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Journal Article

Exploring Virtual Opportunities to Enhance and Promote an Emergent Community of Practice  pp261-270

Kathy Courtney

© Feb 2008 Volume 5 Issue 4, e-Learning in Health Care, Editor: Pam Moule, pp251 - 304

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This paper gives an account of an attempt by an educational developer to support and strengthen an emergent Community of Practice (CoP) (Wenger 1998a). This community consists of members of staff associated in different capacities with the Centre for Interprofessional e‑Learning (CIPeL), a Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL), based at Coventry University and Sheffield Hallam University. The support is specifically targeting CIPeL Secondees who are recruited to CIPeL on a part‑time basis, for the purpose of creating interprofessional Learning Objects (LOs). While Secondees receive individual support, there is little formal contact between Secondees. An online CIPeL Community site was created, in order to provide a space where CIPeL members could meet virtually and share problems and experiences relating to the construction of LOs. Initially, the key question appeared to be how online participation by members of the community could be encouraged. Using Wenger's (1998a) CoP theory of learning, and after exploring how the Community site was being used, the focus of attention shifts to an exploration of reified objects and the role they play in guiding practice, which in this case relates to the creation and use of interprofessional LOs. This in turns leads to the difficult question of how relevant reified objects may be identified and built, and it is advocated that existing CIPeL LOs should be exploited as reified objects for the purpose of guiding the construction of new LOs. It is felt that invoking constructs from Wenger's (1998a) CoP theory of learning has resulted in a more detailed picture of the nature of the challenges involved in moving from an emergent CoP to more established practice. The approach has simultaneously helped clarify how support for an emergent CoP might be more effectively focused. As a final point, it is suggested that it may be fruitful to explore parallels between CIPeL as an emergent CoP and interprofessional practice (IPP) itself, based on the view that IPP is also an emergent practice.


Keywords: Communities of practice, learning objects, interprofessional learning objects, Interprofessional Practice, community development support, Reified Objects


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Journal Issue

Volume 5 Issue 4, e-Learning in Health Care / Dec 2007  pp251‑304

Editor: Pam Moule

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E‑learning is viewed as one way to support the development of healthcare professionals, offering flexible access to materials which enable practitioners to meet life‑long learning agendas. As a consequence a number of health professionals and health care institutions are looking to technology to provide necessary education, training materials and opportunities for personal and professional development and growth. The growing impetus to develop and embrace e‑learning in health care led to the convening of a mini‑track at the 6th European Conference on E‑Learning (ECEL) held in Denmark in 2007 and to invitations to support this Special Edition of the journal.

The papers present current international developments in the sector and capture the range of engagement in e‑learning from the instructivist provision of information through to engaging students in constructivist learning online. A range of health care professions is also represented in the discussions, as are differing education levels, from undergraduate to post graduate students and practitioners. Mohammed, Waddington and Donnan describe the use of an Internet broadband link to stream a ‘real time’ workshop to physiotherapists, whilst Burgess presents the use of e‑learning in a Nurse Prescribing Programme as part of a blended learning approach. Learner engagement through interactive online packages is described by Gilchrist and Lockyer et al. The paper by Lockyer et al additionally explores issues of transferring e‑learning into practice and the potential effects on patient care, a much under‑researched area. Pulman presents the benefits and limitations of project Virtual Europe, case scenarios that encourage learners to construct their learning through evaluating different approaches to health care across Europe. The final paper by Courtney focuses on the use of e‑learning by lecturing staff in health care. The use of an online Community of Practice to support lecturers developing Learning Objects (LOs) is considered and discussions developed to consider the role of LOs in practice education.


Keywords: Box and whisker plot, Boxplots, cancer care, clinical education, Communities of Practice, community development support, Designated Medical Practitioner, educators, e-learning, evaluation, face-to-face, health education, interactions, intercultural, international, internet broadband, Interprofessional learning, interprofessional Learning Objects, Interprofessional Practice, Learning Objects, nurse prescribing, nursing education, qualitative research, real-time, Reified Objects, Reusable learning object, simulated community, telemedicine, videoconferencing, Virtual Europe, workplace learning


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