Effective strategies for developing and sustaining a participatory culture in professional online communities in education
Author(s)Knolle, Jonathan Wylie
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AbstractDissertation (Ed.D., Educational Leadership)--California State University, Sacramento, 2013.
The objective of this mixed methods study is to identify the drivers and barriers to participation in professional online communities in education. The results of this study will help educational leaders establish and maintain more effective online communities, increase opportunities for dialog, and facilitate the sharing of resources that may help improve education. It is believed that as participation in online communities increases, educators will benefit from greater access to resources, shared knowledge, and professional development. This mixed methods study used an exploratory sequential design comprised of both qualitative and quantitative data. The qualitative strand focused on collecting data through 30-minute interviews with 7 participants who have served in the role of online group leaders on Brokers of Expertise. The outcome of the qualitative strand was a list of categories of factors that hinder or encourage participation in online communities. A combination of existing site usage data and quantitative survey data was used to determine which, if any, of the factors identified during the qualitative strand have significant impact on community group participation. In addition the quantitative strand served to uncover participant characteristics that have significant impact on participation. The researcher found that professional development, networking, knowledge sharing, interest in technology, and recognition all have positive relationships with community group participation. Conversely, lack of awareness, lack of training, and lack of leadership were found to have significant negative relationships to participation. Of the participant characteristics, length of membership on BoE, length of time in education, age range, and perceived technology efficacy were all found to be significant predictors of community group participation. The grade levels undergraduate and graduate as well as the subject(s)/topic(s) technology, foreign language, teacher education, career technical education, mathematics, English Language Arts, and professional development have greater than average levels of participation. Of the motivators to join the community, desire for belonging, networking, and sharing, were found to each have significant positive impact on community group participation. The qualitative data from the interview responses resulted in facilitation strategies organized into the following themes: engage group members with frequent communication, establish and communicate a clear purpose/vision for your group, establish an effective group design/structure, maximize utility/value of group resources and tools, provide group members with clear instructions/guidelines for participation, be an active and engaged leader.