Virtual learning communities: success factors and challenges
by René Wegener; Jan Marco Leimeister
International Journal of Technology Enhanced Learning (IJTEL), Vol. 4, No. 5/6, 2012

Abstract: Despite their didactical potential many Virtual Learning Communities (VLCs) fail in enhancing learning outcomes. Therefore, we synthesise factors most critical for establishing a successful VLC. Applying a structured literature review, we searched for studies dealing with VLCs in the well known databases Business Source Premier, Science Direct and ERIC. We identified, classified and synthesised 64 relevant papers. Results indicate that critical success factors include a strong instructor that acts in different facilitation roles, face-to-face meetings that help establishing social ties and well structured small-group assignments that scaffold the learning process. Main challenges are a lack of common goals, feelings of inhibition and technical problems. Based on the review, we offer concrete advice for instructors building up VLCs. We suggest that future research should focus on the design of methods and tools for instructors to facilitate the learning process in a less resource demanding way.

Online publication date: Wed, 23-Jan-2013

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