In the training world we often hear “communities of practice” or “learning communities” touted as a more effective method of “just in time” learning and mentoring. Yet very few organizations have figured out how to successfully create one that will last. Outside of a few education focused ones like “edutopia” most seem to languish, with very sparse attendance or contributions. Instructional design has been no exception.

Amazingly, 15 years ago, before Facebook and Twitter, some visionary documentary filmmakers had figured out the formula. The “D-Word” is a thriving resource for this rapidly changing industry that should be a role model for anybody who wants to attempt such a community for their own field. I have used it as a sample of what best practices for those considering such an endeavor.

If you want to learn more click here for a short blog based on a paper I wrote in grad school. A key-takeaway is that, like almost any other training or educational endeavor, it will take time and money to make something effective and worthwhile. It is not just “build it and they will come”. There really aren’t any substitution for patient and continual attention by a “benevolent dictator ” (in the words of founder Doug Block).

The D-word is currently seeking funds for a major upgrade. I have no doubt that their members, even though they are for the most part struggling artists, will be happy to reciprocate for all that they have received from the D-Word. Learn all about it here: