The World of learning is undergoing radical changes. Increasingly Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) support new temporal and spatial learning configurations. Traditional face-toface learning situations offer a variety of ways for people to provide informal feedback contributing to the establishment and maintenance of a community atmosphere. ICT supported distance education presents a challenge for the establishment of community. This paper explores the design criteria for mechanisms compensating for the loss of informal feedback in a real-life distance educational setting by codifying and visualising the community atmosphere. This is accomplished by two case studies each designing, implementing and evaluating a web-based community atmosphere barometer. The results indicate the importance of providing ICT support with sufficient flexibility allowing the community to engage in collective processes of sensemaking when jointly expressing the atmosphere.