Rose's Study Blog

August 14, 2009

What is an online community

Filed under: Uncategorized — rosannew @ 4:54 pm

The thing that I am struggling with here is why we are using 40 or so individual blogs to try and communicate with each other online?  It seems a very hard way to go about it.  Chris is putting together his pageflakes site so we can see everyone’s blogs in one space but why is the approach being used? I see a blog as something that is more like a reflective journal. I see it as a place where you feel like you have something important to say and so you do so in a blog. It is very strange that I am being forced to blog as part of a course. And the blog is part of an online community made of of many separate blogs. Or am I missing the point? Anyway, that grumble is now over……

On to my thoughts on building online communities

Steven Downes talks about the differences between groups and networks. He seems to be saying that networks are more about the personal learning experience.  He talks about  diversity, autonomy, openness and bridges that connect people online.  He obviously prefers an online networking approach to that of groups which he says are more linear and restricted.  His approach to networks sits nicely within a  constuctive and collaborative approach to learning and information. 

I really like the O’Reilly information on building online communities.  The information is laid out clearly and logically .  I think the most important thing I take from O’Reilly is that you have to have a reason for having an online presence.

O”Reilly says that you have to be very active to maintain a good online site.  You need to know why your site exists and you have to take active control over it. You can’t just expect users to come to your site, you have to attract them there. From my own experience I know that “Build it and they will come” does not work. You do have to attract users to any type of online course, network or community, just like offline. You can create the best course in the world, but if no-one knows about it, no-one will use it. I am interested in finding out how you duplicate the “marketing and sales” role in attracting people to your site.

I also found the concept of users taking ownership of your site really interesting. I suppose you could liken it to people following a celebrity of some sort. They almost take it personally if that celebrity shaves their hair or goes out with the wrong person. I can see how this could happen in a similar way on a successful blog site.

Finally as far as Mark Pesce goes, if a picture paints a thousand words then I wish that was what he had done. Just posted a picture. To me it was a self indulgent rant but Leigh obviously liked it so maybe I am missing the point. I just couldn’t get past the rhetoric. Maybe it is because I come from a writing background.

In conclusion I would say that the following are three ways in which you could determine whether an online community exists or not:

It is fresh. Whatever is happening is recent and current.

It is active. People are using it and interacting in it.

It is relevant. People have strong reasons to become involved in the community. They also take something from it, which means they keep  returning to the site as  long as it remains fresh, relevant and active.




  1. Hi Rose, have to say I have had a wee chuckle at your ‘moan’. I guess the answer to your question about the use of blogs isn’t so much an answer but more of a suggestion.

    Blogs can be used for many things, not just as a personal reflection…they can be used to impart information, generate conversation and as part of a personal learning network/environment. I see us using blogs in this context for for reasons. Firstly, to take the conversation we’re having to a wider audience so that anyone can drop in and add their comments. The more important reason (in my opinion) is that one of the tasks we give you is to learn about blogs and facilitating in an online blogging community so this is one way of learning that skill. For more information about blogging, I’d look at the 31 day blog challenge:

    Comment by Sarah Stewart — August 15, 2009 @ 1:05 pm | Reply

    • Hi Sarah,

      Yes well I thought I would say what I was feeling. I’m pretty new to the online networking thing and struggle with it a bit so I’m on a steep learning curve. It is quite hard to overcome that fear of posting things out for all to see. I’m a bit of a lurker. Having said that I’m here to learn and enjoy contributing so am finding all this really interesting. I’m going to look at the 31 day blog challenge, it looks pretty involved!


      Comment by rosannew — August 16, 2009 @ 11:06 am | Reply

  2. It is pretty involved so probably best to leave until after this course to look in depth….but a great activity none the less 🙂

    Comment by Sarah Stewart — August 27, 2009 @ 10:59 am | Reply

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