Following on from last month's blog post, using her experience as a Mental Health Adviser for the University of Sunderland, UMHAN member Ashley Cave shares her thoughts on positive digital communities.
Positive Digital Communities
We only need to reflect on the past few years to see how supportive and helpful a digital community can be. Positive digital communities are directly linked to students' experiences of university and how they navigate their day to day lives as students. Not only do they impact wellbeing but also their sense of belonging and emotional wellbeing.
Digital communities offer students a safe place that encourages online togetherness and support. Research has indicated that particular groups of students may be more vulnerable to feeling a disconnect from their higher education establishment. This includes mature students, distant learning students, placement students and commuter students.
How can staff use it?
A scoping tool has been developed, intended to be used in teams which will inform a collective decision on what format and intention is behind a digital community.
There is guidance which looks in more detail at different group of students as mentioned above and explores the pros and cons of digital platforms to consider.