The Potential of Online Learning Communities
Online communities have arrived. We can say that because there is book now out Online Community Management for Dummies. When the Dummies book series produces a tome on a subject we can usually guarantee it has reached reached a large enough critical mass to perpetuate sales. If not the activity! It is a long way from buying a Dummies series book and creating the dream. I have a long standing book on my shelf Hobby Farming for Dummies, it will be awhile before it ever becomes a reality!
So there is a critical mass, of potential participants in Online Communities. Online Communities have been adopted by many large corporations. One blog that I have been following recently is Feverbee.com. Richard Millington the author has produced a number of posts that I have read with interest. I am primarily an agricultural research scientist by training, who teaches Science and ICT in school for an income. I am not a professionally trained marketeer. Insights such as Segmenting And Contacting Members Of Your Community which seeks to explain how to invite, integrate and establish members of community a useful. The application of psychology to create the community engagement rather than the Kevin Costnerism "build the field and they will come!" is a better use of time and resources. As I have commented before in A Google plus post and blog the edX and Coursera brands have been reported as having approximately 20% retention of students to the end of the course.
The social engagement aspect of the community is the difficult step. In a community of like minded people who are already converts to online communities building a lasting community is relatively easy as there is participation that is based upon mutual gain. The "evangelical" phase of building a community is what Haverhill Online Learning Community and UK Online Learning Communities have entered There are a lot of visitors and expressions of interest. "Converting" the interests expressed into adopters of the users of community is the next hurdle. Conversion rates of interest to join to fully fledged users using the Coursera and Edx example may be between 3 and 20%. This does pose an interesting question of how good a conversion rate do we get and what are the key factors in establishment. Essentially what makes the people want to join to the "gang"?
A few points to ponder there as I go off to consider my "rap" lyrics to make the community go past the "evangelical" phase and into the "consolidation" phase!