How to make an online community come to life? I am seeking references to resources on this subject.

We know from experience it is not enough to set up the system or tool, be it a forum in an academic VLE, a cheesy social network, an online community for business, or a workplace group for sharing specialist knowledge. If the initiative is not to fall flat, users need to be attracted and enthused somehow, so that they engage in the community, become part of it and make it come to life and live on.

My own instinct would be to hire virtual cheerleaders to fire bubbly messages at each other, but that’s obviously not serious. So, I am earnestly looking for some received wisdom on dynamization of virtual learning environments, i.e. how to foster lively participation and do it successfully.

Many thanks.

Alec

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I've been pondering some of the same things, and wrote about community in the online classroom on my blog here:
http://librarianscommute.blogspot.com/2009/02/community-in-online-c... (not trying to toot my own horn or suggest this as a resource; just don't want to repeat myself here.)

And just yesterday a book I had ordered arrived: "Design for Community: The Art of Connecting Real People in Virtual Places" by Derek M. Powazek, copyright 2002. I'll let you know if it's helpful!

Since the blog post, my thinking hasn't developed substantially....except for coming to the realization that multiple log-ons are a barrier to usage...for example, I haven't logged into ning for a while because every time I think about it I imagine all the catching up I have to do, whereas if ning was more a part of my everyday routine I wouldn't feel such a disinclination to visit...I feel the same towards ALA Connect, which I joined weeks ago and haven't been back to since. I guess this is leading toward integrating all these networks, or the creation of a portal that allows me to check in with all my online social networks. I'm sure google will come up with something like that, if they haven't already.

Olivia

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