Creating community in online teaching and learning: A case study of The Open University, UK

Baxter, Jacqueline (2019). Creating community in online teaching and learning: A case study of The Open University, UK. In: EDULEARN19 Proceedings. 11th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies. pp. 331–337.



Creating a sense of community in online teaching and learning has traditionally been a challenge for online teachers and learners.

This paper takes a number of research projects from one of the largest and most established distance learning educators in the world, The Open University , to examine ways in which faculties are looking to create this sense of community , and in so doing , to promote retention and progression for students. The paper begins by examining the whole notion of community in education and why it is seen to be important in relation to student sucess.

Drawing on constructivist theory , particularly in relation to communities of practice (Lave and Wenger, 1998) , the paper then moves to take three examples of ways in which faculties are developing new projects in order to achieve this. All three examples are critically examined in relation to Lave and Wenger's idea of communities of practice. The paper begins with a literature review on communities of practice and ways in which the original theory has been critiqued. It then moves to examine the innovations themselves. From here the paper examines to what extent the innovations respond to Lave and Wenger's original ideas, and draws on the issues identified by the researchers, to discuss what the implications are for the future of online learning.

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