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What makes a good online learning community?

What features would an online learning environment need to have to make it as effective as possible?
What learning communities, if any, have you been a part of that have helped your learning process? What was it that helped you learn in that environment?
It would be great to hear about the learning environment and community with respect to both technical and pedagogical operations.

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    Sep 22 2012: Engaged Teachers.
    An interesting question or topic to be discussed.
    A civil community or a way to moderate out those who choose not to be civil.
    Good links to online resources.
    Avoiding contentious or controversial topics such as abortion, Gay rights or Evolution vs. Creationism.
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      Sep 22 2012: I think the interactive component Michael describes is of particular value. While some people are truly enamored of lecture formats (everyone hates it as a classroom format, but curiously many love it online), the most effective learning format (classroom or otherwise) involves discourse and, if possible, application.

      I don't think one needs to avoid controversial topics. Rather students need to learn how to learn together through discussion in the hope of everyone's reaching greater understanding, rather than approaching discussion as a scenario for identifying people as winners or losers.

      In othe words, a culture needs to be built that fosters fruitful interactions among learners. Depending on the material, that discourse may require guidance from teaching staff. In an online community of practice consisting of people with different experiences and skills, no teaching staff is necessary.
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    Sep 21 2012: free access - no cost for device or internet connection and use.
    • Sep 26 2012: Sounds good! I wonder if it will ever happen and to what degree.
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        Sep 26 2012: there needs to be a fundamental shift in a lot of attitudes before this becomes reality.

        education (at tertiary level) is about purchasing a ticket into a club (purchase in the widest sense of the word). academia can never replace real experience (obviously for some professions, it's essential prep)

        i think there is still a bit of a hangover from the days when "free" meant "inferior". eg i'm sure people will continue to be more impressed by a Harvard degree than an free, self-built degree for a little while longer.

        the major issue will be reliability of the information so people will need to constantly question everything they receive (only a good thing. we need more of this).

        having said that, we are now living in a time when "truth" is becoming less relevant and "what version do you prefer" is becoming the order of the day.

  • Sep 21 2012: Inspiring teachers
    Inspired students
    • Sep 26 2012: Hello Kevin,

      How much influence do you think an inspiring teacher can have in an online setting? Do you think it is as much as in a face-to-face scenario?
      • Sep 26 2012: Hi Amanda
        I guess it depends on the particular teacher and the particular student. One teacher may have more impact with face-to-face teaching, while one student may prefer learning online. And of course, the subject being taught and learned would also come into play.
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    Gail .

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    Sep 21 2012: I have learned much here.

    I am working on updating my math skills at Kahn Academy.

    Coursera is just taking off, and just added 17 new partner universities.

    edX is just taking off, so I'm waiting for it to improve.

    I think that you need a year or so to see what is going on. But you may be interested in this video:

    Online learning is starting to take off!
    • Sep 22 2012: Thanks for sharing the video. I just watched it and it was certainly worth the time.

      I am currently studying a Graduate Certificate in eLearning at University of New England, Australia. It is an online course. I am learning that, as you say, online learning is taking off and it's potential to change education is incredible.
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    Sep 21 2012: "What makes a GOOD online learning *COMMUNITY?"

    I believe the answer is in the question right there. Ultimately, it is the people in the community that determines if the community is good or not.

    So how can you attract and encourage/promote a good community? I believe that is dependent on the design of the environment and the content that the environment provides.