The benefits of online communities for you and your children.

Virtual, or online, communities is a term that was first introduced with the inception of the Internet and refers quite simply to a group of people who make use of the internet to communicate around topics they have a shared interest in. Constance Elise Porter in a paper titled A Typology of Virtual Communities: A Multi-Disciplinary Foundation for Future Research refers to a virtual community as

“an aggregation of individuals or business partners who interact around a shared interest, where the interaction is at least partially supported and/or mediated by technology and guided by some protocols or norms.“

While the concept is nothing new, online communities have changed the way the world digests and receives information, communication, knowledge, power and much, much more.

John Green, author and novelist commonly known for his New York Times’ Best Seller The Fault in our Stars, is a public figure who is particularly interested in the benefits of online communities. In a recent Ted Talk titled Paper Towns and Why Learning is Awesome, Green looks closely at the concept of learning, virtually. In summary, Green unpacks the necessity of community to encourage learning. By looking at various educational communities such as schools and universities, Green expands on the value of engaging with various online platforms. Focusing primarily on educational communities such as CrashCourse and Youtube channels such as MinutePhysics and SmartEveryDay, Green encourages his audience to think about the possibilities and potentials of joining online communities as a step to broaden one’s own personal sphere of knowledge.

Listening to Green discussing these possibilities made me start thinking about the potentials that online communities have for children growing up in the 21st Century. The possibilities are mind-blowing, not only do kids have a world of knowledge and information at their finger tips but they have the option to join online “classrooms” that offer guidelines, help forums and learning aids which can only be beneficial to their learning process. A perfect example of this sort of community is offered by John Green and his brother Hank, called Crash Course. These brothers have worked to create online content covering topics that range from Economics, to Anatomy and Exploring the Universe. This knowledge is not only readily accessible to anyone with access to the internet but it encourages children to learn more about topics they find interesting and engaging.

Another advocate for online learning, Salman Kahn, is particularly interested in creating virtual content that can be used to encourage varying learning styles within a classroom setting. In his Ted Talk titled Let’s use video to reinvent education, Kahn refers specifically to an online portal featuring videos that aim to help children understand various math’s concepts. By creating this platform, Kahn has worked with teachers who have allowed their students to watch the online learning guidelines online as their “homework” in a comfortable environment and then do the actual work in the classroom where they can interact with the teachers and each other to create a “humanized” view of learning and applying knowledge.

At ParentsCorner, we believe that the digital world comes with a range of opportunities when used and managed appropriately. We want to encourage parents and families to engage with online communities from around the world in order to encourage a diversified way of learning and interacting with knowledge. By accessing and interacting within the right online spaces, your children have the potential to broaden their knowledge far beyond school walls.

Here are a few links to online communities that can be used for safe virtual learning and interaction: