Getting to Know You…

Using technology is almost a given when it comes to online learning. Computers, tablets, websites, learning management systems, and so on, all of this technology is there to use to create and facilitate an online learning environment. If the learning experience itself is not effective, all of this technology is practically useless.

The facilitator of the course should know the technology so, at the very least, they can help a less knowledgeable student navigate the use of the technology. With knowledge of the technology, the facilitator also has more tools to use to help enhance the learning experience. For example, the course might only require a discussion to involve text but by incorporating multimedia this can help improve the experience. Conrad & Donaldson (2011) state that the best way for students to learn the tools is for them to actually start using them.

In forming an online learning community, setting up expectations can help the student understand what they need to do during the course and how to go about doing it. One obvious way to set expectations is to have a syllabus for the students to go over before the class starts. Another way is for the facilitator to have an introductory posting stating what they expect from the students, how they will grade it, and what to do if they need to contact the instructor. The discussion board is another great way for the instructor to repeat expectations and to get feedback from the students.

The students know the technology and the expectations for the course have been set, but this is not all that is required for a successful and meaningful learning experience. Keeping the students engaged is essential in a learning environment. One way to get this started is the ice breaker at the beginning of a course. Palloff and Pratt (Laureate Education 2010) run through several different ice breakers that keep students engaged and lets all involved get to know each other a little more.


Conrad, R., & Donaldson, J. A. (2011). Engaging the online learner: Activities and resources for creative instruction (Updated ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Launching the online learning experience [Video file]. Retrieved from


1 thought on “Getting to Know You…

  1. Z.

    Hi Marvin,
    Great post that reminds us of the awesome job the facilitator has in setting up a learning environment by being explicit with expectations. One essential tool in doing this is the syllabus and making sure technology issues are anticipated and that the instructor has the ability to address them, as you suggest. But, what I noticed about your post that stood out for me is that authenticity is at the core of your post.

    You state that “[i]n forming an online learning community, setting up expectations can help the student understand what they need to do during the course and how to go about doing it.” You also state that technology can help deepen the learning experience AND you can deepen the learning experience based on the technology that choose to incorporate (i.e. the incorporation of multimedia). Reeves, Herrington, and Oliver (2002) tell us that authenticity, under “’instructivist’ or teacher-centered approaches, activities were seen as a vehicle for practice” (p. 563). By including authentic opportunities as you suggest by having learners engage with the technology themselves you give the learner a “purpose and meaning to the learning that will occur without predetermining and limiting the scope and sequence of the enquiry” (Reeves, Herrington, & Oliver, 2002, p.563), which supports a constructivists perspective on learning.


    Reeves, T., Herrington, J., Oliver, R. ( 2002). Authentic activities and online learning. HERDSA. Retrieved from


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