Building an Online Learning Community: Reflections on the Challenges and Possible Approaches

The sudden disruption caused by Covid-19 has posed great challenges to everyday teaching in higher education. During Spring 2020, the author modified two project-based undergraduate courses when delivering online teaching to students with diverse cultural backgrounds located in different parts of the world. The courses the author taught have a high level of active learning component and are designed to promote peer collaboration and self-regulated learning. In this presentation, the author will reflect on the difficulty of building an online learning community by reflecting on her own teaching practices with supported evidence from students’ reflective journals. The author will put forward the tentative argument that when migrating this type of courses online, more efforts need to be made at the beginning of the course to establish a stronger bond within the learning community. The author will discuss how she designed warm-up exercises as examples of her attempts to achieve this goal. Anecdotal experiences regarding her current mix-mode teaching will also be mentioned.

Yanyue Yuan is Assistant Arts Professor at the Division of Arts and Sciences, New York University – Shanghai, where she co-runs the Creative Experience Design Lab at the Program on Creativity and Innovation (PCI). She holds a PhD in Education from the University of Cambridge and a Master’s degree from the University of Oxford. Prior to joining NYU Shanghai, she worked as Rutherford Curatorial Researcher at the London Science Museum and taught in ShanghaiTech University as Adjunct Assistant Professor. She has published more than fifteen journal papers and book chapters and has rich experience in exploratory and inquiry-based teaching. Yanyue’s research areas include: art education, creative learning experience in formal and informal contexts, project-based learning, and cultural and creative industries.