Building and Cultivating Online Communities for College Students

Many of us are part of strong, online communities that help us in our personal and professional lives. As a participant–and grateful beneficiary–of several online networks, I’m motivated to try to build and cultivate online communities for two new projects I’ll be part of next year:

  1. Courses in gay and lesbian literature (one fully online, one hybrid section–but both covering the same material, so potentially sharing the same online space)
  2. The entering class of a new, all-online BA degree program in English at UMass Lowell.

Guessing that other THATCampers also have experience in/interest in building and cultivating online communities (and some¬†specifically¬†with student populations, maybe?), I’m proposing a session to share information about pros and cons of possible platforms and also strategies for community cultivation once students start to use the spaces.

Although I’d love to hear from anybody with any related experience, I’m especially curious to hear from other teachers because faculty-run communities for students have some specific privacy requirements as well as a vibe that differs from communities that are perhaps (or not?) organic, voluntary, and egalitarian than the ones started, essentially, by authority figures in institutional contexts.

That said, if the teacherly, geekier side of this proposal (talking about building community platforms) isn’t interesting to people, I’m perfectly okay shifting this session to focus on the second part: how to best cultivate an online community once it exists. My guess is that topic may have more far-reaching interest to this group, as I can see an intersection with the already posted proposal about silence and race. Particularly with my upcoming class on gay and lesbian literature, I know I’ll be encountering some issues around who does/doesn’t fell authorized to participate.


Categories: Session Proposals |