning shifted this experience from a lonely to a social experience?

The answer is through a focus on community.

Traditional learning platforms give a sense of a lack of presence or regular activity.

They have been built with very little ways to allow students to interact and express their identity, ideas, and opinions.

OpenLearning, in contrast, has been specifically designed to facilitate student networking by creating in-built sharing tools to encourage group work, self expression, and peer-to-peer interaction that begin to form a safe and positive community.


Here are five tips to create a thriving social community on OpenLearning: 

1. Make full use of OpenLearning’s social media inspired feeds and “micro-interactions” that include features such as the ‘like’ button and platform-wide commenting ability.

Using these tools as a facilitator to interact with students leads to minimal barriers and maximum encouragement.



2. Aim to make your OpenLearning course both a meeting place for students with common learning interests (especially in the context of massive open online courses, or MOOCs), as well as an online environment where students can become an engaged member within a community of practice.

You can create student engagement by enabling active learning experiences. See the table below for the difference between active and passive learning:



3. Build rapport between both learners and teachers, promote social appreciation, and encourage self-expression.



4. Use OpenLearning’s blogging features to advance the ways in which knowledge sharing, collaboration, self-expression, and personalisation can be used to ensure a vibrant and engaged community within courses.



5. Provide a safe and welcoming space and tone for students to be able to have their own voice. This can be done, specifically, by:

  • creating a personal, online identity,
  • giving a sense of presence and fellowship,
  • promoting a community of sharing,
  • facilitating the formation of learning relationships,
  • building a user’s reputation within a community,
  • fostering collaboration in groups, and
  • encouraging meaningful discourse and conversations


There is no doubt that creating interactive learning activities helps to bring your course community close together.

Create activities to embrace this connectedness and collaboration, rapport and promote dialogue, discovery, exploration, and the sharing of diverse new resources.

The whole idea is to make your OpenLearning course a communal online space where the student community aggregates resources and personalises their own learning environment.

Next week, we will discuss the types of activities that you can create to enhance interaction in the community.

Would like to share your own take in building a social community in your course? Share it in the comment section below!

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