I’ve been taking online classes at Regent University for just about three years and I graduate in May (!). As I’m wrapping up my very last class this session, I’ve been smiling as I’ve gotten to see that several classmates, with whom I’ve shared many interactions with, are in this last class. We’ve never meant in person but through all of the projects, discussion posts, phone calls, etc. that I’ve shared I’m having a very nostalgic feeling about my time as an online student and the relationships that I’ve created.
I write this to simply note that the online relationships that I’ve created are not the same as the ones that I share in real life but there is something unique to the setting that separates these from others. Perhaps it’s the context or the timing but it’s undeniable that there is a sense of connection formed with certain individuals that I’ve never met.
The bond is the shared experiences and leads to me to believe that where and how you connect with someone is not the important part that matters to relationships but rather it’s that you do connect and cohabitate with others in a similar setting that really matters.
This experience changes my opinion of online communities slightly – most importantly it gets me thinking about how each setting (whether online or offline) allows for different types of connection and communication.
How do you see online versus offline communities? To you, do they hold different value and benefits?