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.
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:
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