A challenge with online learning is ensuring you build a community for student-to-student and student-to-faculty engagement. By design, our 1-to-1 “Teaching Through Engagement (TTE)” model promotes faculty-to-student community. To build student-to-student and student-to-alumni community among all constituencies requires additional approaches.
Community starts with the online NCU Commons – think Facebook but internal, only for NCU students, alumni, and faculty. The Commons creates community in many ways, including single discipline, interdisciplinary, or topic-focused communities. These online communities, discussion threads, and forums provide students with a chance to connect with their peers.
Optional dissertation boot camps, practicums, edu-tourism trips, and geographical student-faculty-alumni events also help build these important relationships that create community. Some of those relationships begin in “pop-up” continuing education or blended courses.
Finally, NCU is embarking on some nontraditional efforts at building community, like an upcoming Royal Caribbean cruise sponsored by the NCU Alumni Association. Over 100 NCU alumni, students, faculty, and staff are joining us for NCU Sails. This event consists of a weeklong adventure of workshops, mentoring, and networking, all while cruising the eastern Caribbean. Future events will include resort-based workshops and student-alumni events, both domestic and international.
At NCU, our online students are free to choose how much student-to-student/alumni community they desire and in what format they prefer to participate. We look forward to hosting more events throughout the year focused on celebrating the NCU community!