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1. Google describes community as “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

” This image, in my opinion, portrays this idea well. We can see that this group is linked together, however, we have to assume that it is because of a common interest or attitude, but with our knowledge of how the world works, this should be a fair assumption. Typically people don’t link together because they don’t agree on something or because their opinions are all different. This makes me feel comfortable in saying that they are linked together because of a commonality. This sense of community, according to the definition, has always been present in the face-to-face, and for that matter, online learning classrooms. Students are linked together, for whatever reason, with a common goal of knowledge and promotion, however, the degree to which the community is fostered belongs to the community itself. In face-to-face settings, the sense of belonging may be easier to accomplish. Students gather together, exchange ideas, beliefs and opinions through verbal communication that could be about the class or just life in general, they physically work together while in the classroom, and then they gather again when class ends as friendships and connections grow. Because there is no physical connection with online learning, community building is more challenging. Although challenging, building a sense of community in the online classroom should not be ignored. In fact, Richardson and Swan (2003) found a correlation among students establishing a presence, that is, making human-to-human contact prior to the beginning of the course interactions, and student learning and course satisfaction. The idea of establishing a social presence is talked about frequently in the book, Building Online Learning Communities, by Pallof and Pratt. One of the ways this can be accomplished is through threaded discussions - “a series of posts displayed in outline form in the discussion area of the online course (Pallof and Pratt, 2007, p. 11).” In these discussions, the teacher can include information about the course, questions for discussion relating to the course or even information that has nothing to do with the course. All of these threaded discussions increase the sense of belonging and community within the online course. Community. (n.d.). The Oxford American College Dictionary, Retrieved through Google definition&oq=community+defin&gs_l=serp.3.0.35i39j0i20j0l8.2130.2560.0.3470. 0...1c.1.34.serp..0.3.510.8etSorko4Rg Pallof, R. & Pratt, K. (2007). Building Online Learning Communities. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Richardson, J. & Swan, K. (2003). “Examining Social Presence in Online Courses in Relation to Students’ Perceived Learning and Satisfaction. JALN, 7(1), 68-88.

2. I think it is important to portray yourself as your real self when you begin an online course. Many people send the typical “school photo” of themselves and that doesn’t show who they really are. I want to be able to understand something about my classmates from their photos, not just see what they look like. I think it establishes a better sense of community if you are able to understand the social presence of your classmates. I chose this picture because I live in the cold northeast (ask me why, again??) and I love being outside with my dogs (I have three). I don’t take myself very seriously and I am fun. This is my social presence and I think the photo shows that. The snowball activity was brilliant because it forced me to look at and read other people’s introductions instead of just doing mine and moving to the next thing. I was able to find out what I had in common with others and to find out interesting things about them. We are a group because of our goals in the program, but we are a community when we can establish common likes, attitudes and opinions.