Rotating photos of students (with names) in program on home page are used to reinforce and sustain a sense of community.
So far our evidence has been anecdotal only. Students tell us that when they see the picture, they say "Hi, Jane--or John, etc.". Sometimes their families ask who they are talking to! We survey students annually about the program, but haven't asked about that feature although we certainly could.
student satisfaction: At the University of Arizona College of Nursing Online PhD Program, we take photos of students during their first orientation session; we then post the photos on the PhD Portal so that after students log in, they see a one of their peers (the pictures cycle so that a different picture is shown each time the student returns to the home page). It's a simple way of keeping faces together with names.
Minimal--requires someone with a digital camera and a web programmer to set up and maintain the initial rotating photo file.