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Online learning communities are growing – and it’s not all that surprising. But why are they becoming so popular?

Here, we look at what community learning is and how it can truly help your learners grow.


What is community learning?

In an online context, community learning is where people explore, debate, advise and learn together and from each other, about any subject in which they have a common interest.

Community learning can take place in any number of different ways, from informal tagged discussions on social platforms, to more structured private forums within an online learning environment focused on a particular topic.

For reasons such as you’re struggling with a specific module, or want to gain a sense of belonging within your field of study, all you need to do is head online and seek support and connection from those in the same boat.


Why are more people using community learning today?

In a world where more and more of us prefer the convenience and flexibility of studying online and seek out the latest and most engaging methods to learn from to grow our skills, we’re spending less time in real-life classrooms.

But we’re also communicating online more than ever. So it’s only natural for the two to come together.

That’s the first reason then – using our natural affinity for communicating online to fill the gaps left by a reduction in classroom-based human interaction. However, it’s important to note that learning is actually a much more social process than we think.

Traditionally, we learn via a teacher–student relationship, taking lessons from those who are more competent in a particular skill than us and using their knowledge to grow our own abilities through things like listening and reading (and if you’re a good student, taking notes).

Today, we can gain that knowledge from many different sources and formats (including video, gamification, online articles, etc.) making that traditional method less important. Yet we still crave that sense of belonging and validation from other humans when we’re struggling – as well as a helping hand.

While the internet undoubtedly offers a wealth of information, sometimes finding an answer to a question isn’t clear cut, and it can be quicker and clearer to simply ask someone with more experience than yourself who’s potentially been through it before. In these situations, a peer will often add additional context, knowledge and opinion, increasing the value of that interaction in ways you couldn’t achieve as easily through research.


How can community learning benefit learners?

Community learning has so much to offer students and can greatly enhance their online learning experience, helping them to stay engaged in their studies. It doesn’t end there, however. There are many more benefits of community learning:

  • Innovation – Community forums give people the chance to ask questions that may never have been asked before or share new theories that can help shape fields of understanding in ways we never expected.
  • Knowledge sharing – Some people may have more experience in certain subjects than others, making them great portals of knowledge for those who are still at the beginning of their journey. It’s also a great way to tap into practical knowledge that may otherwise fly under the radar.
  • Support – Sometimes, people just need a little support, which can easily be found in online learning communities, particularly if others are also facing the same challenges. It helps to create a sense of belonging for people who don’t necessarily have a strong support network around them, or at least one that understands their learning needs.
  • Motivation – Finally, online communities can help foster motivation by getting learners fired up about what they’re studying, pushing engagement, and even helping them to build relationships with others in their field or business.


Building your community learning experience with Thirst

Here at Thirst, we recognise how connecting learners and building communities can strengthen and broaden the bounds of study.

That’s why we’ve made community learning an integral part of our platform. Thirst is specifically geared up for learners to connect, engage and push each other, in a safe, supportive online environment. Learning has never been so social!

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