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What Is A Learning Community? Our 2024 Guide

A learning community is a group of people who come together with similar goals to support each other on a learning journey.

By Mighty Team

January 29, 2024

5 min read




    What is a learning community?

    A learning community is a group of people who come together with a shared purpose and similar goals, and support each other on a learning journey. They may learn separately or collaborate, but the community forms the context for their learning. There are all sorts of learning communities, from structured programs given by educational institutions (e.g. a classroom) to loose gatherings of friends working to master something interesting together.

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    Here are some of the things a learning community needs in order to work well:

    • Shared goals: Not every member needs identical goals, but they should be similar enough that it makes sense to learn together and support each other.

    • Encouraging environment: A learning community only works in an environment where people feel safe and heard. (Clear community guidelines can help with this.)

    • Structure: There are different formats a learning community can take: be it a classroom, a mastermind, group coaching, or an online cohort course. And within these, come all sorts of possible activities: discussions, lessons, lectures, workshops, shared projects, and more. A learning community needs an intentional structure that the participants know about.

    • Leaders: Community leaders take many different forms: teachers, coaches, facilitators, or an organizer among peers (e.g. in a mastermind group). But most communities have at least one Host to shepherd the process.

    All of these things can be summed up in one concept: your community needs a Big Purpose. A Big Purpose states the types of people in a community, the shared goals, and the activities you do together.

    It looks like this:

    Big Purpose- New Image

    Online learning community

    An online learning community is when members come together virtually on a community platform to learn. Many learning communities are online these days, since online platforms let people create learning networks around the globe.

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    Advantages of a learning community

    • Collaborative learning: Learning with others changes the dynamic of your learning, and gives you opportunities to work together and help each other. In one study, 80% of learning design experts for the workplace said that collaborative learning is essential.

    • Motivation: Self-motivation in learning can be tough, but it’s also critical–especially for online learning. A learning community fixes this with fellow learners–leading to more enthusiasm and more accountability.

    • Diverse perspectives: A learning community has people from different backgrounds. Even if they’re similar, they have unique perspectives and experiences–which enriches learning.

    • Learn by communicating: Learning by reading or watching is okay, but learning through dialogue can open up new breakthroughs for some learners.

    • Networking: In many cases, a learning community provides valuable networking too. Meeting people with shared interests can open up opportunities beyond a course.

    • Personalized support: A host and fellow members can adapt to the needs of each learner and help each other out.

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    Advantages of an online learning community

    While each of the above benefits apply to online learning communities, there are a few more benefits that are unique:

    • Find members with shared interests around the globe.

    • Online makes even the most niche communities possible.

    • Distributed and asynchronous learning means total flexibility for the learning community.

    • Modern community platforms make it easy to get started and grow.

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    Risks to a healthy learning community

    Learning communities are wonderful when they work right. But there are some things to be careful of. Here are some things to watch for to make sure your learning community is a success.

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    • Bullying & intimidation: There’s nothing worse than a community where people feel bullied or intimidated–these will flop pretty quick. Especially if it’s an online learning community people are choosing to be in. Fix it with clear community guidelines, and make sure you’re practicing good moderation techniques.

    • Monopolizing: Any community will have supermembers in it, people who bring most of the energy and participation. And that’s okay–even normal! But if certain members monopolize live conversations, it hurts others’ learning. Make sure to find ways to get everyone involved.

    • Unclear focus: No community can thrive with unclear goals and focus. It’s why setting the Big Purpose is one of the most important steps.

    • Lack of motivation: Learning communities work best when the members have intrinsic motivation. It’s why communities of adult learners working skills they’re excited about often thrive while high school teachers struggle to get online collaboration for blended learning.

    • Poor communication: Poor communication from the Host of the learning community threatens its success.

    • Technology challenges: An online learning platform may be the most important partner in learning communities that are hosted, either in whole or part, online. It needs to be streamlined, easy to access, and intuitive. If a course is hosted online, it needs a good online course platform.

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    Learning community examples

    • Octo Members: Provides UK-based financial services professionals with resources for personal and professional growth–especially for keeping abreast of changes in the field.

    • The Journey of Intrinsic Health: An eight-week program for members to transform the way they think about health, mixing a flagship course, a supportive community, the option of personalized 1:1 or group coaching, and livestreaming virtual events.

    • The Willing Equine Community: Teaches horse lovers tools for training their horses holistically. It brings together a course with discussions, Q&As, and a virtual community.

    • The eXd Community: Empowers educators to create transformative, equity-centered schools and organizations. It offers a learning community that mixes self-paced learning with a guided, hands-on course: Design Achievement at the Margins.

    • Academy to Innovate HR: A paid online learning community that gives HR professionals the tools to expand their skill set and boost their careers.

    • Beyond Type 1 & Beyond Type 2: Private, public community for people impacted by diabetes for asking questions, sharing successes, and venting in a safe and respectful space.

    Ready to start a learning community?

    If you’re looking for a place to start a learning community, come build with Mighty Networks. Our community platform hosts live and pre-recorded courses, mixing them with discussions, livestreaming, member profiles, chat & messaging, and live events. And our community AI Mighty Co-Host™ helps you engage members without replacing human creativity, and Mighty comes with an awesome app for every device.

    For paid communities, you can charge in 135 different currencies, create bundles of courses, communities, events, and private groups, and build a recurring revenue business around your learning community.

    Ready to start a learning community?

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