UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Evaluating the effects of an online community of practice : the case of Openpediatrics Sarmast, Hamideh


Many factors contribute to preventable child and infant mortality globally including a shortage of well-educated health care professionals, heavy workloads in pediatric departments, and lack of time for professional development. These factors are particularly acute in developing countries. Online Communities of Practice (OCoPs) create opportunities for those with limited access to high quality learning experiences, to join virtual communities that encourage the creation and exchange of knowledge and experiences. OPENPediatrics (OP), an OCoP, was created to connect clinicians worldwide involved in the care of children to enable them to share their knowledge and experiences, to improve their professional competencies, to help ill children and save lives. The purpose of this study was to evaluate OP as an online community of practice, to determine its effects from the perspective of its users and to recommend ways that OP and other OCoPs can be made more effective as platforms for professional development. An outcomes-logic-model was created using the theory of Communities of Practice as a conceptual framework. Drawing on elements of Utilization-focused Evaluation (UFE), six research questions were developed to examine the significance and outcomes of OP. Findings showed that OP, as an OCoP, helps pediatric clinicians learn, increase their competencies and deliver better care. Results of this study also identified some limitations of OP such as lack of awareness of its many features among users, contextual problems in using OP in developing countries, and low levels of interaction among members. OPENPediatrics plays a significant positive role in users’ learning, professional development and quality of care although there is room to improve how it functions as an OCoP. Recommendations are offered to the leadership of OP and to those who may wish to conduct research on the effectiveness of online communities of practice.

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