Successful Virtual Communities of Practice in Health Care

Successful Virtual Communities of Practice in Health Care

Elizabeth Hanlis (Ehanlis Inc., Canada) and Paul Abbass (LegitiMed Inc., Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch336
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Background

Communities of Practice (CoP) are groups “of people who share a concern, a set of problems, or a passion about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting on an on-going basis” (Wenger, McDermott, & Snyder, 2002, p.4). Generally, such communities seem to be an innovative way to share and manage knowledge and sustain innovation (Wenger et al., 2002).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Lurkers: Members of the community who do not contribute regularly ( Endslay et al., 2005 ). Lurkers limit their participation to passively observing, rather than actively participating in community discussions ( Demiris, 2006 ).

Explicit Knowledge (or codified knowledge): Transmittable in formal systematic language expressed in symbols, words, and/or numbers ( Rynes & Bartunek, 2001 ). This is the type of knowledge or information that we can easily document and obtain from books and journals.

Communities of Practice (CoP): Groups “of people who share a concern, a set of problems, or a passion about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting on an on-going basis” ( Wenger et al., 2002 , p.4).

Tacit Knowledge: Personal, context-specific knowledge, rooted in action and experience that is difficult to formalize and communicate ( Rynes & Bartunek, 2001 ). It is knowledge that is shared via stories, anecdotes, metaphors, personal reflections, and communication ( Sandars & Heller, 2006 ).

Asynchronous Discussion Forums (or Bulletin Board): Web-based conversations that allow users to post, view, and reply to messages ( Kevin, 2006 ). The benefit of such a tool is that it the information posted by the CoP is archived for later viewing and in most systems key-word searchable ( Nagy et al., 2006 ).

Active Participant: One who is actively engaged in a virtual community. Such participants display interactive behavior, which includes collaborative or positive interactive behavior or even hostile behavior ( Demiris, 2006 ).

Virtual Communities of Practice (VCoP): Primarily rely on ICT to connect members of a CoP and may use a large array of traditional media (phone teleconference, fax etc) and more or less sophisticated technological tools to establish a common virtual collaborative space ( Demiris, 2006 ; Dube et al., 2006 )

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