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Social Aspects of Online Education

Online courses continue to grow as student demands for them increase. There are many strengths in online education, and though there are also challenges in terms of the social interactions experienced by the students, they are not insurmountable. The social aspect is one of the largest perceived challenges—the lack of face-to-face communication and sense of community. Indeed, research indicates that there is a close relationship between a sense of community and learning. However, online classes can offer a sense of community comparable with the traditional classroom. By careful course design and teaching methods, social presence can be created that increases intimacy and decreases psychological distance between learners, thus producing an overall sense of community. This entry discusses the importance of social presence for students and ...

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