Purpose in Learning Communities
Why is it important for your community?
Importance of Purpose
Many people have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.
-- Helen Keller

"The great and glorious masterpiece of man is to know how to live to purpose."

-- Montaigne

Why is purpose so important?
Each community is designed around a purpose or shared vision. If each member realizes their personal goals are in sync with the goals or purpose of the community or their goals helped design the community goals, then each person will work to keep the community going. When there is no purpose, the community falls apart.

Purpose of Online Communities -- Questions you may want to ask:
  • Why set up an online space for your community?
  • Are there alternatives?
  • How will this community benefit the members?
  • Can you blend face-to-face time with online activities?
  • How do you motivate, engage, and hook the members to be active participants?
  • How can you overcome time and technical barriers so members  participate?
  • How have your members participated in determining purpose and goals?
  • How do you know when you have succeeded?

Online learning communities are more successful if they are set up to meet specific purposes such as: 

  • A place for families or friends to gather and communicate.
  • An online book club to extend monthly meetings or only online to share and review books and authors.
  • Meetups or mashups for informal connections around specific causes.
  • Planning and/or organizing any community group or sports team.
  • Building a team for work or school to strengthen the group relationships.
  • An online course that provides ongoing support.
  • Information sharing- a place to share files and ideas.
  • Game playing - just having fun!

By having a clear purpose that makes sense to you, the space owner, and the members, you can give yourself a head start in designing and running a successful online interaction space or community. For a more detailed checklist go to Nancy White’s checklist on Purpose.

Do you have an idea of purpose for an online community?