Some institutions are creating online clubs to foster communication, comradery, and professional growth for online students; perhaps bridging the gap of social interaction and the virtual classroom. In a recent article, from Inside Higher Ed reports show over 70% of students who join these virtual social clubs do so for professional reasons.
Partially geared towards the adult student, online education is a convenient way to pursue training, increase skills, or choose a new career path. Coursework provides part of the puzzle while the networking of career advice, job opportunities and professional organizations could be the missing link. In this economy where more adults are being forced back to school, learning about new jobs or positions is a strong draw to these virtual organizations.
Online clubs are the springboard that leads to increased communications, feeling of belonging, accountability, and stronger connection to the school. This kind of social networking produces a community that, most notably, can improve retention at schools which is the key to growing an online program.