Barry Dahl raises the point that while we, as lecturing staff, may think that students *want* to be part of an eLearning community – and take steps to encourage it, perhaps they don’t. He hasn’t actually given the results of what the students actually think – which would be useful.
I’m not sure that I agree with him; face to face students do develop a community while they are studying. Often it is just while they are studying, and often pre-existing communities outside the learning community are those that receive the full dedication. The benefits gained from speaking to someone about the work they are doing, in a relaxed, social way, is often very important to students. I find it hard to believe that online students don’t find that useful. Clearly online students are often, as Dahl points out, people with many other interests, so the online community may well be more transitory and purpose driven. But, I feel sure that it exists for a significant number of students.