IEEE Virtual Communities

Submitted by Ted Takacs on Sun, 12/26/2004 - 17:01.

Online Communities Story

"A professional society provides a forum for advances to be related, and for people to learn about them."-Benjamin Richard Teare, Jr.

When
IEEE was founded, its members could easily get together for
face-to-face, real time communication due to their location. But, as
the membership of the Institute grew, efforts had to be made to
increase the participation of those living in other parts of the
country.

Additionally, as the scope of
electrical engineering expanded, engineers became more specialized and
sought to exchange information with others in the same specialties. It
was this need to interact that lead to the formation of the first
Technical Committee in 1903.

Today, with
the continuing growth in membership throughout the world, we must find
new ways to provide that same level interaction regardless of location.
Additionally, the IEEE recognizes other organizational and individual
member needs such as:

  • Ability for IEEE
    Members, Governance, Committees, and Staff to collaborate,
    synchronously or asynchronously, outside of live meetings and
    teleconferences
  • Retain IEEE "corporate memory"
  • Increase volunteerism and by making it easier for individuals to participate 
  • Accelerate
    the sharing and delivery of domain-specific knowledge for IEEE Members
    and Customers which can be utilized to accomplish their work-related
    tasks

Through the means of new
technology, we can now bridge geographical boundaries and provide
additional opportunities for IEEE Members, Volunteers, Staff, and
Governance to communicate and collaborate through use of Online
Communities.

An Online Community consists
of a group of individuals that have a shared purpose or common
interests that utilize online communication and collaboration tools to
facilitate the accomplishment of their goals or to fill voids that may
currently exist by relying solely on in-person or real-time
interactions. Online Community Members are engaged in value-creating
relationships with "anytime/anywhere" access to shared knowledge.
Through the use of tools in the software platform, community members
interact socially, which facilitates a sense of togetherness.

Some benefits of Online Communities are:

  • Online collaboration and continued communication outside of in-person meetings and teleconferences.
  • Networking opportunities
  • Discussions on the latest technologies, vital issues, and IEEE activities
  • Just-in time education for application on the job
  • Access to technical experts and peers for question asking, advice, and problem-solving
  • Peer review of work

At
IEEE, the goal of online collaboration is to call forth the best that
members have to offer one another and minimize all of the obstacles
that we can in order for this exchange to occur.

IEEE
delivers tools and methods for online collaboration so that each
community can quickly focus on vital issues or projects at hand,
operate in a cost-effective manner, enhance continuity of effort,
clarify and gain consensus through dialogue, create synergistic
interdependence with other IEEE constituencies and create valuable
resources.