I found an interesting article that states the importance of creating a "sense of place" for students that are taking online courses in order to better support and enhance the students quality of and experience of learning.
"Just as effective face-to-face teaching and learning, online learning and teaching benefit from purposeful curriculum design in which learning purposes, learning guidelines and appropriate resources and learning activities and interactions are structured in meaningful ways. Without such guidance, individual online learners can find themselves confused, misplaced and even frustrated in terms of their lack of place-ness. Agger-Gupta (2002, p. 144) describes these emerging issues and defines some of them as “self and identity” and “relational spaces”, which require analysis in the complex world of online learning. So, although the benefits offered by flexible, technologically-rich learning contexts often outweigh the problems associated with this type of virtual learning, the confusion and disorientation sometimes felt by students during online learning experiences is real and requires purposeful consideration by online course designers. "
I think that this discussion forum is a good example of a positive learning environment or "sense of place" designed to allow students to express themselves and add to each others learning humanizes us more.
By having these issues in mind when creating and taking an online course will better help promote a positive learning environment for the digital student