Linda D Bloomberg


Online education provides educational resources in various forms of media, supporting both real-time and asynchronous communication between learners and instructors and between diverse learners. Together with the plethora of endorsement of distance education, however, comes the concern that something of educational value might be missing in the virtual environment that employs technology as a way of linking learners with peers and instructors. Research shows that the creation of an online community is key to developing a conducive learning environment, and interactive technologies, used wisely, can serve to foster interactivity and social connectedness. In 2014 Northcentral University instituted The Commons, a community engagement platform that provides students, faculty, and staff with the opportunity to connect and support each other “outside the classroom virtually”. The Commons was designed to enhance students’ educational experience by creating a vibrant and dynamic learning community. In 2017 the University community was invited to participate in a survey, the findings of which uncovered community engagement preferences of students and faculty, enabling a better understanding of the experience of using the Commons as a means to receive support and resources. These findings helped identify ways in which to make improvements and changes to continue to foster community and engagement.