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Why Your Online Community May Need An Educational Program
How learning opportunities provide value to online communities
Online communities have become a crucial part of our daily lives — 76% of people participate in an online community. They offer us a platform to connect with like-minded individuals, exchange ideas, and grow together.
However, with so many options available, it’s imperative to have a clear and compelling reason for people to join and participate in your community.
How? By providing consistent value to the members of your community.
How does a community provide value?
Community members should have a reason to come back to your community. And the hard truth is — people will come back if they are gaining value from the community. This value can come in different forms, for example:
Facilitation of close relationships
Opportunities for self-improvement or skill development
Access to information they couldn’t get elsewhere
Facilitation of collaboration opportunities
Education and learning opportunities
There are many additional ways a community can provide value, but I’ve seen that education and learning opportunities are one of the best ways to provide value to a community.
First, we know that education and learning opportunities provide value on their own. In the open market, people pay with their money and time for education and learning experiences. From traditional to alternative education, we know that people value improving their skills and increasing their potential.
Online communities are positioned perfectly to bring high-quality educational experiences to their members because community and education are co-dependent.
Learning is best in a collaborative environment
Learning is a social activity. From grade school to university, traditional education has understood the importance of collaboration in a learning environment.
Learning science research has shown that learners have stronger academic, social, and psychological outcomes when learning in groups as compared to individualistic learning (as noted from this Harvard learning guide).
Traditional universities deeply understand the benefit of building a strong community within their walls.
This is where online communities come in.
Online communities are great at bringing like-minded people together in a collaborative environment. So, why not bring educational experiences to existing online communities?
The case for educational programs in communities
As I’ve laid out, communities should provide value to their members. Also, learning is a social activity.
This creates an opportunity to bring education to groups of like-minded people that are already hanging out together in online communities. Online communities should embrace the value-add activity of high-quality learning experiences.
A key way that these learning experiences will provide value to the community is their unique ability to strengthen relationships within the community. Through building Taptive, I’ve found that a learning experience is a strong community-building exercise because:
The shared struggle of learning and growing brings people together
When people are learning, they are more vulnerable and open to new perspectives
Especially when the learning experience is output driven and creative, it gives an opportunity for people to be more expressive and connect at a deeper level
In conclusion, online communities must bring consistent value to their members in order to remain relevant and appealing. There are many ways to bring value, but learning experiences map well to a community environment.
By providing valuable learning opportunities that double as a community growth/engagement tool, organizations can create a powerful and lasting impact on their members.
So, if you’re looking to build a strong online community, don’t overlook the importance of education and learning opportunities.