Becoming a "communal architect" in the online classroom: Integrating cognitive and affective learning for maximum effect in web-based education


  • Robert Woods Spring Arbor University
  • Samuel Ebersole University of Southern Colorado


online learning, distance education, e-learning, distance learning, technology-enhanced learning, flexible learning, flexible delivery,


The authors discuss several online and offline community-building strategies that may be used to foster a positive social dynamic in online courses. Before presenting specific strategies, they begin by introducing readers to what they refer to as "communal scaffolding." The communal scaffold lets instructors conceptualize how affective and cognitive learning are inextricably intertwined in the online learning process. It also provides a theoretical base and sets pedagogical guidelines for fostering a supportive communication climate in the online setting. As presented herein, the communal scaffold is consistent with the assumptions embedded in climate theory (popular in community and social psychology literature), which assumes that psychosocial climates vary with different settings; climates are a product of environmental and individuals characteristics; and the relationships between climate, setting, and individuals are reciprocally influential (Pargament, et al., 1983).

Author Biographies

Robert Woods, Spring Arbor University

Assistant Professor of Communication

Samuel Ebersole, University of Southern Colorado

Professor and Instructional Development Specialist in Information Technology Services