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Building and Maintaining Community in Cohort-Based Online Learning

JDE Volume 20, Number 1, ISSN 0830-0445 Publisher: Athabasca University Press


In a multi-year study of a group of learners engaged in online graduate study, I explored the development of learners' sense of community using a variety of data-gathering instruments. An initial questionnaire established learners' pre-program perceptions of online learning and the notion of community; subsequent questionnaires, interviews, and a focus group monitored developments in learners' relationships with each other and in their sense of community. The longitudinal nature of this study afforded a rich and sustained investigation into the nature of community as it was experienced by one group of learners. Findings revealed that learners' perceptions of community and online learning shifted away from technical considerations and toward affective considerations; that learners took responsibility, and credit, for the creation and maintenance of their sense of community; and that the existence of robust community did not deflect learners from valuing face-to-face contact with cohort members. (Contains 1 table.)


Conrad, D. (2005). Building and Maintaining Community in Cohort-Based Online Learning. The Journal of Distance Education / Revue de l'ducation Distance, 20(1), 1-20. Athabasca University Press. Retrieved April 6, 2020 from .

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