Promoting learning in communities is a multifaceted process that requires careful consideration of various factors, such as the learning environment, participants’ characteristics, learning goals, and facilitation strategies. During our discussions, we developed a mid-map to help us think about how to best promote and support learning within communities. We focused on three key areas: (i) partner quality, (ii) task design, and (iii) clear benefits. However, before reflecting on these areas, it is important to understand what we mean by learning in communities and how to create a conducive learning environment.

Learning in communities refers to a social setting in which participants interact and collaborate to share and benefit from available experiences in their group, team, or community. It can occur in various contexts, such as workplaces, schools, online forums, and social groups. The goal of learning in communities is typically to enhance individuals’ knowledge, skills, and capabilities, as well as foster a sense of social connectedness and mutual support. However, not all social learning opportunities are conducive to learning. Learning depends on several factors, including partner quality, task design, and clear benefits. In our discussions, we critically evaluated these factors to understand how they interrelate and impact community learning.

Partner quality is crucial as it can impact task design and clear benefits. High-quality partners can provide the necessary support and expertise to carry out complex tasks and offer constructive feedback to improve the quality of task design. When partners in a community have a shared sense of commitment and engagement, they are more likely to derive clear benefits, such as improved knowledge and skills, social connections, and motivation to learn. Similarly, task design can impact partner quality and clear benefits. Well-designed learning tasks can lead to higher levels of engagement and commitment among community members. This, in turn, can lead to better quality partners in the community and improve task design, leading to clearer benefits for all involved.

Finally, clear benefits can motivate community members to actively participate in the learning process and provide high-quality feedback and support to their partners. When community members derive clear benefits from their participation, they are more likely to remain engaged and committed, leading to better partner quality and task design.

Overall, partner quality, task design, and clear benefits are interrelated factors that influence community learning in complex ways. Creating a positive feedback loop where these factors reinforce and support each other can lead to a virtuous cycle of learning and improvement within the community.

Learning in and through communities