Despite the increased number of institutions providing online learning programs, and more students choosing distance education, student retention remains one of the largest challenges in higher education. Attrition rates are 10% to 20% higher in online courses than their face-to-face counterparts. While online course formats offer convenient methods of instruction, poor course development often leads to high attrition rates. The purpose of this presentation is to discuss using of online social communities and richer media technologies, specifically Media Richness Theory (MRT) and Social Presence Theory, in online course design and instruction, and how they aid overall program retention and student satisfaction. This presentation should prove to be a resource for online instructors, instructional designers, and administrators.