Original Research

An investigation into possibilities for implementation of a virtual community of practice delivered via a mobile social network for rural community media in the Eastern Cape, South Africa

Oliva Muwanga-Zake, Marlien Herselman
SA Journal of Information Management | Vol 19, No 1 | a730 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajim.v19i1.730 | © 2017 Oliva Muwanga-Zake, Marlien Herselman | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 04 December 2015 | Published: 17 March 2017

About the author(s)

Oliva Muwanga-Zake, Department of Information Systems, University of Fort Hare, South Africa
Marlien Herselman, Department of Information Systems, University of Fort Hare, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of how a virtual community of practice can be delivered via a mobile social networking framework to support rural community media in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa.

Objectives: The article presents the results of a study conducted to ascertain the possibilities of utilising mobile social networking as a means to provide access to required information and knowledge to rural community media through creation of a virtual community of practice. Improving the operational effectiveness of rural community media as a component of the rural community communication process would serve to improve the entire rural community communication process as well, making them more effective tools for availing relevant news and information to rural communities and reflecting the realities of rural communities to their broader environment.

Method: The study was conducted on rural community media small micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs) in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. The study applied an interpretive research philosophy, qualitative research design and multiple–case study approach. Primary data were collected through semi-structured interviews supported by a questionnaire, with secondary data collected via literature review, observation and documentation analysis.

Results: Findings were that rural community media do make use of social media and mobile devices in operating their business, require access to generic and domain specific support services and actively engage their peers and stakeholders in this respect, although no formalised structure existed. The authors’ recommendation is to create a formalised virtual community of practice through the establishment of a mobile social network.

Conclusion: Because of the fact that rural community SMMEs already utilise mobile devices and social media to operate their businesses, development of a solution based on a mobile social networking platform could be a useful tool in providing support to these SMMEs.


Keywords

mobile social networking; virtual community of practice; rural community media

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