Building and Sustaining Community in an Online EdD Program




building online community, online community, EdD program, sense of community, connectedness



In this essay, we have described how we build and sustain community in our online EdD program. Initially, we discussed our understanding of community and its influence on our efforts. Then, we discussed three important theoretical frameworks—Wenger’s Community of Practice, Garrison et al.’s Community of Inquiry, and Morris and Stommel’s Critical Digital Pedagogy—and how those frameworks helped to shape our efforts in building and sustaining an online community. Next, we discussed strategies/processes that we have successfully used to build and sustain community in our online program.  These strategies were grouped around three kinds of relationships that have been central to community formation, interaction, and continuation—student-to-student, student-to-faculty, and student-to-broader-community. We discussed specific strategies such as the Leadership Challenge, Doctoral Research Conference, an online program “Hub,” comprehensive and immediate feedback, mentoring, and Leader Scholar Communities, that we have found to be particularly useful in building and sustaining an online community.     

Author Biographies

Ray R. Buss, Arizona State University

Dr. Ray Buss is Professor of Educational Psychology and Educational Research in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University. He teaches research and methodology courses and supervises doctoral students in the college's highly recognized EdD program in the Division of Educational Leadership and Innovation.

Professor Buss conducts research that focuses on doctoral students' development of identities as educational leaders and educational researchers; examines instructional issues and outcomes in the doctoral program including graduates' use of inquiry skills; and explores infusion of technology into the college's teacher preparation courses and its effects on technology integration by teacher candidates as they work toward conducting instruction in their classrooms. With respect to service, he serves on various college committees, maintains contacts with K-12 schools, and provides service to the profession. From 1992-2007, he served as graduate studies coordinator, graduate director, and assistant dean of the college.

Leigh Graves Wolf, Arizona State University

Leigh Graves Wolf is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at Arizona State University.  She is a teacher-scholar and her work centers around online education, K12 teacher professional development, and relationships mediated by and with technology. 


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How to Cite

Buss, R. R., & Wolf, L. G. (2021). Building and Sustaining Community in an Online EdD Program. Impacting Education: Journal on Transforming Professional Practice, 6(3), 47–53.



Themed - Online EdD