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This chapter presents the results from research and experience in the field of Higher Education (HE) academic development in the Republic of Ireland. The objective of this chapter is to discuss an exploration of how a Problem-based Learning Virtual Community of Practice (vCoP) was developed and supported within the context of academic development. The chapter is based upon the notion of 'community' - a group of academic staff in HE with a shared interest in designing e-learning courses - and the use of problem-based learning (PBL) as a pedagogical approach supported by learning technologies. As the development and availability of online tools for communication has led to an associated rise in the concept of an online community, inherent in this is a discussion of the consideration of suitable technologies and media choices available. The chapter will describe a case study in which virtual problem-based learning as a Virtual Community of Practice was implemented in a professional development module for academic staff. It is hoped that through an exploration of the work that has occurred on Virtual Communities of Practice, the experiences shared through this chapter will shed further light on what academics can do when faced with developing virtual communities in the future.
Donnelly, R. (2008) Virtual Problem-based Learning Communities of Practice for Teachers and Teacher Educators: An Irish Higher Education Perspective. in C. Kimble & P. Hildreth (Eds.), Communities of Practice: Creating Learning Environments for Educators. Vol. 2. Information Age Publishing, Charlotte, N.C: USA.