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Belonging Online: Students' Perceptions of the Value and Efficacy of an Online Learning Community

, , University of South Dakota, United States

International Journal on E-Learning Volume 7, Number 4, ISSN 1537-2456 Publisher: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), Waynesville, NC USA


The proliferation of online course designs has changed the learning environments for many students and professors. Recommendations for best practice in online course design frequently include maximizing students' online peer connections, with the intention of building a viable, if virtual, online learning community. However, students' responses to and value for these virtual communities have been mixed. Graduate students taking online courses through a state university system were surveyed to determine their value for, and commitment to, this online learning community. Results, both quantitative and narrative, indicated that although some students found the virtual community helpful to their learning, others perceived the online peer connections as superfluous and inconvenient, and not supportive of their online learning processes. We suggest that the new reality created by online learning demands a reassessment of our understanding of the most productive student engagement.


LaPointe, L. & Reisetter, M. (2008). Belonging Online: Students' Perceptions of the Value and Efficacy of an Online Learning Community. International Journal on E-Learning, 7(4), 641-665. Waynesville, NC USA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). Retrieved February 21, 2019 from .


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