Building Hyper-Bonded Communities in a Virtual Environment and its Relation to Student Persistence
Concurrent Session 8
The online version of a course called Leadership and Communication is offered to new and struggling students at Western Governors University to help students build hyper-bonded communities and influence personal growth within the affective domain. The course was designed to support the university’s goals to increase: first-term retention, second-term retention, course completion, and graduation rates. The guiding principle of the course is that student success starts with both social support and self-reflective awareness, and that these two experiences prepare students to weather the challenges and demands of pursuing a college degree.
Our effective practice and intentional design of the course replicates the most impactful, community-based aspects of the traditional classroom but instead of requiring a brick and mortar classroom, places instructors and students on webcam in a virtual classroom that also utilizes breakout rooms for team time, activities, and one-on-one sharing. We assert that the visual representation of the person on camera allows students to interpret body language, emotions, and other nonverbal indicators that contribute to deeper and more authentic personal connections.
The course uses a blended collaboration of synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities that effectively accomplish the course learning objectives while conserving the time and resources of our adult learners, who typically have competing demands.