Bounded Community: Designing and Facilitating Learning Communities in Formal Courses from the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning is a very interesting article that provides a blueprint -- for both instructors and students engaged in online learning.
Bounded Learning Communities (BLC) are: "groups that form within a structured teaching or training setting, typically a course.... Teachers contribute to BLCs by establishing a sense of teaching presence, including an atmosphere of trust and reciprocal concern." (p.1)
The authors assert that "in contrast to classic communities-of-practice formulations, substantial supports for course-based communities can and should be designed ahead of time by the instructor, anticipating the learning and collaborative needs of students. They cite the work of Ludwig-Hardman (2003) and suggest that "seven features that seem to facilitate course based communities":(p 4-7)
- Shared Goals
- Safe and Supporting Conditions
- Community Identity
- Respectful Inclusion
- Progressive Discourse Toward Knowledge Building
- Mutual Appropriation
N.B.: Ludwig-Hardman is one of the authors of the article the first reference --Case Study: Instrcutional Design strategies that contribute to the development of online learning community -- is cited as an "unpublished doctoral disseration, University of Colorado, Denver"; however, Learner support services for online students:scaffolding for success is available online.
The authors go on to assert that a "sense of community" and the notion of closure (i.e., the end of the class/semester) are key components of BLCs (p. 15-16).
The article also includes an instrument ("not yet validated") for measuring the "sense of community" in a given instance.
It mirrors the seven characteristics listed above and is essentially a checklist for ensuring that each of the "components for success" is present. The authors indicate that the instrument is "designed for routine use in e-learning and face-to-face classes" (p.16) and point to "Roval, Lucking, and Cristol, 2001, for a more rigorous measure."
Very interesting stuff. I look forward to tracking the progress of CTL 1608 as it evolves and grows as a BLC.