View Thread > How to build a learning community > Definition of a learning community > next time I'll check the suggested length first.
What is a learning community?
My response is based on my experience in business environments rather than at educational institutions. I have noticed certain characteristics in groups that respond to challenges by learning rather than resisting changes in the organization.
There is usually a personal history of learning as a means to overcome obstacles in the core group members. This history may have different roots (religious, scientific, social activism), but there always seems to be a background that favored knowledge and itís application as the primary means to initiate favorable change.
The group members join the group or community primarily to learn. This as a prime motivation seems to enliven the whole community. Discussion boards unfortunately often favor members who have evangelism and advocacy as a primary objective. This makes the board more of a learning resource for non-members lurking. The community members are often there only to present their opinions as opposed to learning from others.
My experience with mandated usage of company intranets has also reflected the necessity of "a desire to learn" in members for beneficial community development. Even in cases when the member feels compelled to join the community to stay current, the imperative to learn diminishes the process. Volition is a major part of the best learning communities.
Learning communities reward the providers of both the best information and the most fruitful questions. Ego is an inescapable part of the learning process. By supporting member egos in a beneficial manner communities can maintain a strong core of major contributors.
Trust among members is required for open contributions. Without a solid foundation of trust exploitation of the community will be avoided at an individual level through reserved responses to issues. This provides an ideal environment for the pundits to dominate discussions. Managing member participation through a set of principles that have been deemed fair by the community is a necessity in my opinion.
A means of acknowledging member participation that is consistent and fair will encourage participation and provide valuable feedback to members. Favoritism and behavioral anarchy will render the community unproductive for any member that does not thrive in that environment. There are people who thrive in those conditions. These conditions require regulation or the majority of members will fall into the background or desert the community.
I am very interested in how the H2O project will address these issues. This method of conducting online discussions is new to me. Viewing otherís responses immediately does provide useful feedback on the tone and length of responses expected in the community. The single post per round configuration of discussions does encourage well thought out responses. At least I hope this seems well thought out. Iím really looking forward to the next round in this thread.