Numerous researchers have pointed out that, in the context of Education, social interactions can have a meaningful impact in student motivation, persistency and learning outcomes.
In offline classrooms, just the fact of being in the same physical space facilitates personal interactions. If you don’t understand something you can just ask the person sitting next to you, rise your hand and ask your question during the lecture or approach the instructor at the end of the session. You also have more opportunities to comment the materials and assignments with your classmates, learn from each other and find encouragement to keep up with the workload.
In online courses, in contrast, since you cannot see your classmates or talk to them in person, it is easier to feel disconnected, not supported or even alone. E-learning platforms have tried to solve this problem by creating online communication spaces and tools to support and encourage students interactions: discussion forums, chats, profiles, blogs,…
But, how can you get to know your classmates when there are more than 100.000 students enrolled in the same course?