Social Media Messaging and Engagement with Paleontology in an Online Community of Practice

Document Type

Conference Paper

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Annual International Conference for the National Association for Research in Science Teaching


Baltimore, MD

Publication Date



Throughout the U.S., fossil clubs host meetings, attend field trips, conduct outreach, and use the Internet to learn about paleontology. In their Internet use, these fossil clubs communicate on social media to facilitate discussion within their groups and among other groups, discussing the fossils found on field trips as well as provide their thoughts on social media posts about paleontology. The FOSSIL Project has actively been uniting fossil clubs throughout the United States to create a Community of Practice (CoP). This networked CoP will “collaborate in blended learning, the practice of science, and outreach” (Crippen et al. 2014). Building on previous research presented at NARST 2014 (Crippen et al. 2014), this study defines a specific component of the FOSSIL Project’s Community of Practice: social media. While the fossil clubs engage in communication on their unique social media pages, the FOSSIL Project seeks to understand cross-group communication occurring on social media through the FOSSIL Project’s social media pages, more specifically, the FOSSIL Project’s Facebook page. This study uses the discourse of the FOSSIL Project’s Facebook followers as well as decriptive statistics to understand the ways in which amateur and professional paleontologists engage on social media.

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