Forbes school of business think tanks exploring teaching, learning & relationship building in a virtual learning community

Bill Davis, Maja Zelihic, Alan Swank


This paper describes ongoing research based on a university faculty Think Tank as a means of establishing and sustaining developmental networks among faculty at a large online university.  Specifically, the paper explores the Think Tank as a virtual learning community wherein faculty have shared knowledge and enjoyed personalized learning opportunities for a period of over two years.  Approximately 100 faculty members are typically invited to participate in the virtual learning community which meets formally every two weeks (with some summer months off).  Between meetings, faculty have developed relationships including multi-directional mentoring and   The paper will consider if and how participation in the Think Tank has served faculty and/or why other faculty members who are invited do not choose to participate in the Think Tank. First, the paper describes the Think Tank as a virtual learning community.  Specifically, it sets the ground rules that have enabled the community to thrive in a virtual and egalitarian climate.  Then, multi-directional mentoring as a means of knowledge sharing in the think tank is explored.  Bandura’s social learning theory and Kolb’s experiential learning model provide the conceptual framework for relationship building in this collegial environment.  Next, the research questions that have been posed are shared.  Data collection for this study is currently in process; therefore findings are not yet available.  Finally, study limitations are briefly discussed and future directions for research are explored.

Palabras clave

Collaboration, Learning community, Faculty engagement, Online Relationship Building, Online community, Multidirectional mentoring relationships

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