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Cultivating an effective community of learners is an essential element of success in online education. This is not earth shattering news, as community has been a foundational topic of online learning research for years (Palloff and Pratt, 2007; Clark and Mayer, 2003; Richardson and Swan, 2003; Ko and Rossen, 2008; Graham et al, 2001). However, what is new and critical to the professional development of online instructors, instructional designers and other faculty or program support related positions (and arguably administrators providing the strategic direction of online programs), is the new suite of web based tools that have recently emerged that offer community building powerhouse potential.

On March 1, I will begin teaching a 4-week online class for @One, an organization that is able to offer very low cost professional development training for online educators as it is funded through a grant from the California community college Chancellor’s office. The class is titled “Building Online Community with Emerging Technologies” and it is an overview of tips and strategies for cultivating community online, couched within hands-on experience with web-based collaborative technologies that demonstrate potential for bringing students together, sharing ideas, crafting participating learning environments and knitting the foundations of community. Specifically, you’ll gain hands-on experience working with your peers in Ning, VoiceThread and WetPaint (a web-based wiki tool). I focus on free to low cost web 2.0 tools that educators can turn around and integrate into their classes, regardless of whether or not their institutions subscribe to them (this one reason why web 2.0 is so empowering for educators — and you’ll learn that you don’t need to be a techie!)

@One classes are something to be taken advantage of (!11). The 4-week class is only $50 to faculty and staff of California state supported schools, colleges, or universities (that is an amazing price!!). The courses cost $100 for educators outside the California state systems. Share the word!! Register before Wed, February 28th. Class begins on March 1st. For more information, please visit

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