Building Community in Online Classes

Reading time: 1 min 40 seconds

Quick Excerpt:

To help with those who are new to online community building I’ve partnered with Maha Bali and Mia Zamora from my personal/professional network and the professional organization OneHE to curate some of these techniques and build an open educational resource (OER) which is open for continuation, adaptations, and growth. You can find it at https://oneheglobal.org/equity-unbound/ where you will also find opportunities to contribute to the resource.

As COVID-19 has pushed so many of our courses into an online environment, one of the most difficult things to do is to build community in these spaces. Simple things that we take for granted in online spaces need to be thought out and facilitated for community to happen online.

Just as you would build active learning techniques into your face to face course you need to plan and facilitate interactive community building activities into your online course. These can be synchronous or asynchronous.

I’ve been working in and building online community in my professional development and personal life for many years now. I can tell you that building community online is not something that comes naturally or instinctually for most people.

To help with those who are new to online community building I’ve partnered with Maha Bali and Mia Zamora from my personal/professional network and the professional organization OneHE to curate some of these techniques and build an open educational resource (OER) which is open for continuation, adaptations, and growth. You can find it at https://oneheglobal.org/equity-unbound/ where you will also find opportunities to contribute to the resource.

Many of the “activities” have an unpolished video example – as we want you to see how these really work in practice, links to resources you may need to run the activity, and some notes on adaptations for different contexts. Others, are more about setting a tone for the course and are more reflective – one of my favorites is Some Safety Considerations for Building Online Community by Kate Bowles.

Recently, I got the opportunity to present this resource to our faculty here at University of Michigan – Dearborn at one of our Hub Coffee Hours. The Coffee Hours start with a 5min presentation followed by conversation and collaboration. We record the first few minutes so check that out if you would like to see a demo of the resource.


Autumm Caines is an Instructional Designer in the Hub for Teaching and Learning Resources at the University of Michigan – Dearborn. You can read more about Autumm on her author page.

Cover Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay

Reading time estimation from https://niram.org/read/