A challenge in providing definitive guidance about online communities of practice is the number of tensions that exist within them in many areas, as shown in Table 3, Community Tensions. There is no single blueprint or model for successful online communities—and there may never be. Successful communities can break the rules of thumb and still enjoy strong member allegiance, value, and growth.
Table 3. Community Tensions
Different qualities of communities can be important at different phases of development. Moreover, it’s likely that successful approaches will differ for different groups, such as front-line educators vs. professionals at higher levels of educational organization, elementary vs. secondary educators, and educators in different subject areas. The research literature on online communities is still relatively new and developing and still limited in scope. Much remains to be learned.