Virtual communities and professional learning across a distributed remote membership

Bradshaw, Pete; Gee, Alison and Powell, Stephen (2002). Virtual communities and professional learning across a distributed remote membership. In: Virtual Communities Conference, pre-conference worskhop, 12 Dec 2002, University of Navarra, Barcelona.



Headteachers, or Principals, of schools work in isolation from each other yet share common practice and domain of leadership and management. They exhibit the characteristics of a community of practice yet are remote from other members of their community. Similar communities of practice can be identified for other types of school leaders, subject co-ordinators for example, and for professionals in other disciplines – consultant registrars in health, optometrists working in dispensing opticians, museum curators, and so on.

This paper explores ways of using virtual communities to develop professional learning in these communities of practice. We discuss our work in the context of education and formal and informal learning communities of school leaders and explore how the lessons learnt have general application. We present a model for professional learning through online collaboration and communication, and look, in particular, at the concept of time and its effects in the virtual community.

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