Using Social Media as a Platform for a Virtual Professional Learning Community

Laurie Bedford

Abstract


The Professional Learning Community (PLC) has been used in higher education to provide a platform for faculty members to discuss challenges and build professional skills. While the virtual PLC (VPLC) is becoming a more acceptable delivery mechanism for faculty professional development, successful practices for designing these learning environments has received little attention in the research literature.   Social media has been found to provide an environment in which professional learning can occur.  However, social media use for professional development has primarily focused on informal learning in unstructured formats.  The purpose of this interpretive qualitative study was to provide insight into how a purposefully structured social media platform might be used to support a VPLC.  Twenty-two doctoral mentoring faculty members from an online university agreed to participate in a VPLC using a social media platform and facilitated by expert colleagues.  Upon completion of the ten-week experience, data was collected using a self-reflective interview strategy. This study confirmed previous research into the benefits of the PLC for professional development in academia and of using social media for professional learning.  It extended the research to describe the structured, VPLC using a social medial platform to engage faculty, build relationships and foster shared learning. 


Keywords


professional learning community, faculty development, remote faculty, social media

Full Text:

PDF

References


Antin, T., Constantine, N., & Hunt, G. (2015). Conflicting discourses in qualitative research: The search for divergent data within cases. Field Methods, 27(3), 211-222.

Babbie, E. (1995). The practice of social research (7th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Bedford, L., & Rossow, K. (2017). Facilitating professional learning communities among higher education faculty: The Walden Junto model. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 20(2). Retrieved from http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/summer202/bedford_rossow202.html

Belange, S., Bluvshtein, M., & Haugen, D. (2015). Cybersocial connectedness: A survey of perceived benefits and disadvantages of social media use. The Journal of Individual Psychology, 71(2). Retrieved from https://utpress.utexas.edu/journals/journal-of-individual-psychology

Blitz, C. (2013). Can online learning communities achieve the goals of traditional learning communities? What the literature says. National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance: Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved from https://ies.ed.gov/ncee/edlabs/regions/midatlantic/pdf/REL_2013013.pdf

Brock, T., Asseemi, M., Corelli, R., El-Ibiary, S., Kavookijian, J., Martin, B., & Hudmon, K. (2014). A nontraditional faculty development initiative using a social media platform. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 78(5). Retrieved from http://www.ajpe.org/doi/pdf/10.5688/ajpe785105

Brooks, C. F. (2010). Toward 'hybridised' faculty development for the twenty-first century: blending online PLC and face-to-face meetings in instructional and professional support programmes. Innovations in Education & Teaching International, 47(3), 261-270. doi:10.1080/14703297.2010.498177

Caelli, K., Ray, L., & Mill, J. (2003). Clear as mud: Towards a greater clarity in generic qualitative research. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 2(2), 1 – 23. doi: 10.1177/160940690300200201

Carlson, M., & McCaslin, N. (2003). Meta-inquiry: An approach to interview success. The Qualitative Report, 8(4), 549-569. Retrieved from http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/QR8-4/carlson.pdf

Charnigo, L., & Barnett-Ellis, P. (2007). Checking out Facebook.com: The impact of a digital trend on academic libraries. Information Technology and Libraries, 26(1), 23-34. Retrieved from http://www.acrl.org/ala/lita/litapublications/ital/262007/2601mar/charnigo.pdf

Cox, E. (2012). Individual and organizational trust in a reciprocal peer coaching context. Mentoring & Tutoring: Partnership in Learning, 20(3), 427–443. doi:10.1080/13611267.2012.701967

Donelan, H. (2016) Social media for professional development and networking opportunities in academia, Journal of Further and Higher Education, 40(5), 706-729. doi: 10.1080/0309877X.2015.1014321

Dowling, M. (2006). Approaches to reflexivity in qualitative research. Nurse Researcher, 3(13), 7-21.

DuFour, R. (2004). What is a professional learning community? Educational Leadership 61(8), 6–11. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/may04/vol61/num08/What-Is-a-Professional-Learning-Community%C2%A2.aspx

Ford, L., Branch, G., & Moore, G. (2008). Formation of a virtual professional learning community in a combined local and distance doctoral cohort. Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education, 16(2), 161–185. Retrieved from www.learntechlib.org/d/24249

Garrison, D., Cleveland-Innes, M., Koole, M., & Kappelman, J. (2006). Revisiting methodological issues in transcript analysis: Negotiated coding and reliability. The Internet and Higher Education, 9, 1-8. doi:10.1016

Hellawell, J. (2006). Inside-out: Analysis of the insider-outsider concept as a heuristic

device to develop reflexivity in students doing qualitative research. Teaching in Higher Education, 11(4), 483-494.

Herman, J. (2012). Faculty development programs: The frequency and variety of professional development programs available to online instructors. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 16(5), 87-106. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1000093.pdf

Hodes, T., & Cady, J. (2013). Blended-format professional development and the emergence of communities of practice. Math Education Research, 25, 299-316. doi: 10.1007/s13394-012-0065-0

Huston, T., & Weaver, C. L. (2008). Peer coaching: Professional development for experienced faculty. Innovative Higher Education, 33(1), 5–20. doi:10.1007/s10755-007-9061-9

Jacob, S. A., & Furgerson, S. P. (2012). Writing interview protocols and conducting interviews: Tips for students new to the field of qualitative research. The Qualitative Report, 17(42), 1-10. Retrieved from http://nsuworks.nova.edu/tqr/vol17/iss42/3

Kane, R., Shaw, M., Pang, S., Salley, W., & Snider, J.B. (2016). Faculty professional development and student satisfaction in online higher education. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 19(2) Retrieved from http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/summer192/kane_shaw_pang_salley_snider192.html

Kind, T., & Evans, Y. (2015). Social media for lifelong learning. International Review of Psychiatry, 27(2), 214-132. doi: 10.3109/09540261

Krutka, D., Carpenter, J., & Trust, T. (2017). Enriching professional learning networks: A framework for identification, reflection, and intention. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning, 61(3), 246-252. doi:10.1007/s11528-016-0141-5

Koch, C. (2008). The coaching process in higher education. Perspectives on Issues in Higher Education, 11(2), 44–47. doi:10.1044/ihe11.2.44

Kvale, S. (1996). Interviews: An introduction to qualitative research interviewing. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Lewis, S., & Ewing, C. (2016). Assuring student learning outcomes achievement though faculty development: An online university example. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 16(4). Retrieved from http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/winter194/lewis_ewing194.html

Lorenzo-Romero, C., Alacrcon-del-Amo, M., & Constantinides, E. (2012). Segmentation of users of social networking websites. Social Behavior and Personality, 40(3). Retrieved from https://www.sbp-journal.com/index.php/sbp/article/view/2501

Matzat, U. (2013). Do blended virtual learning communities enhance teachers’ professional development more than purely virtual ones? A large-scale empirical comparison. Computers and Education, 60, 40-51. Retrieved from http://www.elsevier.com/locate/compedu

McAllister, M., Oprescu, F., & Jones, C. (2014). N2E: Envisioning a process to support transition from nurse to educator. Contemporary Nurse: A Journal for The Australian Nursing Profession, 46(2), 242-250. doi:10.5172/conu.2014.46.2.242

McConnell, T., Parker, J., Eberhardt, J., Koehler, M., & Lundeberg, M. (2012). Virtual professional learning communities: Teachers’ perceptions of virtual versus face-to-face Professional development. Journal of Science and Technology. doi 10.1007/s10956-012-9391-y

McKee, C., & Tew, W. (2013). Setting the stage for teaching and learning in American higher education: Making the case for faculty development. New Directions for Teaching & Learning, (133), 3-14. doi:10.1002/tl.20041

Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis: An expanded source

book (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Mintzes, J.J., Marcum, B., Messerschmidt-Yates, C., & Mark, A. (2013). Enhancing self-efficacy in elementary science teaching with professional learning communities. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 24. doi:10.1007/s10972-012-9320-1

Moorley, C., & Chinn, T. (2014). Using social media for continuous professional development. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 71(4), 713-717.

Cândida Müller, M.C. & Lucchesi de Carvalho, D. (2014). Learning communities for teacher research: Experiences of the GdS and GETEMAT. Journal of Education and Human Development, 3(1). doi: 10.15640/jehd

Patton, M. (2003). Qualitative research and evaluation methods (3rd ed). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Pew Research Center. (2014). Pew Research Center Internet Project January Omnibus Survey. Retrieved from http://www. pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/social-networking-fact-sheet/

Robson, J. (2016) Engagement in structured social space: an investigation of teachers' online peer-to-peer interaction. Learning, Media and Technology, 41(1), 119-139. doi:10.1080/17439884.2015.1102743

Sack-Min, J. (2017). Social media helps educators build professional learning communities. Education Digest, 82(6), 25-29.

Sari-Motlah, R., Ebrahimi, S., Nikfallah, A., & Hajebrahimi, S.B. (2016). Lifelong learning in practice: The age of discussion through social media. European Urology, 69, 1161-1163. doi: 10.1016/j.eururo.2016.01.025

Schwandt, T. A. (1997). Qualitative inquiry: A dictionary of terms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Shin, R. K., Kim, M. Y., & Chung, S. E. (2009). Methods and strategies utilized in

published qualitative research. Qualitative Health Research, 19(6), 850-858.

doi:10.1177/1049732309335857

Steinert, Y. (2010). Faculty development: From workshops to PLC. Medical Teacher, 32(5), 425-428. doi:10.3109/01421591003677897

Thorne, S. (2016). Interpretive description: Qualitative research for applied practice (Vol. 2). Routledge.

Urquhart, R., Cornelissen, E., Lal, S., Colquhoun, H., Klein, G., Richmond, S., & Witteman, H. O. (2013). A Community of Practice for Knowledge Translation Trainees: An Innovative Approach for Learning and Collaboration. Journal of Continuing Education in The Health Professions, 33(4), 274-281. doi:10.1002/chp.21190

Valle, M., & Fuchs, T. (2015). Teaching and learning communities: Empowering adjuncts and ensuring quality. Journal of Education and Human Development, 4(1). Retrieved from http://jehdnet.com/vol-4-no-1-march-2015-abstract-1-jehd

Veletsianos, G. (2017). Three cases of hashtags used as learning and professional development environments. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning, 61(3), 284-292. doi:10.1007/s11528-016-0143-3

Welman, J. C., & Kruger, S. J. (1999). Research methodology for the business and administrative sciences. Johannesburg, South Africa: International Thompson.

Wenger, E., McDermott, R., & Snyder, W.M. (2002). Cultivating PLC: A

guide to managing knowledge. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

Yee, K. (2015). Constructivism reconsidered in the age of social media. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 144. doi: 10.1002/tl.20166




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24059/olj.v23i3.1538



Copyright (c) 2019 Laurie Bedford

License URL: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/