Online communities of practice and their role in educational development: A systematic appraisal

Lynn Swift

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Practice teachers and academics have a role in developing knowledge and promoting evidence-based practice with their students in a supportive and creative learning environment. Recent advances in technology are enabling 'communities of practice' (CoPs) to be developed online and may present a valuable opportunity to form greater connections between educators. To explore this idea, the author conducted a systematic appraisal of published evidence relating to the impact of using an online CoP (OCoP) to develop knowledge among healthcare educators. Three academic databases were targeted for articles and the search retrieved nine articles that were analysed for quality. The findings identified that an OCoP offers a 'polycontextual' environment that can enhance knowledge development, strengthen social ties and build social capital. Communities that support tacit knowledge development, information sharing and problem solving are most valued and existing information and communication technology (ICT) tools can be used to promote usability and accessibility. Recognising the value of tacit knowledge and using ICT for educational development within workload hours will require a shift in cultural thinking at both an individual and organisational level.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-31
JournalCommunity practitioner : the journal of the Community Practitioners' & Health Visitors' Association
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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