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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Articles of Note: Corgi Catches, Nov. 27, 2007

We dig through databases, online journals, an e-learning magazines for online learning articles of interest. In this series, we present a few articles that you might find useful, thought-provoking, or simply interesting. Instead of giving you only the citation, we'll give you more. We'll provide a brief overview and synopsis of the article.

We hope you find this to be helpful!

An article that caught the Corgi’s eye this week:

Herberger, J. A.; Murray, A.; Rioux, K. (2007). Examining information exchange and virtual communities: an emergent framework. Online Information Review Vol. 31 No. 2, 2007 pp. 135-147

This paper presents a new conceptual framework for examining virtual communities. The goal is to look at different ways of evaluating the communities, and to present a four-tiered pyramid approach.

The base of the pyramid consists of membership, and suggests that the primary motivator for individuals to join a virtual community is become members and to have their needs met by means of emotional connections. The second tier has to do with information networks, the third tier includes informational exchange, and the fourth has to do with the process of acquiring and sharing information.

In many ways, the conceptual framework presented in this article shares much with McMillan and Chavis’s (1986) analysis of traditional communities. McMillan & Chavis found the following basic building blocks of community: membership, influence, integration and fulfillment of needs, and shared emotional connections. Somewhere in the formation of a community, the boundaries and limits that define who belongs and does not belong are forged, and the attendant rights of membership are clarified. A community has certain attributes: safety, sense of belonging and identification, personal investment, and a common symbol system which includes community myths, symbols, rituals, rites, and ceremonies.

The authors conclude that people acquire and share information based on a mix of cognitive, affective, procedural and motivational needs. In conclusion, the emergent framework for evaluating virtual communities can be used in the following ways:

1. to help troubleshoot and diagnose problems with communications.

2. to quantify the importance in the community of satisfaction and dissatisfaction or other affective states.

3. to understand why and how information sharing in communities works, and what people perceive themselves to be doing (giving a gift? Showing they “fit” in the community?)

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