ENGAGEMENT AND SENSE OF COMMUNITY IN A DISTANCE CIVIC ORIENTATION COURSE Design of a Communication Space for Newly Arrived Immigrants
Purpose: The purpose of this research is to a), through collaboration with end users, develop a communication space in a distance civic orientation course, and thus b) investigate what aspects that may be important to include in this space in order to facilitate the learners’ sense of community and thus possibly their engagement in that course. Theory: For this capstone project, the Design Thinking method and its human-centred approach is used as a framework to continuously relate the progression of the project back to the users and their needs. Method: The Design Thinking method was applied throughout this project as a framework for the progression of each step of the design. Interviews and questionnaires were used for data collection, as well as observations to some extent. Thematic analysis was applied for the data analysis. Continuous collaboration with the participants of the study led to an iterative process and an early prototype for the communication space was developed. Results: Results of this study indicate a need for implementation of both synchronous and asynchronous communication in the distance course, as well as the use of different media in the discussion forum in order to facilitate interactivity and thus enhance learner engagement. Early establishment of clear requirements of learners and teachers is important in regard to learner and teacher satisfaction rates. Generally, to include diverse ways of communicating seem to facilitate the development of a sense of community as well as learner engagement and active participation.