Steps for Setting Up and Running an Online Learning Community

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online learning community

This post covers the six most important steps for establishing and running an influential online learning community. Regardless of which community platform you are using the steps we cover will be the same.


1. Determine the Purpose and Goals of the Community

Before building your community, you need to determine its purpose and goals. Are you looking to enhance student engagement, foster collaboration and knowledge sharing, or create a sense of belonging among learners? Clearly defining the purpose and goals of your community will help you create content, activities, and challenges that align with your objectives. Ultimately, the purpose and goals of an online learning community will depend on the needs and interests of the students, as well as the overall objectives of the course or program. It's essential to have a clear understanding of these goals before building the community to ensure that it meets the needs of everyone involved.

Types of Goals

  1. Providing ongoing support and resources to students beyond the course materials.
  2. Encouraging students to take an active role in their own learning and development.
  3. Creating opportunities for networking and career development.
  4. Generating enthusiasm and excitement about the course or subject matter.
  5. Encouraging critical thinking and problem-solving skills among students.
  6. Providing a platform for feedback and constructive criticism from peers and instructors.
  7. Fostering a culture of inclusivity and diversity where everyone's voices and perspectives are valued.
  8. Promoting accountability and responsibility among students for their own learning outcomes.
  9. Encouraging creativity and innovation through collaborative projects and activities.
  10. Building a sense of community and shared identity among learners, regardless of their location or background.


2. Choose the Right Platform

Many platforms are available for creating online communities, such as social media platforms, discussion forums, and learning management systems (LMS). Choose a platform that fits your needs and budget and is easy to use and navigate.

Here are ten online community platforms that you could use to create an online learning community:

  1. Facebook Groups
  2. LinkedIn Groups
  3. Slack
  4. Discord
  5. Moodle
  6. Blackboard Collaborate
  7. Google Classroom
  8. Edmodo
  9. Canvas
  10. Kajabi


Obviously, each of these platforms has its own features and benefits, so it's important to choose the one that best suits your needs and the needs of your students. Some are more focused on discussion and collaboration, while others are geared towards organizing and managing course materials. It's also important to consider factors such as ease of use, cost, and accessibility when choosing an online community platform.

3. Set Up the Community

Once you have chosen a platform, set up your community by creating a profile, setting up discussion forums, and adding content and resources. You may also want to establish guidelines for participation and behaviour to ensure a positive and respectful learning environment.

Here are some tips for creating online community guidelines:

  1. Be clear and concise: Your guidelines should be easy to understand and provide clear expectations for behaviour within the community.

  2. Be inclusive: Create a welcoming environment that is respectful of all members, regardless of their background, experience, or beliefs.

  3. Encourage positive behaviour: Outline the types of behaviour that are encouraged within the community, such as sharing knowledge, providing constructive feedback, and supporting others.

  4. Prohibit negative behaviour: Clearly outline the types of behaviour that are not allowed within the community, such as bullying, hate speech, or spamming.

  5. Be consistent: Apply your guidelines consistently and fairly to all community members, regardless of their status or position.

  6. Enforce consequences: Outline the consequences for violating the guidelines, such as a warning, temporary suspension, or permanent removal from the community.

  7. Encourage feedback: Encourage members to provide feedback on the guidelines and the community culture and be willing to make adjustments as necessary.

  8. Stay up-to-date: Regularly review and update your guidelines so they remain relevant and practical.

Following these tips can create a safe, positive, and productive online community that supports learning and collaboration. And one last point, tailor your guidelines to your community and the type of culture you are trying to foster. Every brand has its own unique personality, and your community guidelines should consider this.


4. Promote the Community

Promote your community through social media, email marketing, and other channels to attract learners and encourage participation. Consider offering incentives or rewards for participation, such as badges or certificates. Promoting your course community through appropriate channels can attract and engage more students and create a vibrant, active community that supports learning and collaboration.

Here are some easy ways to promote your community to others:

  • Send email invitations: Send personalized email invitations to students who have registered for your course, inviting them to join the community.

  • Promote on social media: Use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram to promote your course community and encourage students to join.

  • Leverage word-of-mouth: Encourage your existing community members to invite their friends, colleagues, and classmates to join the community.

  • Offer incentives: Offer incentives such as exclusive access to course materials or discounts on future courses for students who join the community.

  • Create engaging content: Create engaging content that encourages community members to participate and share their knowledge and experiences with others. This could include discussion prompts, polls, quizzes, or challenges related to the course content.



5. Foster Engagement and Participation

Encourage learners to participate in the community by creating interactive and engaging content, such as quizzes, polls, and challenges. Encourage learners to share their knowledge and experiences with each other and provide opportunities for feedback and discussion. See this post on how to use challenges and leaderboards.


6. Monitor and Evaluate the Community

Monitor the community to ensure it functions effectively and that learners participate and engage with each other. Evaluate the success of your community by tracking metrics such as participation rates, engagement levels, and learner satisfaction.

Following these steps, you can create and run an online learning community that enhances engagement, fosters collaboration, and promotes learning outcomes.


Ready to enhance your online course experience and create a supportive learning community?

Start by defining your community goals and guidelines, and then explore the many platforms available to build and grow your community. One of the easiest to get started with is Kajabi's. Use this link and get a 30-day free trial and see the benefits for yourself!

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