Students meeting for an on-campus course have many opportunities to build community. They see one another on a fairly regular basis—for the class session, at the very least. They may chat before class or walk to their next class together, and come to form connections. During class discussions, students can see each others’ facial expressions and hear the tone that others use to voice their answers and opinions. And in the bigger picture, they share a common context—the campus in general, and the classroom in particular—that allows them to relate to one another’s experiences at a certain (even if basic) level.

But in an online course, building that same sense of community, collaboration, and camaraderie can prove more challenging. Students lack the “face time” they would normally have with students they meet on campus. Discussion board tools don’t quite replicate the experience or energy of free-flowing, in-person discussion. And, of course, they don’t have the same ability to build a personal, face-to-face connection with you that they might in an on-campus course.

These are a few of the challenges we’ve heard. Can you relate? What challenges have you experienced? Please share your responses in our survey. If you’d like to voice additional opinions, please write them in the comments below.