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This paper builds on action and design research aimed at enhancing scholarly community and conversation in a graduate school setting. In this paper we focus on knowledge sharing (KS) and trust as important factors for building a sustainable online learning community (OLC). Guided by theories of social learning and social networking, we survey graduate students to assess their perceptions of KS and trust in communities of practice (CoPs). These results are compared against posttest results measuring community building and knowledge sharing in a stakeholder-defined OLC. Results indicate that although students' initial assessment of KS and trust in CoPs were low, users perceived high levels of value from a stakeholder-defined OLC. Our research offers a proof-of-concept that stakeholder-defined OLCs provide students with the opportunity to develop knowledge networks, while also providing for individual autonomy over their content. Our results also indicate an intriguing alternative to traditional course management systems (CMS).