Over on the TechLearn blog Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach has made another post titled The Art Of Building Virtual Communities that has generated a lot of lively discussion and feedback. This is a follow-on from her previous post on Virtual communities as a canvas of educational reformSheryl states:
The burning question for many of us trying to establish educational CoPs is how to design a VLC that is compelling enough that it will compete successfully for the attention of busy educators? Because communities of practice are voluntary, to be successful over time they need the ability to generate enough excitement, relevance, and value to attract and engage members. This is easier said than done.
Her article contains several models that attempt to describe the nature of participation in online communities (including one of mine :-)) and ends with a thoughtful list from Sheryl of things that comprise a healthy community.
Of most interest to me, however, is the discussion that has ensued. Sheryl is criticised in an early post for missing out on the ‘angsty’ side of community development – with another writer suggesting the development of “toxic” communities. Aside from the content of these responses, the number and quality of contributions in response to the original post make this a useful example of a healthy community in my opinion!