Module 2: Building and Sustaining an Online Community

In this Module we’ll examine why informal interactions and student-led spaces are so important to building community in online teaching and learning.


Participants will:

  • Take away key concepts from existing SoTL on student cafes and informal weekly check-ins
  • Examine those concepts in action
  • Practice independently by creating a document of ice breaker or ongoing community building activities
  • Reflect on instances of informal interactions from past teaching and learning experiences

Community Building Activity

Share a gif that represents your mood this week.

Explore the Resources

Review this slide-deck on community building activities, examples, and resources. We’ve made a conscious effort to consider the beginning of the semester activities, as well as practices you can incorporate to build community and foster active learning, in academic and social ways, throughout your semester.


Creating, Building, and Sustaining Community

Research points to the fact that sustaining groups and connectedness throughout the semester leads to greater successes for our students.

Consider  the following questions:

  • How do you sustain a community?
  • At the beginning of the semester?
  • Throughout the semester, academically?
  • Throughout the semester, socially/casually?

Pratt Faculty Voices

Click here to view more responses by Pratt faculty who participated in the RTO.

Mirroring behavior through instructor’s “best practices”

Faculty Member

Assigning discussion leaders; asking students to repeat main takeouts from asynchronous materials

Faculty Member

Highlighting the importance of transferable skills – learning as a discipline is a transferable skill, being open minded to topics/information that you might not naturally gravitate for

Faculty Member

Review the Resources

What is a netiquette?  It’s simply a set of codes for polite behavior online.

See this information for a more detailed definition. 

Then take a look at what netiquette policies other Pratt faculty suggested.

Pratt Faculty Voices

Click here to view more responses by Pratt faculty who participated in the RTO.

In this new context of online teaching, let’s keep our humanity. Please remember that there is a human behind each post. Be respectful and polite through all of your online interactions. Try to stay on topic and write clearly. Please always remember to cite any shared material (author, date, link). Your instructor will be patient and kind with you. Please be patient and kind with your instructor, your classmates, and yourself. Ask for help if needed.

Faculty Member

Review the Resources

Build confidence by helping students to establish social presence online, providing guidance and explanation similar to what you’d say in class, and considering best practices for remote teaching with technology.


  • Create a sense of community
  • Explain how the learning materials and activities will help students achieve course learning objectives
  • Explain how each assignment is related to course learning objectives
  • Provide learners timely feedback so they can track their progress

Review the following two websites that lists free community building activities for educators:

Select one community building activity that you’d like to try in your online course community.


Update a colleague activity. 

Imagine that your friend or colleague is NOT taking part in this RTO series but you’d like to update them on what you are learning in this module.   Write a short note addressing one of your colleagues in which you answer this question:  How are active learning and community building applicable to your course or department? 

You may follow this template to update your colleague.


(My colleague who missed this RTO session)


(The topic of your update)

(Write a brief memo to your colleague who missed this module by outlining the three most important point you’ve learned about building online communities):




Your Signature:

Resilience Practice

Building Resilience with Embeddedness

Research points to the idea of “embeddedness” as a way to help students develop resiliency in courses, in college, in life in general.

During this Module, particularly, since our focus is classroom community, we want to lay the groundwork for the “social engagement” part of this cycle above.

“Personal qualities developed through Social Engagement:

  • Generosity: Being kind in thought and behavior towards others.
  • Integrity: Being in sync with one’s values and beliefs and to consistently behave in ways that reflect those principles. Doing the right thing even when no one is looking.
  • Authenticity: Being true to one’s personality, spirit, or character. Not false or imitative in speech or action.
  • Humility: Being modest, and able to receive joy from others’ success without one’s ego getting in the way.”


Complete this quick resilience scale (and prompt your students to do so, as well) –  at the start of the semester, mid-way through, and towards the end.

Reflect on the differences in your score  individually, or in small groups.


Why is community-building so important to YOUR particular classroom? How are you planning to build and sustain an online community in your course?

Pratt Faculty Voices

Responses by Pratt faculty who participated in the RTO:

Frank Millero School of Design | Industrial Design

Jane HaimesFoundation

Sam Bennett School of Design | Interior Design

Previous << Module 1: Creating a Welcoming Environment and Setting up Students for Success
Next >> Module 3: Access and Equity Considerations
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