Here are some great resources for online communities:

designing-virtualLearning Communities are an important type of online community.  Chapter 2 – Online Learning Communities: Common Ground and Critical Differences in Designing Technical Environments by Margaret Riel and Linda Polin (2004) covers several types of online learning communities (shared with permission).

Situated Learning-Lave and Wenger

Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation is the original research on communities of practice by Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger from 1991.

Digital Habitats-Wenger, White, Smith

Digital Habitats is more recent research from Etienne Wenger, John Smith and Nancy White applying the theory of community of practice to online communities.

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Online Learning Circles are great for encouraging interaction and distributed leadership in online learning communities.

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Power Law Distribution



Power Laws, Weblogs and Inequality by Clay Shirky is Chapter 3 from Extreme Democracy.   This article explains how a small number of participants makes the bulk of the contributions in online communities.


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