June 29th, 2015 E-Learning

board-room-trainingTaking an online course can be a little lonely. Because of this, it is common today to see communities developed around courses.

In most cases, course communities involve incorporating a forum with the course content.

This gives participants a chance to interact with one another and ask questions to the instructor.

In some situations, it is also a place where instructors can require participation (but not without setting proper guidelines first).

Online communities around elearning content can increase the value of the course and its effectiveness. Naturally, the amount of impact largely depends on the implementation as well as the course subject.

If the course content is around compliance then a forum is probably not going to add much value. If however the content is designed to teach people a new skill (that they should implement), then having a forum is a great way to help people after interacting with the material.

How To Create an Online Community

As I’ve mentioned already, forums are a great (and easy) way to create an online community around your course offering. If you are using WordPress and the LearnDash LMS plugin, you can easily set this up with our bbPress integration. There are other options as well.

For example, there are businesses that find the Facebook group feature to be quite useful. This requires some manual setup and maintenance, but the Facebook private group functionality will make it possible for people to interact like they would in a forum.

One advantage of this approach that most people are already familiar with Facebook so they don’t need to have a new or different account. The disadvantage is that the Facebook private group functionality is a little “messy”. It can be difficult to search the group’s past conversations. Also, you have to manually add and remove users to the private group, so there is an extra administrative step.

Nonetheless, if this is an approach you want to take then this article by Digital Marketer can help get you started.

Regardless of what you use to create your course community, do understand that it takes time and extra effort to implement. Take the time continually encourage participation and soon your forums will bustle with activity.

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About Justin Ferriman

Justin Ferriman started LearnDash, the WordPress LMS trusted by Fortune 500 companies, major universities, training organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide for creating (and selling) their online courses. Justin's Homepage | Twitter

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We have not set up the academy yet, but we are still creating the courses.

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Excellent article as always Justin.

As a tutor I use LearnDash to give my students a structured learning process then supplement the course with a private Facebook group. When I compare the results of having a course on it’s own vs a course + private group, it’s clear how powerful the community aspect is. Not only do students interact and help each other out, but I noticed students were more likely to actually complete the courses when they were involved in the private group.

Thanks for the comment Catherine – it’s always great to hear how these ideas are implemented and the actual impact it can have on a business.

I truly agree that there has to be some form of relationship between the learners and instructor in order to form a learning community online and allow the participants to interact and ask questions. It also allows students to interact and help provide guidance for one another.
I find myself a little leery about the idea of building and managing a Private Facebook group. Do you feel that this creates a conflict between one’s personal and professional life? I feel that there are certain situations and or settings where this may be fine, and others where it would not.

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