Initial Publication Date: November 29, 2012

Developing and Sustaining Communities
across NSDL


NSDL has created and sustained several communities organized around STEM education that are primarily advanced through Internet technologies. However, the NSDL community learned that face-to-face and other forms of personal communication were critical to support the effort. Most members of the developer communities have extensive experience in scientific and educational associations and bring the traditions and cultures of those organizations with them. NSDL also attracted a large population of users who expressed interest in learning about and often actively engaging in STEM activities.

Lessons Learned

  • Large projects such as NSDL need to anticipate and provide support to multiple communities organized around their functional needs.
  • Communities in large projects are most likely to be self-organizing and will emerge at different stages of the project's life cycle.
  • Even in projects that are primarily based on electronic resources and communication, face-to-face opportunities play an important role in sharing and benefiting from the work of communities.
  • Large projects should anticipate the need to support multiple communities of practice in content and functional areas.