Community of Learners
 
We're going to be pretty idealistic here.  We're going to be pretty optimistic here.

Especially for a second session summer course composed, as our preliminary polling showed, with people with intricately multi-layered lives.

We'd like you to think of our class as a "community of learners."  As a community.

Which means not thinking of ourselves as isolated individuals, here just to be personally credentialed, and in some way in competition with others.

A community is a group of people working together toward a shared goal.

In a "community," members actively participate in the task at hand, respect each other, pool their diverse knowledge and skills, carry out their responsibilities in timely fashion, and acknowledge each other's efforts.

Community members work together like the parts of a body.

In a "community of learners," the teacher structures the environment but merges as much as possible with the group and looks to learn as much as teach.

In a community of learners, students look to each other for intellectual stimulation and growth as much as or even more than to the teacher.

In a community of learners, we are all in some sense students and all in some sense teachers.

The obvious practical sign that we are striving to be a community of learners is the emphasis on interaction through the discussion board.

There will no doubt be individual, "private" assignments.

But the heart of our course is our interaction -- "listening" to what others have to say, "talking" to each other about our subject, finding information, building a pool of knowledge.

A discussion board can only be productive if there is consistent, thoughtful participation.  We gotta expect you to be responsible to work with others within the reasonable limits of your other responsibilites, duties, and commitments.

Ok?

If there are no "voices" in an online course, there is no fun, and probably little learning.

We're going to be pretty idealistic here.  We're going to be pretty optimistic here.

But this is the way it oughta be, no?