10 Creating Community Online


How can you replicate the engagement level of in-person courses in an online space? This session covers how to take your online students and turn them into a community of engaged learners. Topics include planning for community, building community into assignments, humanizing both instructors and students in online environments, building humor into your courses, and specific technologies that can be used to facilitate community in your class.

Session Recording

Link to Recording

Presentation Slides

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Link to Google Slides Presentation

Resources Mentioned in the Presentation

General Links

  1. Session Survey
  2. Find your College or Course Liaison and book consultations
  3. ESS Information and Registration
  4. Tech Tutors
  5. Zoom security settings


  1. Research on Learning Communities
  2. Research on Online Learning Communities
  3. Using Humor in the College Classroom article
  4. Laughter to Learning article

Empathy Building

  1. How to Be Okay: COVID-specific empathy statement
  2. Health and Wellness Statement: not COVID-specific
  3. Ice breaker questions for higher ed classes

Tools for Human Connection and Using Humor in the Classroom

  1. Show Me Website
  2. Show Me: Lea’s example
  3. Bitmoji Website
  4. ImgFlip: meme generator website
  5. MemeGenerator.net

Penn State Supported Tools for Creating Community Online

  1. Access Microsoft Teams and Yammer from Penn State’s Office365 page
  2. Piazza at Penn State
  3. Piazza demo video
  4. Access Google Docs from Penn State’s G Suite for Education page
  5. VoiceThread (*this was not mentioned during the presentation, but is a Penn State Supported collaborative tool)

Additional Tools (not Penn State Supported)

  1. Slack
  2. VR Chat
  3. Virbela
  4. Virbela demo video
  5. Group Me

Community Tools Mentioned by Attendees

  1. Flip Grid*
  2. Perusall
  3. Remind
  4. Yellowdig
  5. PackBack*
  6. Kahoot
  7. Top Hat
  8. Terf
  9. Poll Everywhere*
  10. Mentimeter

*Tools marked with an asterisk (*) have been reviewed by PSU risk management. You cannot receive Penn State support when using these tools, but can use them freely and require your students to use them in class. Reach out to the company that owns the tool for support.

Small Group Best Practices

  1. Generating and Facilitating Engaging and Effective Online Discussions
  2. Small group best practices from the Flexible Instruction Teaching Guide
  3. Small group best practices from Penn State’s Hybrid Learning Website


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Engaging Students Series Resources Copyright © by Penn State Teaching and Learning with Technology is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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