“Online communities are really everywhere,” pointed out Todd Nilson of FeverBee during the recent HC3 Innovation Webinar on Online Communities of Practice. The Innovation Webinar Series highlights and examines cutting-edge applications of digital technology to advance global health. As the Head of Consultancy for FeverBee, Todd specializes in the planning and implementation of online communities and moderated the webinar.
Online communities, Todd explained, consist of a group of people who have developed relationships around a strong common interest, while communities of practice (CoPs) revolve around an important cause or very specific professional goal. CoPs are designed for practitioners by satisfying a particular unique need and providing a collaborative and safe space to ask questions and share insight.
Online CoPs are built upon an initial spark of interaction, through which people recognize and discuss a common situation. Over time, a sense of belonging begins to develop through self-disclosure, shared experiences and an emotional connection. “The most successful communities of practice,” Todd shared, “are well aware of what members already know, and tend to build conversations around the edges of that knowledge to expand it and bring in more members and further the profession.”