Resources and Tools for Evaluation of Online Communities of Practice

This brief discusses the purpose of, evaluation of, and advanced approaches of online communities of practice.

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Connected Educator
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Successful management of online communities of practice can be greatly informed by strategic and ongoing evaluation practices. The purpose and orientation of the community will determine which evaluation strategies would be most effective. This brief provides:

  • An overview of the purposes and goals of community evaluation
  • An overview of basic community evaluation approaches
  • An overview of advanced community evaluation approaches
What the experts say

The resource is a “must read” for leaders or facilitators of online communities of practice, including LINCS groups, or educators who are managing online communities. The resource could be used in multiple training sessions.  The resource stresses the importance of evaluating the functioning as well as the impact of the group on practice (and ultimately on student learning), and gives concrete suggestions regarding the type of measurements that are relevant and suggests a number of tools to take those measurements.  Research studies and theoretical background are provided in the annotated bibliography of print and online articles.   Useful concepts include first determining what is most important to the functioning of the group and measuring only those aspects in data collection, as well as partnering with researchers in analyzing data to provide useful information for both.

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