The link above leads to a list of suggestions to help online students feel like they are part of an online community when taking an online course. Many students report feeling isolated when learning online. I especially like the idea of using group work to help minimize feelings of being isolated. Students can develop relationships with team members which may carry over to other work in the course. A good group project will force students to collaborate and consider other ideas. Of course, social loafers, who refuse to help with the group work will probably still experience a strong sense of being isolated.