Online learning: How a course for front line managers became a virtual community of practice
Keywords:virtual community of practice, constructivist learning
Tertiary educators in allied health, human service and social work face the challenge of integrating academic courses with workplace realities. This paper describes how interactive processes between participants in an online graduate course for frontline managers contri- buted to the creation of a virtual community of practice bridging the academic– workplace divide. Participants built a community of practice as they engaged in constructivist learning in a place of online safety. The paper identifies the benefits of, barriers to, and critical success factors for, a virtual community of practice (Gannon-Leary and Fontainha 2007). Complex adaptive leadership actions required to successfully develop a virtual community are consid- ered. The paper concludes that combining online and face-to-face elements provide the optimal opportunity for a functioning community of practice.
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