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Resiliency Factors in Online Learning

The role of resiliency in learning technology is pertinent. What factors would influence resiliency in online learning?

Resiliency is defined as the means to overcome or bounce back from stress or trauma. Because of various dynamics the human response can range from intense drama to persistent stress or mild depression.  In this context, we are looking at resiliency dynamics in the perseverance or accomplishment in a successful online learning experience. 

In looking at the characteristics for resiliency, Southwick indicates ten resilience factors that can be considered coping strategies when confronted with stress. Realistic optimism, facing fear, moral compass, religion and spirituality, social support, resilient role models, physical fitness, brain fitness, cognitive and emotional flexibility and meaning and purpose. Of these, social support and meaning and support are appropriate to the role of learning technology. 

When we think of social support in online learning, discussion boards are perhaps the most prevalent form of social support. What types of support are beneficial in an online learning experience to assist with satisfaction and completion of a course? Social support has been defined as “the exchange of verbal and nonverbal messages conveying emotion, information, or referral, to help reduce one’s uncertainty or stress” (Walther & Boyd, 2002, p. 154)

In a study of nursing students (Munich), participants reported that four supports: informational, instrumental, emotional, and affirmational, were essential for them to complete their online course. Social support is thereby nuanced. Beyond the role the educator plays in providing support, feedback, assessment, encouragement, the interplay between participants is also vital for developing relationships that can support resiliency in online learning. In this study, the informal discussion forum provided the most affirmative and and emotional support among the students.  These informal channels can be a way to develop a community of support and assist in resiliency when a student experiences stressor that impact their learning experience.  

Southwick, Steven M.; Charney, Dennis S. (2012-07-23). Resilience (p. 1). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.

Citation: Munich, K. (2014). Social support for online learning: Perspectives of nursing students. International Journal of E-Learning & Distance Education, 29(2), 1-12. Available online at:

Heading to the commons

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Can you see my feet? That's me on the left in the boots. My foots tapping a little because we're heading to the commons and I'm excited. There is something developing that bridges virtual education, global and local community. It's like a library but different, it has characteristics of a MOOC, it has a buzz of inquiry and intention. It's alive with critical thinking and caring.  In August, I start a graduate program in learning technologies and in searching around for a topic or area to study,  the commons keeps grabbing my attention. Creative Commons, Wikispaces, the Commons mall down the street, libraries, Starbucks, MOOC discussion boards, places where people hangout and share info. A virtual commons where members can share and learn together. I'm interested in the caring part of a virtual community and how educators and facilitators can create a culture of support through a virtual portal. Also, how resiliency plays into keeping people engaged in a virtual program, session, site, workshop.

Does a resilient mindset have a role in engagement in a virtual community? How can we develop a strong participation in the commons?  Is there a way to provide additional pedagogy to those who need a scaffold of extra support?   I'm wondering . . . .