Online Teaching: Building a Learning Community with Virtual Meeting Tools

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I was once an online student. It was a great learning experience, and I thrived in that environment!

So, I have to ask myself … what made my online learning experience so great?

I was part of a learning community! I had opportunities to truly connect with and interact with my professors and peers using virtual meeting tools.

Unfortunately, that is not everyone’s experience. Many students report difficulty in the online learning environment (Yuan & Kim, 2014).

Two studies (Lee & Choi, 2011; Willging & Johnson, 2009) indicated that online learners dropped out mainly due to the “lack of interactions with instructors and peers” (Yuan and Kim, 2014, p. 220) and more specifically, “the lack of human interaction” (Willging and Johnson, 2009, p. 125).

What is the solution to combating those feelings of isolation, increasing interaction, adding a human element, and ultimately increasing retention in the online courseroom?

Technologies offer us some solutions. Using a virtual meeting platform, many of which are free and user-friendly, we can connect with our students and offer them a space to connect with their peers.

We can see faces, hear voices, and interact in real-time! We can experience the “human” part of the learning community!

JoinMe, Zoom, GoToMeeting, and Adobe Connect are all excellent tools for connecting with our students and offering them a learning community outside of the traditional, sometimes less interactive, asynchronous discussion forum.

It is not enough to just offer and use these technology tools. We need to know HOW to use the tools, WHAT to do with that time, STRATEGIES that actually build a learning community, and much more.

Watch for more details on this topic coming up in future blogs here at

Paid versions of these tools are available, and some offer educator discounts.
Some institutions purchase shareable licenses for the teaching faculty.

Offers a free version for up to 100 participants.

Offers a free version for up to 3 participants.

Offers a free version for up to 3 participants.

Adobe Connect:
Offers a free version for up to 3 participants.

Feel free to contact me via
LinkedInTwitter or email.
You can also find samples of my work on SlideShare.

Article References:

Lee, Y., & Choi, J. (2011) A review of online course dropout research: Implications for practice and future research. Educational Technology Research and Development, 59(5), 593-618. doi:10.1007/s11423-010-9177-y

Willging, P.A., & Johnson, S. D. (2009). Factors that influence students’ decisions to dropout of online courses. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 13(3), 115-127.

Yuan, J., & Kim, C. (2014). Guidelines for facilitating the development of learning communities in online courses. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 30(3), 220-232. doi:10.1111/jcal.12042


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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