The potential of online academic communities for teaching staff: findings from a pilot study of the SocialLearn platform

Mooney, Gerry; Gilmour, Alison; McCall, Vikki and Rutherford, Paul (2014). The potential of online academic communities for teaching staff: findings from a pilot study of the SocialLearn platform. International Journal of Web Based Communities, 10(4) pp. 404–425.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1504/IJWBC.2014.065392

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to offer some insight from an evaluation that explored the viability, usefulness and potential of the online platform SocialLearn in providing an online community for Open University Associate Lecturers (part-time teaching staff). Findings from two focus groups and a staff survey highlighted both the potential of an online community and the barriers to successful implementation. In applying a qualitative analysis of the ‘Communities of Inquiry’ (CoI) framework, the pilot project highlighted the importance of social presence and cognitive presence, with minimal elements of a teaching presence within the online staff community. Key learning outcomes around privacy, usability and multi-level communications were found to be central in creating a successful online academic environment for teaching staff.

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