In the world of face-to-face college education, departmental community is easily identified. Walk into a department office on a brick and mortar campus and you quickly find department members (faculty, staff, students, and others) interacting. In the face-to-face world, community interaction is guaranteed outside the classroom. Even the most isolated face-to-face community members walk through a college campus to get to a classroom or an office, exposing them directly and indirectly to the interactions of other community members. Perhaps they see a student group promoting a cause at a folding table, or maybe they converse in the hallway as they wait for a classroom to become available.

Why Departmental Community

Research indicates that learning in a community has a positive effect on learning outcomes. Learning is a social activity, and individuals learn more from their interactions with others than from reading alone.

Communities with large amounts of interactive discourse are associated with deep learning. This discourse is not limited to ideas: Socio-emotional interaction and support have also been shown to be important in realizing positive educational outcomes. Strong community increases the willingness to share with and support others and thus increases the number of ideas that get shared.