Indicators of Community
In our evaluation of relational and transient communities on Cloudworks, our interest is in the
process of evolution from loosely tied webs or networks to the more cohesive productive
groups that can be seen to emerge from repeated and iterative collaborative activity that
happens within, across and between groups from more established Communities of Practice.
The indicators identified are those we believe promote this evolution i.e. the factors which
support the development of emerging Communities of Practice.
Community definition: “ a persistent, sustained [socio-technical] network of individuals who
share and develop an overlapping knowledge base, set of beliefs, values, history and
experiences focused on a common practice and/ or mutual enterprise” Barab, A., Kling, B., &
Gray, J.H., (2003) p. 23 (Italics in original)
Community Evaluation question Evaluation methodologies Success looks like...
Participation Did participants take on any special roles or duties Analysis of user activity over time. Sustained activity People learn through
(e.g. leader, conflict resolution, social facilitator)? and core groups identified on the basis of frequency participation (Tu and Corry,
• Sustained over time What was the hierarchical structure? Were these of posting and rate of response received to 2001; 2002)
• Commitment from a effective in promoting and supporting collaborative messages posted, or via text-based social net-work
core group of activity? analysis.(Herring, 2004, p. 356) Participation is sustained
participants Was there a core group of participants, who without encouragement from
• Emerging roles and contributed regularly? How far did a core group of Roles and hierarchy can be adduced through developers.
hierarchy participants encourage the engagement and activity participation patterns and speech analysis (e.g.,
of others? Herring & Nix, 1997, which considers the different Discussion and debate are
How far did participants make repeated acts performed by group leaders and non-leaders). vibrant. ‘Buzz’ (Gratton, 2007)
contributions? Did they continue to contribute into
the wider Cloudworks space? Commitment demonstrated
through repeated and sustained
interaction (Erickson, 1997)
Cohesion Were people polite and friendly to others? Was Observed verbal humour (Baym, 1995), jokes, People trust each other (Clifton,
there evidence of a willingness to listen and learn banter and playfulness. Sociality characterized by 1999) and have fun.
• Support and from others? combination of work and play (Wittel, 2001)
tolerance Were less confident participants encouraged to Support(Herring, 1994) and tolerance(Walzer 1997)
• Turn taking and participate further? Can this kind of behaviour be through speech act analysis focusing , for example,
response seen to impact on engagement? on acts of positive politeness openness, curiosity,
• Humour and Did participants take turns in discussions and and respect - a willingness to listen and learn
playfulness respond to each others’ comments? Reciprocity through analysis of turn initiation and
Did participants ask or answer questions of others? response (Rafaeli & Sudweeks, 1997)
Identity Did participants use similar vocabulary and Group self-awareness can be demonstrated in its People feel a sense of shared
phraseology? members’ references to the group as a group i.e. “us ownership for the community
• Group self- Was a similar tone and style used? verses them” language, particularly in statements and connection with others.
awareness Was the style and tone used inclusive or exclusive of such as, “We do things this way here” (implying an
• Shared language other groups? awareness that they might be done differently
and vocabulary When asked, did participants feel like they were elsewhere)
• Sense of part of a community? What factors made them feel Shared language Baym identifies 4 types of
Community this way? ‘consistent and distinctive language practices’ that
indicate the emergence of a coherent online
community: group specific vocabulary; forms of
non-verbal communication; genres; and humour
(Baym 2003, p1016)
A ‘sense of community’ can be captured in user
surveys and interviews. The concept is personal and
based on feelings and personal values and is likely to
be influenced by a range of factors which should
also be captured.
Creative capability Did visitors to the site understand the purpose of Igniting purpose - Areas of significantly higher Innovation is developed through
what they were doing? activity indicating flashpoints of interest and new combinations of ideas,
• Igniting purpose Did they feel drawn to participate and get involved? engagement (Gratton, 2001, Engestrom, 2007) knowledge and insights.
• Multiple points of Were multiple points of view expressed? Contradictions in terms of experience and
view expressed and Did people from different types of roles and knowledge. New meanings and
contradicted or workplaces contribute? Multiple points of view expressed and contradicted understandings are constructed
challenged Did people find participating engaging, interesting or challenged. Evidence of networks of relationships collaboratively
• Creation of and relevant to them? cross teams, disciplines, function and organisations.
knowledge links and Were links made between concepts and ideas? People find participation
patterns Did participants attempt to connect their knowledge exciting, interesting, fulfilling
and experience to that of others? and relevant to them.
Did participants challenge existing knowledge and
practices and work with others to conceive
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