Building Successful Digital Communities

Using data to understand what it truly takes to develop, manage, and sustain digital peer communities

Peer-to-peer digital learning community models are becoming increasingly valuable for effective adoption and implementation of instructional materials, especially during a time of widespread shift to remote professional development and instructional delivery models.



Given the growing body of research validating the demand for and impact of these communities, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (the foundation) is deepening learning and support in digital peer-to-peer (P2P) communities.



The foundation leveraged academic literature, social engagement data and case studies to develop a set of hypotheses about what makes some communities succeed and others fail and identified critical levers in community success, including platform choice community composition, incentive structures, community moderation, and continuous improvement.



Ten partners were awarded grants by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to launch customized digital teacher peer-to-peer (P2P) communities. While these partners each have a diverse set of instructional practices and curricula, spanning from Math to Science to Language Arts, they all are striving to strengthen teaching practices and curriculum use with their educators.

The Foundation set out to explore what insights and learning can be gleaned from the experience of each of these ten implementing partners, including what it truly takes to develop, manage, and sustain digital peer communities. Ongoing evaluation efforts seek to validate and potentially augment the principles of P2P Digital Learning Community structures. As part of the P2P evaluation efforts, the foundation, in partnership with ResultsLab, conducted case studies on two of these Professional Learning Communities.



Georgia State University & Clayton County Public Schools Case Study

Illustrative Mathematics Case Study