Posted by: Richard Schwier | June 1, 2011

“Connections: Virtual Learning Communities” ebook launch

Today, I’m pleased to launch my new ebook, and offer it as a free download. You can download it from

ebook cover

Connections: Virtual Learning Communities is an eBook that explores how online communities form, who joins them, and how they operate in learning environments. This book is available as an .epub document, suitable for viewing on most mobile devices and desktops. If you aren’t sure how to handle .epub files, check out this excellent review of software for desktop and mobile devices:

In the Virtual Learning Communities (VLC) Research Laboratory at the University of Saskatchewan we have been investigating the shape of online learning networks for more than a decade. We’ve conducted research and written a bunch of papers, chapters, articles and reports on the topic.

This ebook pulls together the big ideas from our work for educators who might actually be able to put what we have learned to good use. That’s what this book is about—making sense of online learning communities. In a sense it isn’t original; it is rewritten out of material the VLC Research Lab already created along with a healthy dose of my own speculations. So it is selective rather than comprehensive. It doesn’t attempt to pull together all of the excellent work and writing about online learning.

This is also an experiment with this digital form of a book. The ebook format offers a number of fresh affordances and imposes some really difficult layout restrictions. The book includes a number of links to resources and examples. Every chapter has a video introduction that you can jump to if you want to get the big idea without combing through an entire chapter to dig it out. And by the time I release the next edition, I hope to discover a reasonable way to embed videos into the document, instead of having to link to external files.

And I hope to make this an evergreen book that changes as we learn more about how groups of people gather online to learn together. I invite you to add your own ideas to the next edition of the book at

So download a copy of Connections for yourself, and tell your friends (or enemies, if you don’t like the book). This is the first time I have been able to guarantee that a book of mine will be worth every penny! ☺



  1. Congratulations on the new publication, Rick, and thanks for continuing to push the boundaries of academic writing! I’ve downloaded it to my iPad and can’t wait to read it!

    • Thanks, Alec, and also for tweeting about this to your network. You’ve got your finger on the pulse!

  2. […] released his new free eBook titled Connections: Virtual Learning Communities. Read about the book here, or download directly from this link. The book is in .epub format, so if you are unfamiliar with […]

  3. […] “Connections: Virtual Learning Communities” ebook launch « Rick's … Read more from Ebook Book, eBook, virtual Click here to cancel […]

  4. Congrats, Rick. It is loaded on my iPad and is in the top three for my summer reading list. I’m with Alec – you are pushing boundaries and maybe even blurring them with your multimedia and evergreen format. And creative commons on top of all that! I hope you are setting a trend that many other writers will follow.

  5. Thanks, Rob! So you’re reading Stieg Larsson’s stuff first? 🙂

    It was a hoot. I’m putting together a post on the process of writing an ebook (well, what I ended up learning, anyway), and maybe even designing a workshop on it. Kind of tricky stuff.

  6. I have browsed through the book, an excellent piece of work!! I will give it a close read. Congrats. Rick!!!!

    • Thanks, Ben! It was good fun to write, but of course I don’t deserve the credit. Most of the content is from stuff we worked on together!

  7. […] Summer e-Pub reading: Connections […]

  8. […] has recently announced the publication of his new book [Connections: Virtual Learning Communities](…. Rick describes it as … > … an eBook that explores how online communities form, who […]

  9. […] friend and mentor (frientor?) Rick Schwier has recently announced the publication of his new book Connections: Virtual Learning Communities. Rick describes it as … … an eBook that explores how online communities form, who […]

  10. […] “Connections: Virtual Learning Communities” ebook launch « Rick's Café Canadien Another free e-book that seems worth a closer look. (tags: usqict elearning) […]

  11. […] is Rick Schvier’s recently released epub Connections: Virtual Learning Communities and like Rick himself, it is full of insight, but also, his genial personality. Connections: […]

  12. Congrats Rick! I’m downloading it now. Can’t wait to start reading/listening/watching. 😉

    • Thanks, Darren. Let me know what you think!

    • [..] thanks a lot Darren can you inform me what you think about […]

  13. Hi, I have tried to download this book onto my computer but it doesn’t recognise the file (do not have ipad, ipod and anything else “i” ). Do you have the book in any other format I can download? thanks a lot, Sarah

    • Hi Sarah. Thanks for downloading the book. It is in .epub format, so you probably haven’t yet installed software that can open it. There are a bunch of programs you can download and try. The book will look and act a little differently in each, but they should work. Here’s a piece from that should solve the problem for you.

      I’ve tested the book on Adobe Digital Editions on my desktop, and it works. I don’t like it as much as on my iPad using iBooks, but that may be personal preference.

  14. Thanks Richard, that did the trick. It is most fortuitous fining this link – I am presenting a session to my colleagues in a week or two on social media and learning communities so I’ll enjoy reading what you have to say.

    • Great, Sarah. Hope you like it. And please pass along the link to folks in your workshop. The more the merrier.

  15. […] talk about Rick's book, my appearance on John Gormley, the Saskatchewan Teacher's contract negotiations and civil […]

  16. […] about his experience there, as well as Rick’s publishing his (highly recommended by me!) ebook on Connections: Virtual Learning Communities (there you go rick, maybe I can generate a CogDog Bump?, but I am no Courehski…), likely […]

  17. […] June about virtual learning communities that should be part of your back to school reading. Called Connections, available as a free download on his site, and chock full of edu – […]

  18. […] It is people who are making efforts to act as humans by self publishing, the attitude that Rick Schwier adopted in his eBook on Connections: Virtual Learning Communities published for free […]

  19. […] to use the notes for anything, feel free, but please credit him.  He also has a free ebook found here.)  We discussed how communities are either  formal (organized by an external party and operated […]

  20. […] more deliberate and intentional when trying to foster a community with my students. In his ebook Connections: Virtual Learning Communities Schwier discusses how “communities cannot be created; rather, they emerge when conditions […]

  21. […] titled Connections: Virtual Learning Communities. For more information about the book, visit:  To get your free copy of the ebook (epub file): […]

  22. […] titled Connections: Virtual Learning Communities. For more information about the book, visit:  To get your free copy of the ebook (epub […]

  23. […] is a free e-book by Richard Schwier, titled Connections: Virtual Learning Communities. You can get more information about the book, and get your free copy of the ebook as an epub […]

  24. […] and Death of Online Learning Communities"- Richard A. Schwier, Univ. of Saskatchewan, Canada (Blog) An interesting presentation:Connections and Contexts: The Birth, Growth and Death of Online […]

  25. […] titled Connections: Virtual Learning Communities. For more information about the book, visit:  To get your free copy of the ebook (epub […]

  26. […] from this work. The book is in epub format, and can be downloaded for free. Check it out! (Source: Tags: ebook, education, free, learning, online learning, research, virtual learning communities, […]

  27. “Connections: Virtual Learning Communities ebook launch Rick’s Café Canadien” ended up being quite enjoyable and enlightening! Within modern universe honestly, that is very difficult to manage. Thanks a lot, Tobias

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