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Building Sense of Community at a Distance

  • Alfred P. Rovai
Keywords: distance education, community, spirit, trust, interaction, learning, persistence, attrition, ALN, online


This article challenges the belief that strong sense of community is limited to the traditional classroom and proposes that the virtual classroom has the potential of building and sustaining sense of community at levels that are comparable to the traditional classroom. Drawing on research literature, the concept of learning community is applied to the virtual classroom by taking on the issue of how best to design and conduct an online course that fosters community among learners who are physically separated from each other. Course design principles are described that facilitate dialogue and decrease psychological distance, thereby increasing a sense of community among learners.

Key Terms
Distance education, community, spirit, trust, interaction, learning, persistence, attrition, ALN, online

Author Biography

Alfred P. Rovai
Dr. Fred Rovai is an Assistant Professor at Regent University in Virginia. He teaches research and statistics courses at a distance for an Ed.D. program using the e-learning system. He has published on classroom community in distributed leaning environments as well as online assessment theory and computer anxiety. Dr. Rovai's email address is:
How to Cite
Rovai, A. P. (2002). Building Sense of Community at a Distance. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 3(1).
Research Articles