TEL Communities

Helen Caldwell and Anna Cox | View as single page | Feedback/Impact
TEL Communities
Definitions: Theoretical background relevant to technology facilitated social learning
Research evidence: Systematic literature reviews on the theme of technology facilitated social learning

Knowledge sharing in the TWT CoP

To draw these social theories together we identified that Hoadley and Kilner’s C4P framework on how knowledge is created and disseminated by participants in a CoP offered the most flexible framework on which to apply our findings (Hoadley and Kilner, 2005).  The C4P framework is based on the idea that that knowledge is generated and shared when there is purposeful conversation around content within a context. This framework is based on the theory that knowledge and learning exist as by products of social processes that take place in a community of practice (2005, p1). The C4P is short for ‘content, conversation, connections, context, and purpose’ and comprise the non-linear system that occurs in a community of practice. Hoadley and Kilner (2007) surmise that the more each of these elements are present in a community the more likely and effective the knowledge will be. Each of the five elements are defined in specific ways and feed and reinforce each other. We discuss each of these in more detail, explore how they relate to each other and give examples from the Teaching with Tablets MOOC. Hoadley and Kilner (2007) surmise that the more each of these elements are present in a community the more likely and effective the knowledge will be. Each of the five elements are defined in specific ways and feed and reinforce each other.

Content refers to the explicit, static, one-way production of information or knowledge objects such as documents or in the case of the hybrid MOOC the images or hyperlinks of digital artefacts and videos. In the examples of the hybrid MOOC, the visual nature of the content attracted community members by providing immediate value. We also assume that it allowed visitors to deduce quickly what sort of topics were being covered and the level of the technology abilities within the member group, therefore allowing those observers to either act independently (by copying and replicating examples in their own classrooms) or by joining in. The content certainly motivated active participants to try different things.
Conversation refers to two-way face to face or online discussions (dialogue), which in the hybrid MOOC took place via the Google Hangouts (live streamed video conferences), Google Plus community posts and comments and the Twitter chats.
Connections refer to the interpersonal contacts between the community members which demonstrate some sort of relationship. In the hybrid MOOC these connections were demonstrated in the threads of comments on posts in the Google Plus community and Twitter chats.
Context refers to the information that enables the community members to assess how the information is relevant to them. Hoadley and Kilner propose that it is this context which creates the richness of detail and makes the information meaningful and memorable for the participants in a community. The examples from the hybrid MOOC demonstrate that the context in which the participants shared their artefacts added relevance and meaning to the content. The high proportion of visual images was a key factor, as so much could be gained from looking at the context offered rather than just reading what the participant had decided to share in their explanation.  
Purpose is the reason for which the members come together in the community relates to everything that occurs within a community. In the hybrid MOOC, the overall purpose was to share practice about using tablets in an educational setting, but the purpose varied for each participant.   

According to Hoadley and Kilner, all five elements work in partnership. The content provided the basis for conversation and allowed connections to develop. The various platforms used on the hybrid MOOC provided participants with a platform to share representations of their work in various media, which allowed conversation, connections and information from both participants and moderators to develop. The comments feature supported new connections through text, emojis and visuals.  Comments stated how friendly and supportive the community was and this helped participants to belong and continue to engage with the community. The social aspect of this Hybrid MOOC thus added to the depth of learning for those who have taken part.

Read more about knowledge sharing here: Online knowledge sharing mechanisms: a systematic review of the state of the art literature and recommendations for future research:


Hoadley, C.M. and Kilner, P.G., 2005. Using technology to transform communities of practice into knowledge-building communities. ACM SIGGROUP Bulletin, 25(1), pp.31-40.