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What makes an online community?

Tessa Gray

What are you? A Blues or Hurricanes fan? A Mac or PC user? Prefer a Holden or a Ford? Having a discussion (or even argument) around important things that really matter to us is nothing new.  I'm currently (enjoying) working my way through an online course, learning more about, online communities and what makes us come together.

As shared in a previous blog, What’s the difference between a social network and an online community? an online community is a group of people who develop relationships around strong common interests. This group commonly crosses boundaries to come together (age, interest, abilities, needs) where relationships become incredibly important, as we turns an audience (viewership, lurkers, likes) into a community (interactive).

Online engagement

It starts with strong common interests, then an interaction or spark is created, community members (us) are invited to disclose some information about themselves (experiences, facts, emotions) which in-turn creates an emotional connection where relationships will start to develop. Without interaction, we are just building an audience. Strong common interests is what is going to drive our community, ie: what do they want to spend our free time talking about?  

Some people like to talk about lifestyle products, hobbies and what they spend their time on, emotional reaction to causes, sport teams, events etc or what identifies us - from brands to job/work related conversations. Some people like to argue Ford vs Holden, others...Mac vs PC.

Ford vs Holden

What is our strong common interest in edSpace?

I see our community growing when people are joining as part of a course/event, project or programme and some even arriving after a notification, nudge or a shoulder-tap. I think we can come together to talk all things education, to share experiences and help each other in our mahi.

What do you think our strong common interests are?

Tessa Gray

Tessa Gray

Ko Tessa Gray toku ingoa, edSpace online facilitator. Passionate about growing thriving online communities. Based in the sunny Bay of Plenty.
    • Tessa Gray
      Tessa Gray

      Just continuing on from this mahi, with some further clarification around types of online communities. There are five different types of communities:

      1. Action: Community members coming together wanting to change the world
      2. Circumstances: When you're put into a situation, sometimes not by choice.
      3. Interest: Shared hobbies where community members are genuinely curious
      4. Place: Where community members live in a specific address or located in a specific geographical area
      5. Practice - typically made up of people who are doing the same activities as one another and have built up a domain of knowledge or expertise. ie all the same job or same hobbies

      How of these communities do you belong to? What makes these forums work for you?

      While we would readily recognise edSpace is our community of practice (we're all in the same industry and share the same jobs), we could also turn this into our hybrid community - a mixture practice and action. ie: edSpace offers an online space for passionate educators can talk about our mahi as well as reflect on things (way we think/act) that make a difference in education for our tamariki. We can do this freely amongst ourselves within a safe, open environment.


      Practice and action


      What would you like to see more of, so that edSpace works as an community of practice and action for you? Feel free to comment below.

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