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Spreading kindness in online learning environments

Spreading kindness in online learning environments

Wednesday this week is World Kindness Day, bringing a swathe of global initiatives and events aimed at promoting being nice to each other. People worldwide will be encouraged to go out and do something they wouldn’t usually do that will benefit somebody else, directly or indirectly.

Of course ideally every day should be World Kindness Day, but it seems we’ve got a way to go before we get to that level of enlightenment. Therefore any attempts to promote goodwill, generosity, magnanimity, altruism and benevolence are to be encouraged.

That is true in all sectors of society, but since this is, let’s take a look at some ways it’s possible to nurture kind-heartedness among learners – yes, even eLearners who may never actually meet each other. The benefits can come from unexpected quarters. For example, kindness activities can improve group cohesion and lead to better attendance and completion rates, which is good for course providers.

An example of good ‘digital citizenship’ among a group of learners could be to plan and launch an online campaign for a cause they can all agree upon. Whether it’s fundraising, awareness-raising or providing support, it can involve social media, blogs, crowdfunding, websites, hashtags and all the usual internet tactics. The idea that it is possible to do good from behind their keyboards can help to foster a positive group dynamic.

Get your learners to play Free Rice, a free game where they answer quiz questions to earn rice for hungry people.

Add a link to this cute short animated video to get learners in a frame of mind conducive to kindness.

Get them to submit their kindness pledges to this World Kindness Day website or its analogue in your own country.

Random acts of kindness that can be done within a group of online learners include:

Giving someone a compliment

Helping someone with an assignment (but not doing it for them!)

Reaching out to someone who is struggling in some way.

Complimenting the teacher or course creator!

Making a music playlist for another learner.

Sharing recipes.

Recommending good books.

Donating to another learner’s charity.

Swapping online gifts – this only works if learners know each other’s addresses, but digital vouchers work too!

Leaving positive comments on other learners’ online work, if the learning environment permits it.

Where there’s a will to be kind, there’s a way. Kindness is infectious and can spread quickly. It can also be the glue that holds online communities together, including MOOCs and other online learning environments with collaborative features. Start spreading kindness now!

Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash