Virtual communities of practice in simulation-based healthcare education: participation factors and content value assessment
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This study is the first known formative analysis of simulation-based healthcare education virtual communities of practice (VCoPs). The goal of this study was to analyse the frequency of participation, factors that influence participation, and strategies used to assess the value and credibility of content in simulation-based healthcare education VCoPs. A sequential mixed-methods approach was used to assess participation and content assessment factors for a sample of 100 online survey respondents and five semi-structured interviews. Participation frequency was directly observed in 11 simulation-based education VCoPs for a one-year period between September 1, 2014 and August 31, 2015. Simulation-based healthcare education VCoPs that were hosted on LinkedIn had poor user engagement compared to VCoPs hosted as independent discussion forums. Qualitative analysis suggested that the perceived unmoderated and commercial nature of LinkedIn VCoPs may have driven low participation rates. Factors that were empirically associated with community participation rates included platform ease of use, trust in the community, direct and indirect personal benefits, self-efficacy and psychological safety. In this study, VCoPs participants rarely engaged in a systematic process of content credibility and value assessment. Rather, heuristic shortcuts were leveraged to assess content, including reputation, enforcement, self-confirmation, expectancy violation, and persuasive intent.