Value Creation in Online Communities for Educators

The popularity and pervasiveness of online communities have led researchers and practitioners alike to closely examine the utility of online communities for supporting and facilitating professional learning. As economic constraints leave fewer resources available for professional development, educators in particular are examining the potential of online communities to enhance and extend traditional professional development opportunities. Leveraging the potential of online communities requires an in-depth understanding of the value that members find through their participation. This study used Wenger, Trayner and de Laat’s value creation framework to better understand cycles of value creation in online communities. Findings illuminate how members with varying perspectives and levels of expertise co-construct new forms of meaning and understanding in ways that are individually and collectively valuable, and how they apply that knowledge to their professional practice. Additionally, the study offers insight into the ways in which actions of community leaders and a sponsoring organization support and facilitate value creation through different types of activities, tools and interactions.

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