Sitting in a conference with a heavy load of gamification sessions. And one of the statements that struck me dealt with formal vs social spaces. In many of our courses we offer discussion boards for the sole purpose of encouraging community. But the reality is that the discussion board is in a very formal space. The instructor always has access to the board...so students will never really have true conversations. As working professionals, we also have this same type of environment (e.g., I would never send an email concerning my personal issues within my department...I would walk across the hall and talk to my trusted co-workers). I would maintain a very professional face in a formal space.
So in what way can trusted social spaces really be built within an online course? How can we allow students to express their thoughts with freedom? How can we create a space where students know that the instructor has no access?