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Developing relationships - the key to fostering online professional communities

I am sure that online communities, and your participation in them, will not be the silver bullet for all lifelong learning and professional development needs. I am convinced, however, that they provide an important piece of the puzzle.

Also, not all online communities are equally effective in providing a space for people with common interests to creatively, robustly and respectfully, unpack some of the interesting challenges in their own practice and everyday lives.

There is, however, a growing range of useful guidelines, tips and strategies that might be useful to you if you are the community facilitator (for example, these 10 tips shared by Diana Ayling).Catriona Pene also shared what she describes as "an excellent reading on building online communities :D" (thanks, Catriona).

The byline of the article is "It’s time to bring proven social sciences into community management" (p. 1, source), and the article itself, after looking at some key aspects from a paper by Ren et al (2012), identifies key factors that help answer the question "how to people become friends, why is this so important?" (p. 1, source).

To access the full article, please click this link:


Ren, Y., Harper, FM, Drenner, S., Terveen.L, Kiesler, S., Ridel, J., and Kraut, R.E. (2012) Building member attachment in online communities: Applying theories of group identity and interpersonal bonds, MIS Quarterly 2012:


Learning Community Wordle. CC ( BT SA ) licensed Flickr image by Balboa Park Cultural Partnership:

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Comment by Tessa Gray on March 22, 2017 at 15:31

I love Feverbee it's my go-to resource for online community management/support. As Hazel says, there's no one silver bullet, but I've always loved these 50 community building a helpful guide on the side. Any other top tips?


Comment by Paul Keown on February 23, 2017 at 10:53

Thanks for this post Hazel. I have read the two articles you refer to. Both are very good. I see a lot of resonance between what these authors discuss and my own experiences. I think if we keep on sharing ideas and information we will end up with a pretty good idea of the key ingredients in strong and effective online communities. As you say there are a multitude of factors involved and circumstances differ from one situation/context and other situations/contexts.

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