Implications of a Virtual Learning Community Model for Designing Distributed Communities of Practice in Higher Education

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Implications of a Virtual Learning Community Model for Designing Distributed Communities of Practice in Higher EducationRichard A. Schwier and Ben K. Daniel Virtual Learning Community Research Laboratory Educational Communications and Technology University of Saskatchewan Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Canada S7N 0K1 richard.schwier@usask.ca ben.daniel@usask.ca (306) 966-7641This research was supported by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of CanadaAbstractThe metaphor of virtual learning communities can be used to inform the design of distributed communities of practice in higher education learning environments. In this chapter, constituent elements drawn from a model of virtual learning communities are presented. These elements are elaborated to provide advice to instructors, instructional designers, researchers, and community architects, including how to enhance trust, a sense of history, identity, mutuality, plurality, autonomy, participation, trajectory, technology, learning, reflection, intensity, social engagement, and communication. The chapterconcludes with a discussion of fundamental elements of virtual learning communities that have direct relevance to the design of distributed communities of practice in higher education.

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