Online learning community
An online learning community is a public or private destination on the Internet that addresses the learning needs of its members by facilitating peer-to-peer learning. Through social networking and computer-mediated communication, or the use of datagogies while people work as a community to achieve a shared learning objective. Learning objectives may be proposed by the community owner or may arise out of discussions between participants that reflect personal interests. In an online learning community, people share knowledge via textual discussion (synchronous or asynchronous), audio, video, or other Internet-supported media. Blogs blend personal journaling with social networking to create environments with opportunities for reflection.
Much literature promotes online learning communities as environments conducive to communities of practice as described by Etienne Wenger. eTwinning is a European online community operated by European schoolnet comprising more than 50,000 registered teachers.
Categories of online learning communities
Types of online learning communities include e-learning communities (groups interact and connect solely via technology) and blended learning communities (groups utilize face-to-face meetings as well as online meetings). Based on Riel and Polin (2004), intentional online learning communities may be categorized as knowledge-based, practice-based, and task-based. Online learning communities may focus on personal aspects, process, or technology. They may use technology and tools in many categories:
- synchronous (such as instant messaging or language exchange websites and mobile applications
- asynchronous (such as message boards and Internet forums)
- blogs (such as Blogger)
- course management (such as Dokeos, eFront, Claroline, Moodle, Chamilo, Lectureshare or OpenLearning)
- collaborative (such as wikis)
- social networking (such as Del.icio.us and Flickr)
- social learning
- online university (such as University of the People)
- skills and language exchange platforms (such as eXlogue)
- Community language learning
- Community of practice
- Massive open online course
- Virtual education
- University of the People
- Barab, S.; Duffy, T. (2000). "From Practice Fields to Communities of Practice". D. Jonassen & S. Land (Eds.), Theoretical Foundations of Learning Environments. LEA (PDF).
- Bryant, S. L., Forte, A., & Bruckman, A. (2005). Becoming Wikipedian: transformation of participation in a collaborative online encyclopedia. Conference on Supporting Group Work. Proceedings of the 2005 international ACM SIGGROUP conference on Supporting group work, Florida.
- Hill, J., Raven A., (2000) ITFORUM PAPER #46 - Online Learning Communities: If You Build Them, Will They Stay? Posted on ITFORUM October 10, 2000 - http://it.coe.uga.edu/itforum/paper46/paper46.htm.
- Kaplan, S. (2002). Building Communities -- Strategies for Collaborative Learning, ASTD's Source for E-Learning - http://www.astd.org/LC/2002/0802_kaplan.htm
- Resta, P & LaFerriere, T. (2007). Technology in Support of Collaborative Learning, Educational Psychology Review, 19:65–83.
- Riel, M., & Polin, L. (2004). Online learning communities: Common ground and critical differences in designing technical environments. In Barab, R. Kling & J. Gray H. (Eds.), Designing for virtual communities in the service of learning (pp. 16–50). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Wenger, Etienne (1998). Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-66363-2.