Programs that are 100% online — and more exist now than ever before — can prove challenging. The face-to-face interaction deemed useful in the past do not exist. Instead, asynchronous learning makes use of online forum posts, back-and-forth emails/messaging, and discussion forums. Types of interactivity are drastically different, and, often, are not sufficient.
In much of the research, students report feelings of solitude and loneliness. The limited, immediate interactions provided in traditional classroom settings do not exist. Body language, facial expressions, and tone/pace/vocal cues do not exist in a forum discussion post or comment.
To help with this, a classmate and myself created a Facebook group (closed and private) to provide the more immediate feedback and support many students require. The group has well-defined rules, and members go through an approval process (a few school-related questions such as program of study and current classes being taken).
The group has proven to be beneficial, at least based on member posts and comments. I know I continually find it useful. It keeps me grounded, out of my own head, and provides that immediate feedback and support missing in the online learning environment.