"Culture is the sum of behaviors you tolerate and reward over time." – Wes Kao
You're always creating a culture within your online course if you want it or not.
Now, why should you bother actively working on your culture?
Because online courses should be an inclusive, safe learning environment for everyone.
We don't learn when we don't feel safe and supported.
To make progress, your students need to be slightly outside their comfort zone.
But they can only get there when they don't fear being judged or ridiculed for making mistakes and asking questions. And when they can be open to receiving constructive feedback from each other.
Here are 4 ideas for you:
In your kick-off session, spell out what kind of environment you want to create, what's acceptable, and what is not acceptable.
This way, you're not leaving it up to the students to decide how to behave in the community.
Start each session by giving shoutouts to people who have contributed in a positive way to the community. For example, by giving great feedback or lifting someone else up.
This is never easy, but it's best to address destructive behavior asap. You can speak to the student in private and remind everyone publicly of the ground rules.
Throughout the course, your students look up to you. So when you exemplify the right behaviors, you're making it easier for everyone to follow.
What other ways to create culture do you know and use? Let me know!