While online courses have become a convenient option for students, their growing popularity has also exposed some significant challenges associated with distance learning. One in particular—how to foster community in online courses—is especially pressing. Unfortunately, digitizing aspects of the learning process has caused some of the human components to fall to the wayside.

Since online learning environments often include little to no face-to-face contact, building relationships between students, their peers, and the instructor can be difficult. And students have been feeling the sting, which shows in both satisfaction levels and academic performance.

The problem: face time

In many online classes, educators hold students accountable for their coursework, but student and peer-to-peer engagement isn’t always a requirement. Because of this, learners often miss out on opportunities to build valuable soft skills like communication and collaboration. Peer review is another great way for students to forge relationships, but because they aren’t physically present in a classroom, it’s difficult for instructors to enable these exercises. Distance learning also makes it harder for educators to provide personalized, timely feedback, which hampers their connection with students.

The solution: video assessment

Most instructors understand the importance of establishing a community in online courses, but they may not have the right tools to foster one. Video-assessment platforms offer a unique solution because they address the issue at a peer-to-peer and student-to-instructor level.

About the Author:

Jeff Lewis, Ph.D., is the founder and chief product officer of YouSeeU, creators of an industry-leading soft skill development and video-assessment platform called Bongo. As a tenured business communication professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver, Dr. Lewis is uniquely positioned to develop technology that addresses the needs of instructors and advance the learning experience forward.

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