To be successful, an online learning community must truly engage its learners by providing an environment in which knowledge can be transferred and high quality learning offered, as well as creating a real sense of community collaboration.
Here’s what we believe are the five top steps you need to take to make your learning community a success.
1. Identify your learning domain
Your learning domain, and its areas of focus, needs to be clearly defined. Make sure that your community’s members both share and understand its goals.
2. Content is king
User interfaces are important, but, quality, engaging learning is driven, more than anything, by quality content. Provide your learners with the best content you can as a matter of priority.
3. Choose the right technology
There are many and plentiful technology choices for supporting online communities, ranging from simple discussion boards to complex, comprehensive platforms. Those choices supporting the following are the best-equipped to encourage vibrant, successful communities:
- Multiple media: text, images, interactive images, audio, video, animations and assessments
- Synchronous communication: chat and voice and instant messaging
- Presence awareness: allows you to know who else is online so you can interact with them if desired or needed
- File sharing: gives users the abilities to upload and share files, share ideas in real time and work together on reviewing or annotating documents or whiteboards
4. Set policies and procedures
5. Feedback and more feedback
Encourage community members to share feedback of their learning experience so that you can monitor the effectiveness of your learning content and of the community as a whole. Assessments and surveys and community specific rating schemes will all encourage more feedback.
A successful online learning community is one in which members are encouraged to be active participants, sharing knowledge and experience with the goal of helping each other. Your aim is to make this easier for community members by building a community that is friendly, active, open and easy to use as well as providing an enjoyable, accessible and memorable learning experience.
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