Document Type


Publication Date



Virtual communities of Practice (VCoP) offer a flexible option for professional development that may be employed by geographically dispersed communities. Due to unique and dynamic operational demands and a reduced training budget, the United States Coast Guard’s (USCG) afloat community has limited opportunity for formal professional development, but alternative learning options have yet to be formally researched. This qualitative pilot study employed purposeful sampling to conduct 6 one-on-one interviews of afloat members with varying degrees of afloat experience and total time in service. The interviews were used to elucidate the knowledge-sharing culture of the afloat community, including the degree to which afloat members are willing to exchange knowledge and how trust, reciprocity, and disposition towards online learning influence this exchange. Interviews were digitally recorded and manually transcribed. Emergent themes included willingness and desire to share knowledge, concerns regarding service reputation, provisions for anonymity, and altruistic information exchange.

Copyright Statement

This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in TechTrends. The final authenticated version is available online at