Creating a model to examine motivation for sustained engagement in online communities
This paper considers factors that influenced long-term engagement in an online community. It draws on a case study of a 6 year online collaboration amongst a group of European teachers. The email interchange between these teachers was, with their agreement, saved and used as research data; intensive group interviews were also conducted, involving all the participants in the online group. Dynamic motivation models and Csikszentmihalyi’s concept of motivational flow were used to create a theoretical framework to analyse the email interchanges and group interview data so as to build an understanding of the teachers’ commitment to the online community. As a result of the analysis, the existing theoretical models were modified to produce a new combined model. This incorporates ideas grounded in the participants’ reasons for their sustained engagement in the collaboration. This combined model could provide a basis for planning future virtual interactions and for assessing their sustainability.