Learning in a Twitter-based community of practice: an exploration of knowledge exchange as a motivation for participation in #hcsmca
Type of work: Article (academic)
Categories:e-Learning and Instructional Technology | Social Media & Social Software
Through participation in communities of practice (CoPs), those with a common interest can share in learning about and improving practices within their domain (Wenger, E. (2006). Communities of practice: A brief introduction). As CoPs move online, there is increased potential for more expansive and diverse membership. By providing a space in which a global population of members can engage with each other and access and contribute information and knowledge, social media may be used to support online CoPs. Although not originally designed for community development, Twitter is one social media platform that is being used in innovative ways to support communities. This study explores learning as a motivation for participating in the successful Twitter-based CoP Health Care Social Media Canada (#hcsmca). #hcsmca uses tweet chats (planned synchronous discussions aggregated by a hashtag) to engage in robust dialogues associated with learning and knowledge creation. Interviews with 24 #hcsmca community members show that learning is a fundamental motivator for participation in the community. Twitter was found to be a platform that enables learning for #hcsmca members, albeit not universally. Four thematic elements of learning in #hcsmca were identified. For interviewees, learning was a motivation for participating in the community because they were able to access and share expertise, discover who knows what within the healthcare community, access novel information through interactions with members who have diverse personal and professional backgrounds, and learn information that they could apply in their personal and professional lives.