Evaluating online learning communities

Fengfeng Ke, Christopher Hoadley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)487-510
Number of pages24
JournalEducational Technology Research and Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2009


  • Evaluation
  • Literature review
  • Online learning communities
  • Sensitivity analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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