Evaluating online learning communities

  • Fengfeng KeEmail author
  • Christopher Hoadley
Research Article


This article reviews recent evaluation studies of online learning communities to provide a systematic understanding of how such communities are evaluated. Forty-two representative studies were selected and categorized into a newly developed taxonomy of online learning community evaluations. This taxonomy is divided into four components: evaluation purpose, evaluation approach, measures for evaluation, and evaluation techniques. The findings suggest that it is inappropriate to conceptualize evaluation of such communities as a one-size-fits-all, generalizable measure of “good” or “bad.” Instead, we recommend a comprehensive, on-going, diagnostic approach to measuring clusters of indicators, or syndromes, of a particular OLC and examining the causal relation assumed by the evaluators between what is measured and the success of OLC as an imputed outcome.


Online learning communities Evaluation Literature review Sensitivity analysis 


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Copyright information

© Association for Educational Communications and Technology 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Education, Organizational Learning and Instructional Technology ProgramUniversity of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA
  2. 2.Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human DevelopmentNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA

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