Online communities

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  • What are the strategies employed by different online communities to help members learn?
  • What motivates people to join these communities and participate in them?
  • Why is the main bit of content below about technology first? :-) A community is defined first by it's members and focus, and then enabled through the technology, no?
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Tip: To find out what you need to know about the assessments for Facilitating eLearning Communities, go to: Assessment detail

Types of communities

Synchronous and asynchronous

In this study "Comparative analysis of preservice teachers' reflective thinking in synchronous versus asynchronous online case discussions"[1]Robbins (2006) found that the group in the study commenced with a preference for asynchronous discussion and ended with a preference for synchronous discussion. Reasons given for a preference for synchronous discussion were immediacy of feedback and the pace of the discussion which was more conversational when discussion was synchronous. Those who preferred this type of communication also liked the time frame for discussion which was a fixed one hour session, rather than having to check back on the discussion board frequently. The few who preferred asynchronous discussion liked being able to participate whenever they had time and also being able to think through the issue before needing to respond. Robin's concludes that online discussion promoted reflection for these students, although both types of discussion were useful she found that the synchronous discussion promoted greater reflection on practical experience than asynchronous discussion.
During this course we have had the opportunity to participate in both synchronous and asynchronous discussion. There seems to be a place for both types of discussion however synchronous discussion seems to build a greater sense of community and identity for the group. Synchronous discussion has allowed us to identify similarities and differences in our shared experiences. Not all group members actively participate in either form of communication however in a face to face situation not all group members will actively participate either, some always prefer to sit, watch and listen rather than to actively participate.--Midwikied 11:57, 6 October 2007 (CEST)

Closed and open

    • Closed blogging group

Discussion forums

Email groups/forums

Blogs and RSS


Virtual Worlds


Social networking sites

Online gaming communities

Video sharing communities

Photo sharing communities

Slideshow sharing communities

Map and geocaching

Music sharing communities

Auction sites


  • Human interest helps people learn to work the technical aspects of the online environment subconsciously.

Group dynamics

Online learning communities share a lot of dynamics with other communities. A couple of classic short works to read here: