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Learning community

What is an (online) learning community?

An online learning community is a great method to enhance engagement and knowledge retention throughout the learning process, by means of a collaborative learning approach. It consists of a group of learners that come together to enhance the value of knowledge by sharing it among the members, leading to a culture of learning which is a key-condition of development.

With learning communities, training becomes less formal in nature, as it occurs in a social setting that, as we have written right here, is beneficial to an active processing of information, in which learners give and take, expanding their professional knowledge base.

Why using a learning community?

There are multiple reasons for employing learning communities in the training approach, both for the employee development and for the business growth, by creating a continuous learning culture and a collaborative learning environment where acquiring new information is not necessarily a must, but a means for achieving objectives and developing solutions.

  • It encourages innovative thinking through collaborative learning and expertise sharing. In other words, people learn to find solutions together, by means of a collective brainstorming or they get inspired by each other in analysing an old issue from a new perspective.
  • It helps organisations develop new strategies through the experience, the insights and the perspective each member brings to the table (the collaborative learning space). In order for this to be effective, each one of them should bring something unique, so that the newly provided knowledge contributes to the common base of information. Thus, a learning community might consist of members from different departments of from employees with different professional backgrounds, for example.
  • It increases the knowledge retention rates because people actually engage in the learning process and engagement is a key condition of retention, while a collaborative learning environment fosters both of these. Moreover, employees must be active in their own development because otherwise, the learning culture loses its basis and employees cannot grow, professionally speaking, if they are not actually and actively invested in the learning process.

According to Reid Jennie, a senior director of human resources, it is highly important to understand who the people who will benefit from the learning community are, what they already know and how they can do their part in the learning process and also how they can benefit from such a learning community.

Basically, companies should value the employees' abilities and skills and turn them into learning resources for the other members of the teams, guiding by the principle that when knowledge is shared, its value is maximised. And that's what collaborative learning means.

A learning community is a method to put the human factor, with its value and knowledge, in the centre of a company, being the core which supports and sustains the professional development in a collaborative learning environment.

Some (final) thoughts

It can be created within a learning management system, using the communities of practice, which bring employees together with the aim of growing by shared knowledge and experience. You can try these communities of practice with your 14 days free trial on Knolyx.

This article is part of a bigger topic called: 

Communities of practice

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