Developing a Community of Practice to Support Academics Engaging in Distributed Scholarship

Perry, R. and Robson, L. (2017). Developing a Community of Practice to Support Academics Engaging in Distributed Scholarship. In: Proceedings of the 11th International Technology, Education and Development Conference, IATED pp. 2272–2281.



We coin the term ‘distributed scholarship’ to describe scholarship conducted by academic staff outside their institution’s principle physical location. Distributed working is becoming increasingly common (Chatterton and Goddard, 2000). Whilst this way of working may provide autonomy and flexibility for distributed academics, a distinct disadvantage is of working in isolation where there may be missed opportunities for collaboration and sharing of knowledge or expertise, particularly when engaging in scholarship (McKinney 2006, McKinney 2012).

The SHARE project was set up at the Open University to address these issues. In the first instance it was able to determine the level and type of scholarship being conducted by distributed academics through a cross-faculty survey. These findings led the SHARE project to develop a community of practice, both online and face to face, for knowledge exchange, and providing opportunities for peer-to-peer networking. In building a community of practice for distributed scholarship the ‘joining up’ of scholarship activities can be of benefit to both the individual and institution as a whole.

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