Creating a Positive Culture in Online Learning Environments
Just as you consider creating a positive culture that supports and encourages learning in your face-to-face classroom, so must you consider creating such an environment for your on-line classroom.
Dr. William Glasser (1984) research on “Control Theory” lays the foundation for designing successful online learning environments. He notes that beyond the obvious physical needs that we all have, food, water, shelter, and so on, we also have four basic psychological needs that we are continually trying to fulfill:
- Belonging – the desire to connect with others, establish friendships, and to know that others care about us.
- Examples: Opportunities designed for students to work together on assignments, participate in group discussions, or group projects; providing an open and friendly online learning environment; introduce you online and have students provide information about themselves.
- Freedom – We all have a need to know that we can act and think without restriction by others. Freedom is being able to say “I choose to,” “I want,” “I will.” Freedom is being able to make responsible choices.
- Examples: Allowing students to make choices as to when and how they will complete assignments (i.e, paper, powerpoint, small website, podcast, etc.); providing resources that allow students to determine how deep they want to explore a subject.
- Power – the need to know that others recognize you for what you do or say that is important or significant.
- Examples: Provide opportunities for self-directed or discovery learning; provide interactive learning experiences that allow student s to share personal experiences related to a topic, and well as thoughts, questions and comments.
- Fun – We all have the need to laugh and feel good. When a learning situation is “fun” it is often more memorable and is much more likely to become a significant, meaningful learning experience.
- Examples: Provide opportunities for mastery learning – reinforcement tutorials, project redos, games, etc.; create individual or group competitions; encourage creativity in the development of projects.
Think about the online courses that you are designing. What can you do to create an environment that will meet the four basic psychological needs: belonging, freedom, power, and fun?