One of the many special features that Netvibes has to offer is the ability to create online communities within the application. Now for those of you who do not know what online communities are: they are groups of people that interact for social, professional, educational, or other purposes, but instead of interacting face-to-face, they interact by means of media (such as telephone, e-mail, social networks, etc.) . Online communities are internet-based, and they give people the chance to gather together in a shared online space, communicate, and connect to each other without being physically in the same place. Online communities offer the opportunity to do many things, and are available in different forms (such as chat rooms, discussion boards, and forums). So, basically an online community is what the members decide to make out of it .
A typical question about online communities is, "What is the purpose?", and this is very easily answered. First of all, online communities allow people to socialize with other people in ways that might not be possible on a daily basis. Activities such as meeting new people, sharing stories, and exchanging opinions are very common for online communities. Another purpose is to distribute ideas and information easily with people who are already well-informed about a topic. These types of online communities are usually based around discussion boards, with people from all around the world. The most important feature for our purpose, though, is the fact that online communities allow people to work together without actually being together. Work groups within companies and even between companies use online communities to build their team, keep in touch, and even work on projects together . This can be very valuable in a work setting such as schools or other educational places. Teachers have the ability of sharing information with other teachers, or sharing how to handle certain situations that might occur in the classroom. School supervisors have the ability to exchange information about school issues. Parents even have the ability to voice their opinion more freely, and to be more involved with their child's academic progress. The use of online communities in school settings offers an endless possibility of advantages for everyone involved.
Netvibes provides the opportunity of having your very own, custom-made, start-up page, but it also makes it easy to create online communities such as the ones described above. Educationally, online communities are seldom used and Netvibes is practically non-existent. So, the combination of the two is unheard of until now. The possibilities are endless, though, with interaction between students, teachers, supervisors, and even experts in certain areas of study. All or even pairs of the two can be brought together (through Netvibes) to provide interactive ways of learning. Online communities benefit everyone involved!