Emerging from the third space chrysalis: experiences in a collaborative, non-hierarchical community of practice.

Ian Johnson*, Ed Bickle, Silvina Bishopp-Martin, Ursula Canton, Paul Chin, Ralitsa Kantcheva, Jane Nodder, Victoria Rafferty, Karen Welton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article discusses the creation of a research-focused virtual community of practice (vCoP) for geographically-dispersed third space professionals, motivated by desires for enhanced professional collaboration, visibility and identity. The authors used collaborative autoethnography (CAE) to evaluate their personal reflections as vCoP participants. Data were gathered in two collaborative writing activities and analysed using thematic analysis (TA). The TA identified two connected themes, which capture the vCoP members’ aspirations to transcend their current roles and be research-active through connecting with like-minded professionals. Collaborative writing activities, including authoring this paper, cultivated elements of academic identity such as independence and purpose. A non-hierarchical and supportive vCoP environment allowed the members to work beyond time and institutional constraints to foster the evolution of the community and an emerging sense of professional identity beyond that typically associated with third space roles. The paper offers a model of collaboration that could help groups in similar situations.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of University Teaching and Learning Practice
Issue number5
Publication statusAccepted for publication - 6 Jul 2021


  • Third Space
  • professional identity
  • professional culture
  • communities of practice
  • virtual communities
  • Learning Development


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