Building an Online “Campus” Experience

Concurrent Session 4
Streamed Session HBCU Community College

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Online learning is about connection -- to faculty, peers, ideas, technology, and community. Join me as I demonstrate how to build a robust online community of connection, providing students with a full array of programs, events, community service, engagement and leadership opportunities typically found on onsite campuses.


Sharon Goldstein has a passion for online learning and student engagement that is demonstrated in her 20 + years of delivering online student support and engagement opportunities. Designed to provide students with the highest level of service and support, her innovative, collaborative approach has resulted in various recognitions and certifications for the organizations she has served. As Principal of SFG Consulting, LLC, she continues to offer her services to colleges, universities, and other institutions that are passionate about offering a robust array of online student support, services, and programs. Ms. Goldstein was appointed Campus Operating Officer for Berkeley College Online in January 2007. Ms. Goldstein oversaw day-to-day operations, finances, student and staff retention and support, space management, creative programming, community outreach and expansion. Sharon frequently speaks at conferences and organizations regarding online learning, management, innovation, student support, and operations strategies. She joined Berkeley College in 2003 as the Director of Career Services. Prior to joining Berkeley College, Ms. Goldstein spent 15 years working as a recruiter in the staffing industry and holds the CPC (Certified Personnel Consultant) designation. Ms. Goldstein has served as a Board Member for United States Distance Learning Association, and the Tri-County Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, Sharon serves as an Advisory Board Member of Stevens Institute of Technology, Web Campus. Ms. Goldstein was named a Fellow and inducted into the 2018 Lead NJ class. Sharon also served as co-chairperson of the 2018 Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Accelerate conference. She has also served for many years as a mentor in various leadership programs. Ms. Goldstein has served as a group facilitator for Neighbors Helping Neighbors, a grassroots, nationally recognized job search support and networking organization targeted to adults who are actively looking for work, interested in reinvigorating their careers and undertaking a job search campaign, and continues to support such efforts. She is a passionate advocate on the subject of work/life balance and delivers keynotes and workshops based upon her 'Feeling of Balance' concept. Ms. Goldstein holds a B.A. from Dickinson College and an M.S. in Management from the College of Saint Elizabeth. She is a graduate of Leadership Berkeley, Leadership Paterson, and Lead NJ.

Extended Abstract

Session Learning Outcomes:

1)     Identify key pillars of co-curricular programming

2)    Discover creative approaches for engaging distance learners outside the virtual classroom that can be immediately implemented.

3)    Receive a program-planning template to be used in the design of online student engagement opportunities at your own institution.

Online classes have proven to be as, if not more effective, than onsite classes -- that is, if they are designed properly!  Learning can be convenient, flexible, and result in the same outcomes as an onsite class would yield.  However, the virtual classroom is only one component of the “campus” experience.

It is not only possible, but imperative to create a robust online community outside of the virtual classroom with a full array of co-curricular programs where students can engage.   There are endless ways to connect students with each other through online leadership opportunities, virtual community service, and a full array of programs, events, and engagement opportunities. 

This presentation will focus on innovative approaches for building a virtual “campus” experience.  Examples include virtual orientation, welcome week, student government associations, festivals, common hour, community service, online book club, and more.  Many of these approaches can also be used to supplement the onsite student’s experience.

Discover creative strategies for engaging distance learners that you can immediately implement in your own online program!

At the conclusion of the session, a program-planning template, developed by the presenter, which guides the planning, evaluation, and subsequent improvement of program initiatives will be shared.

An open conversation is encouraged, where participants discuss their perspectives and experiences in relation to the subject matter. Sharing of appropriate links and resources will occur.