Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Title

Proceedings of the TCC Worldwide Online Conference







Conference Name

17th Annual TCC Worldwide Online Conference


The growth of distance education warrants a closer look at how virtual communities of practice form in asynchronous online classrooms. Prior studies have sought to identify a process to virtual community formation, which may vary depending upon the media used for collaboration. This microstudy examines how one student group in a distance writing course used the popular social media site Facebook to construct community and whether the stages of virtual community development were observed in this setting. Findings suggest that revisions might be made to our current understanding of the process of building virtual community within small groups. “Othering” and social norming should be considered as an important step in the group’s progress toward a co-identity and knowledge-sharing community. The construction of social norms is so important to group co-identity that it transgresses the established norms of communicating through Facebook. Further, the use of a social media site for group communication may encourage social interaction and cyber-play among the group, to either the detriment of work-related discourse or benefit of friendship-making. Further, the process of virtual community formation is largely iterative where the quality of discourse depends on the nature of group tasks rather than time.

Original Publication Citation

Tucker, V. (2012). Facebooking in distance education: Constructing virtual communities of practice. Paper presented at the 17th Annual TCC Worldwide Online Conference, Hawaii.