Discover the five key benefits of offering an online community to accompany your course. In this post, you will learn how online communities can improve student engagement, enhance learning outcomes, and foster a sense of connection and belonging.
You will also learn how to create compelling community challenges. Whether you're a business owner, instructor, or course designer, this post will help you unlock the full potential of online communities for your students.
As Kajabi Experts, we're always excited to help Kajabi users get to grips with the latest features and functionality that Kajabi offers. One of the most recent upgrades that Kajabi offers is the ability for its users to create a community area. This can either be stand-alone or accompany a course.
If you've never set up a community area or are questioning how it can help your students, this post will help.
We won't explain how to set up your Kajabi community; we'll save that for another post.
On this occasion, we will talk about the principles of online communities regardless of the platform you are using.
We cover the following:
Ok, let's get started.
As a business owner, offering an online community to accompany your courses can have several benefits. The key ones are these:
Overall, an online community can help create a sense of belonging and foster a collaborative learning environment for students in your online courses.
But what about the benefits to students?
Clearly, from a business perspective, it makes sense to offer a community. We need to consider the student, though and how it helps them. Research shows some real benefits. For example, a study published in the International Journal of Information and Learning Technology found that students who participated in online communities had higher engagement, interaction, and motivation levels than those who did not participate. The Journal of Educational Computing Research found that online communities can enhance students' learning outcomes by providing opportunities for collaborative learning, knowledge sharing, and feedback.
Then there's the study conducted by the University of California, Berkeley found that online communities can help to promote social presence and a sense of belonging among students, which can improve their motivation and engagement. The Journal of Interactive Learning Research found that online communities can foster peer-to-peer learning, improving students' critical thinking skills and knowledge acquisition. And a meta-analysis of 70 studies published in the Review of Educational Research found that online communities can positively impact students' learning outcomes, particularly in critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration.
There's no need to dig out this research and find the key points. We've saved you from reading these research papers and summarised the key benefits below for your business and your students.
We start with the benefits for the course creator.
Increased motivation and accountability: A community can provide a sense of accountability and motivation for students, as they are more likely to stay on track and complete assignments when they feel a sense of responsibility to their peers. There's power in accountability and avoiding embarrassment, and being last on the leaderboard.
Access to diverse perspectives and resources: An online community can provide students with diverse perspectives, ideas, and resources they may not have otherwise encountered. This can enrich their learning experience and help them develop a broader and more nuanced understanding of course materials.
Flexibility and convenience: Online communities offer students the flexibility and convenience to connect with their peers and instructors at any time and from anywhere. This can be especially valuable for students with busy schedules or those unable to attend traditional in-person courses.
Improved communication and collaboration skills: Students can improve their communication and collaboration skills by participating in online discussions and group projects, which are essential in many fields and industries. Whilst developing these skills may not be your aim, they are a positive outcome that is worth recognising.
The bottom line is that when you offer an online community to accompany your courses you provide students with a range of benefits that can
- Enhance their learning experience
- Increase their chances of success
- And prepare them for future academic and professional pursuits.
Many online community apps like Kajabi's (formerly Vibely.com) have a leaderboard and challenge feature. So what do these allow you to do?
Community challenges are activities or tasks designed to engage and motivate members of an online community. They are a way to encourage participation and collaboration and can be used to foster a sense of belonging and connection among members.
Community challenges can take many forms, depending on the community's goals and its members' interests. They may be creative challenges, where members are asked to produce and share something related to a particular topic or theme. They may be knowledge-based challenges, where members are asked to answer trivia questions or solve puzzles related to a particular subject. They may be physical challenges, where members are asked to complete a task or activity in the real world and share their experiences.
Community challenges are often gamified, meaning they are structured like games with points, levels, and rewards. This can make the challenges more engaging and fun and encourage members to participate more actively.
So community challenges are valuable for building engagement and community spirit in online communities. They can help foster a sense of connection and shared purpose among members and make the online community experience more fun and rewarding for everyone involved.
We'll look at some examples of challenges later after discussing leaderboards.
A leaderboard built into your community area can help motivate students and increase engagement by providing a competitive element to the learning experience.
Here are some reasons why a leaderboard can be beneficial:
Overall, the best type of challenge to use in an online community will depend on the course's specific goals and the student's needs. It is crucial to design engaging, relevant challenges that align with the course learning objectives.
So you're eager to set up some challenges, but what types of challenges are there? Are they all the same?
Short answer. No.
Several types can be effective, so let's look at some examples and then go deeper.
The best type of challenge to use in an online community will depend on the course's specific goals and the students' needs. It is important to design engaging, relevant challenges that align with the course learning objectives.
Let's look at a couple of examples. The first is a reflection challenge for people studying hotel real estate investment.
"As you progress through the course, you are gaining a deeper understanding of hotel real estate investment and the various strategies and approaches that are used in the industry. For this challenge, take some time to reflect on your own personal investment philosophy and how it relates to hotel real estate investment."
Example Response From a Member Answering the Challenge.
After reflecting on my personal investment philosophy, I realize that I am primarily focused on long-term, low-risk investments that offer stable returns. I prefer to invest in assets that have a proven track record and a strong reputation in the market. When it comes to hotel real estate investment, I am drawn to properties that are located in high-traffic areas and have a loyal customer base. I am hesitant to invest in newer or unproven properties, even if they offer the potential for higher returns.
As I compare my personal investment philosophy to the strategies discussed in the course, I can see some similarities and differences. On one hand, I appreciate the focus on risk management and long-term planning that is emphasized in the course. However, I also see some opportunities to explore more innovative and high-risk investment strategies that could potentially offer greater returns. Overall, I am excited to continue learning about hotel real estate investment and exploring how I can align my personal investment philosophy with this exciting industry.
Here's an example of a creative challenge for fashion subject experts.
"As a community of fashion subject experts, you have a unique perspective on the latest trends and innovations in the industry. For this challenge, you will work together to create a fashion trend forecast that highlights the most important trends for the upcoming season."
Example Response From a Member Answering the Challenge.
After conducting our research and consulting with our subject experts, we have identified three key trends that we believe will shape the upcoming season: sustainability, comfort, and maximalism.
For sustainability, we predict that eco-conscious fashion will continue to gain momentum, with designers incorporating recycled materials, organic fabrics, and sustainable production methods into their collections. We also anticipate a renewed focus on timeless, classic pieces that can be worn season after season.
For comfort, we predict that consumers will continue to prioritize comfort and versatility in their fashion choices, with a focus on athleisure-inspired styles that blur the line between casual and formal wear. We also anticipate a rise in oversized silhouettes and gender-neutral designs that prioritize comfort and ease of movement.
Finally, for maximalism, we predict that bold, expressive designs and colors will be in high demand, with consumers seeking out statement pieces that make a statement and express their individuality. We also anticipate a renewed interest in vintage and retro-inspired styles, as consumers look to the past for inspiration in a rapidly changing world.
To bring our trend forecast to life, we created a visually engaging presentation that showcases each trend through a mix of images, videos, and text. We also included examples of how each trend can be incorporated into different fashion styles and looks, to provide inspiration and guidance to our fellow community members.
The frequency with which you post challenges to your community will depend on your goals, resources, and the preferences of your community members. However, a general guideline is to post challenges at regular intervals that give members enough time to complete them, such as weekly or bi-weekly.
If people don't engage with a challenge, there could be several reasons. They may be busy with other obligations, find the challenge too difficult or not attractive enough, or not feel motivated to participate. Here are a few things you can do to encourage engagement:
Check in with your community: Reach out to your community members to ask for feedback on the challenge and whether you can do anything to make it more engaging.
Provide additional resources: Consider providing additional resources or support to help members complete the challenge, such as extra readings, tutorials, or examples.
Make it social: Encourage community members to share their progress and engage with each other by creating a social atmosphere around the challenge. You could create a dedicated hashtag or encourage members to tag each other in their posts.
Provide incentives: Consider offering incentives or prizes to encourage participation, such as recognition in the community or access to exclusive content.
Revise the challenge: If none of the above strategies works, consider revising the challenge or replacing it with a new one that is more engaging for your community members.
Remember, engagement takes time and effort, so don't be discouraged if your community doesn't engage with a challenge right away. Be patient, keep trying new things, and foster a supportive, inclusive community culture encouraging participation and growth.
Our post, "Steps for Setting Up and Running an Online Learning Community," provides the key starting steps. Whether you use Kajabi or other platforms, these tips will give you the key steps to get started. Try Kajabi free for 30 days and test out their new community feature, which makes it easy to benefit from everything we've covered in this post.
If you'd like to talk more about communities or need to set up yours in Kajabi, drop us a line using the form below to schedule a free call.
Are you looking for support in planning, designing, creating, publishing or promoting your online courses? Schedule a call and let's explore how we can help you.
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