• 100 Fabulous Social Networks and Communities for Lifelong Learners

    Mar 16th, 2009

    Whether you’re heading back to school after years in the working world or just like to learn about new topics in your spare time, being able to find support, information and an active community of like minded individuals can be essential to your learning success. Fortunately, the Internet makes it easier than ever to connect with others who are in the same boat as you and allows you to communicate quickly and easily with people from all over the world. Here are 100 that we’ve collected that you can use to get in touch and find new learning opportunities.

    Reading

    One of the easiest ways to learn new things at any stage of your life is by picking up a book. Whether you want to read the classics or keep up with the latest non-fiction these social networks will help you find new reads and get more out of them by discussing them with others.

    1. BookJetty: Use BookJetty to share your favorite books, read ratings from Amazon, learn what books might be available at your library, and connect with others reading the same books.
    2. BookCrossing: Meet thousands of others from around the world on this site who share a common interest– books! You’ll get recommendations, make new friends and more.
    3. LibraryThing: Use this site to list the books you own and love while connecting with others with similar interests, getting suggestions for new reading and read reviews.
    4. Books Well Read: From talking about the symbolism in Hemingway to those who want help remembering the best parts of what they read, this online community is an essential resource.
    5. ConnectViaBooks: Use this social network to connect with others with similar interests in reading.
    6. GoodReads: Here you can list the books you’ve read, want to read and get some suggestions of new places to look for reading enjoyment.
    7. Revish: This site not only allows you to share your reading lists but also to engage in discussion groups to talk about what you’ve read.
    8. Shelfari: Create an online bookshelf using this social networking tool and you’ll get in touch with thousands of others who can give you suggestions of what to read next.
    9. Reader’s Paradise: Join up on this forum to discuss all topics related to reading.
    10. aNobii: aNobii lets users make lists of their books, talk about what they’re reading and connect with people of all kinds.

    Business Networks

    What do you plan to do with all that new learning? If you’re working on a degree, you may be in the market for a new job after graduation. These tools can help you network, learn more about the field you’re going into, and much more.

    1. XING: With over 7 million members, this business networking site is a great place to get in touch and learn with business owners and operators around the world.
    2. Ryze: Here you’ll be able to connect with old friends and make new ones, and great business connections.
    3. Jigsaw: You can use this site for finding information about businesses and maybe even hook up with a new one.
    4. Spoke: This site has millions of members in all kinds of businesses and lets you create a profile, send messages and even search for jobs.
    5. Fast Pitch: Want to market all those new ideas you’ve been coming up with? This site lets you do just that, along with making some great new connections.
    6. Doostang: Make the most of the education you’re getting by finding a better job and business networks through this site.
    7. ImageKind: If you’re into creating artwork, designs or other creative things, this site can help you market and sell your work.
    8. Konnects: This site can help individuals make great connections and chat in communities with others who have shared interests.
    9. APSense: APSense allows users to promote their businesses, ideas and careers while making new friends and connections.
    10. Gooruze: Learn all you need to know about online marketing from this helpful social networking community.

    Clubs and Social Gatherings

    Meeting up with others who share interests with you or who have more expertise in things you want to learn more about is easy with these social networks and online communities.

    1. MatchActivity: Want to get more advice on how to knit? Meet up to discuss the latest best seller? This site can match you up with others in your area that share your interests.
    2. CircleUp: Do you want to start a club? This site makes it easy to send out messages to all those who are interested in meeting up with you.
    3. Change: Whether you have a dream to change the world or just want to learn more about someone living a life different from your own this site helps hook you up with others working for social change.
    4. Meetup: No matter what you want to meet up to do, this site makes keeping in touch and finding new groups easy.
    5. HobbyThing: This this helps you learn more about others hobbies and share the ins and outs of your own.
    6. CratenFire: Check out this site to share your work, hobbies and more and learn from other members.
    7. Hobeze: Share your hobby, discuss things with others and even discover new passions on this great site.
    8. Listal: Here you can find lists of the best of the best of everything, according to the other users of this site. You can find new ways to explore an old hobby or learn all about something new you never knew you loved by networking with others on this site.

    Students

    For those who are pursuing lifelong education at a college or other learning center, these online tools are designed to keep you in touch with other students and studying right.

    1. CampusBug: CampusBug is designed to help students stay in touch with one another and share valuable thoughts and information from classes and beyond.
    2. RateMyProfessor: Want to know what to expect when you get a particular professor? This site can help you rate your teachers and get in touch with others who’ve had them.
    3. Graduates: This site is designed to help communication between students, those still in school and those who’ve finished and want to keep in touch.
    4. The Quad: Join the study forums and get updates about events like lectures and more on the college-centered site.
    5. wePapers: Want to see what someone ahead of you has already said about a topic? This site allows you to post your own papers and read what other students are writing.
    6. NoteMesh: Share your notes with others in your class on this easy-to-use networking and communication site.
    7. College-Cram: This site is full of social learning resources that will make it easy for your to study on your own and with others in your classes.
    8. College-Ruled: Here you can put your class schedule online, organize your assignments and share your thoughts on online discussion boards.
    9. NoteCentric: Store and share your class notes on this site that allows you to access them from anywhere.
    10. LearnHub: This site is home to advice on studying abroad, resume building and career advice as well as all kinds of learning communities.

    Learning and Education

    These online tools are great for helping you learn more and meet others with your love of learning, no matter your age.

    1. Moodle: This free application makes it easy to create and share online learning communities for classes or just for casual learning experiences.
    2. LectureShare: This site makes it possible for instructors to share lectures and notes with students, many of which are available to everyone.
    3. TutorLinker: Need a little help with your homework? This site makes it easy to find tutors so you can learn better.
    4. Lifelong Learning Network: Meet up with other lifelong learners on this networking site.
    5. Lifelong Learning Message Board: Post your thoughts or read those of others on this helpful message board.
    6. Smart.fm: Here you’ll find instructional lists that can help you learn more about everything from architecture to Asian capitals.
    7. Rafi.ki: Get in touch with learners all over the world using this simple online tool, with educational projects and communicational tools.
    8. Clivir: This site has online classrooms that anyone can be a part of, with a wide variety of lessons.
    9. Eduslide: Share your knowledge and learn from others on this e-learning community site.
    10. E-Learning Community 2.0: This tool acts as an intermediary between places of knowledge and learners like you, making it easy to find what you need.
    11. EduSpaces: Those interested in education and educational technologies can join this expanding social network.
    12. RCampus: RCampus is a great place for "building personal and group websites, managing your courses, e-portfolios, academic communities, and much more."
    13. Barbelith: Check out this subculture-oriented site to discuss everything from politics to comic books. You can engage in intellectually stimulating conversations and maybe even learn a thing or two.
    14. Flashcard Friends: Studying doesn’t have to be difficult. This site allows users to make and share flashcards.

    Seeing the World

    One way to keep on learning about the world is to see it in person rather than just read about it. These sites are a great way to find information, photos and advice on places all over the world for travel or just daydreaming.

    1. Matador: This site is an open forum for sharing your travel stories or reading about the adventures of others.
    2. TravBuddy: Here you can find out where you might like to visit or find out about great sites around the world.
    3. Dopplr: Plan out your next trip using this site, where you can get great, reliable information about where to go and what to see.
    4. Lonely Planet: Whether you’re looking into life in a remote corner of the earth or want to stretch out your legs on an adventurous trip, you’ll find loads of posts in this online forum.
    5. Virtual Tourist: If you can’t afford to take a vacation but still want to see the world, check out this site to explore places virtually.
    6. BootsnAll: This site is an indispensable resource for travelers who love to go it on their own. Check out their lists of the best places or chat with others about their recommendations.
    7. Driftr: Here you can keep track of where you’ve been, where you want to go and talk with other travelers.
    8. GoAbroad: Those in college can learn more about study abroad experiences through this community site.
    9. TrekCafe: From booking travel to finding travel partners, this site is home to a wealth of resources for travelers and those looking to learn more.

    Topic Specific Learning

    These communities and networks are home to more specific interest, from knitting to birding, helping you pursue knowledge in a variety of fields.

    1. ArtSlant: Join this art network to learn more about exhibitions and gallery openings in cities around the nation.
    2. Community Arts Network: The arts are everywhere and you can learn more about what’s going on with community arts in yours through this network.
    3. BottleTalk: Want to learn more about wine so you can understand what to pair with what? This site is home to loads of wine enthusiasts who can provide advice and instruction to novices.
    4. Flixster: Chat about films, fluffy and foreign alike, on this community of cinephiles.
    5. BirdPost: Join up with others who love birding and learn more about the fauna in your area through this online community.
    6. EditRed: This network of writers makes it easy to get your work out there and maybe even get it edited by someone else in the community.
    7. Experience Project: This site is home to shared experiences from people all over the world. You can gain a lot from reading about what others have done, and maybe shape your own experiences because of it.
    8. Ravelry: Knitters and those hoping to learn more about this craft can meet up and talk here.
    9. J-Learning: Learn more about journalism and improve your writing skills through this educationally focused site.

    Sharing Ideas and Resources

    Learners of all ages need to share information for working together and supporting other learners. These sites offer great ways to do that easily and make your information and that of others readily accessible.

    1. Bibsonomy: This site provides an easy way to share not only bookmarks but lists of literature, a useful tool to organize your material but also find work done by others that might be useful to you.
    2. Diigo: With Diigo you can highlight, bookmark and share just about anything on the web, making it easy to collaborate and work collectively.
    3. StumbleUpon: Through this social bookmarking site, you can pick out articles and sites you find interesting and see what others have marked that you might find of interest.
    4. Blinklist: BlinkList makes saving your links fast and easy and sharing them with other learners is a snap as well.
    5. Furl: Save and share sites you think are of interest with this simple and easy-to-use tool.
    6. Clipmarks: Clip out pieces of texts or images on the Web that are relevant to your research, personal interests or group projects and make them accessible to others through Clipmarks.
    7. Sticky Notes: The virtual alternative to the real-life sticky, this program allows you to make short notes about websites and pass them to friends, colleagues and other learners.
    8. Newsvine: Check out Newsvine to read up on the latest things going on in the world. You can also contribute your own important stories and share sites with friends.
    9. Zoho Projects: Zoho Projects makes it simple to collaborate, share notes and work on group projects through an accessible online medium.
    10. Mindomo: This online mind-mapping software makes it easy to track your thoughts and get feedback from others.
    11. Bubbl.us: Get those juices flowing with this brainstorming tool that allows you to share your ideas with anyone you’d like.

    Language Learning

    Who doesn’t wish they knew more languages? These online networks and tools make it easier and more fun to do so.

    1. LiveMocha: Join LiveMocha to get access to free language lessons as well as take part in an active online community.
    2. SpeakLike: If you’re not quite fluent yet but still want to talk with people from around the world, check out this helpful online tool. You can also sign up to stretch your skills out as a translator.
    3. Chaula: Get a free trial of this language learning lab to get access to lessons and interactions with language tools.
    4. Babbel: Don’t just learn words from a vocab list, put your language skills to use with this online learning community.
    5. SharedTalk: Found on the well-known language software Rosetta Stone’s site, this network allows you to find people who speak a wide variety of languages to converse with.
    6. Lingoz: Lingoz is more than just an online language dictionary. You’ll also find experts and native speakers to answer any of your language learning questions.
    7. VoxSwap: Here you’ll be matched up with others based on your language knowledge and what you want to learn so that both partners in a conversation can benefit from the interaction.
    8. Huitalk: This site hopes to offer a new way to learn languages by fostering an open exchange of language education.
    9. My Happy Planet: Join this community to learn a language from native speakers around the world.
    10. xLingo: This language exchange community allows users to share their language skills in a native language while getting assistance from others in theirs.
    11. Italki: Check out the free resources on this site, designed to help you learn a new language with the help of others around the world.

    General Sites

    These sites are great for learners looking for large, active online communities.

    1. LinkedIn: A linked in account is essential for learners hoping to network and get ahead in their careers.
    2. Second Life: Create an account and an avatar on this site and you can take online courses, communicate, explore museums and more in a virtual world.
    3. Facebook: Originally designed to keep students in touch, this site is now open to anyone. You can find loads of integrated learning tools, groups and information about goings on at your school or in your community.
    4. TeacherTube: If you want to learn, connect with others who are teaching and learning, check out this site full of instructional videos.
    5. YouTube: Not everything on YouTube is just for laughs. You can also find helpful videos to help you learn and explore, or just keep up with what the kids are into.
    6. delicious: You can easily share and save interesting articles you don’t have time to read at the moment.
    7. TeeBeeDee: Geared towards users 40 and over, this site can be an ideal place to network for older learners.
    8. Ning: Ning allows you to create your own specialized social networks, for use for education, sharing or whatever else you’d like.
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