Virtual University Think Tank: A Mixed-methods, Inductive, Exploratory Analysis


  • Lora Reed Ashford University
  • Alan Swank Ashford University
  • Maja Zelihic Ashford University


This paper builds on the knowledge base from, among other things, a presentation made at UNMMI in 2014 and on findings presented at UNMMI in 2015. The study relies on research gleaned from a virtual collegial think tank developed as a means of establishing and sustaining community and develop-mental networks among faculty at a large online university. The research examined demonstrates the effectiveness of an existing mentoring program. Social based knowledge manage-ment, inclusive of mentoring, is examined in the context of a virtual faculty community. Bandura’s (1977) theory of social learning, Kolb’s (1984) experiential learning theory, and Bon-well and Eison’s (1991) active learning are considered as theo-retical foundation on which mentoring and relationships are examined. Best practices for mentoring and relationship build-ing are considered with emphasis on their impacts on creativity and innovation in high tech organizations. Findings of a recent study are considered. The paper concludes with a brief analy-sis of methodological limitations and discussion of directions for future research.