The impact of visual posts on creative thinking and knowledge building in an online community of educators

Helen Caldwell, Rebecca Heaton, Emma Whewell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents data from an Erasmus + project entitled Digital Leaders Across Boundaries (DLAB) to suggest ways learning is facilitated by engagement with collaborative online tools, and specifically through the use of creative visual posts. The DLAB project that informs this paper invited academics, teachers and students from four European countries to work together on a three-year project. The first year, which the data from this article refers to, focused on the theme of Technology Outdoors and resulted in three intellectual outputs, a four-week Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), a creative online community and a project website. This paper focuses on the online community, and demonstrates how the visual nature of the online community posts aided creative thinking and provided a hook for community members to adapt, develop and repurpose ideas. Using a visual ethnographic approach, the content of creative visual posts in the online community were tracked and coded to elicit how connections spread. This analytic process revealed observable ways in which ideas were developed and disseminated online. The paper findings exemplify, by exposing idea mapping, how the most effective posts allowed ideas to evolve by drawing relationships between creative outputs, participant thinking, learning cultures and practice. Sharing ideas facilitated creative thinking and collective knowledge building in the online community as the participants’ posts amplified the ideas seeded in the original MOOC content. The findings suggest that it would be beneficial for learning designers and educators to understand these processes in social online communities so as to nurture creativity within them.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100647
Number of pages14
JournalThinking Skills and Creativity
Early online date5 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • Creativity
  • Collective Thinking
  • Knowledge Building
  • Online Communities of Practice
  • Technology
  • Visual ethnography
  • Creative Thinking


Dive into the research topics of 'The impact of visual posts on creative thinking and knowledge building in an online community of educators'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this