Leadership through Communities of Practice (CoP): Supporting Faculty Development and Student Success through Virtual CoPs

Concurrent Session 5

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Grow your community of practice (CoP) and watch it flourish by applying our unique, innovative, hands-on approach to the creation, facilitation, and maintenance of institutionally-sponsored virtual communities of practice (vCoP). Our collaborative structure is designed to continuously support faculty development and student success in online programs.

Sponsored By


Dr. Julie Golden serves as Associate Director of eLearning and Professional Development at the FAU Center for eLearning. Julie is responsible for leading the instructional design team in their partnerships with faculty subject matter experts for the development of online courses. Julie's passion is the establishment and facilitation of the FAU eLearning Community of Practice (CoP) which provides a foundation for ongoing faculty training and professional development. Currently, the Center for eLearning is implementing student learning virtual communities of practice (vCoPs) for fully online programs and developing formalized training for CoP facilitation.

Extended Abstract

Accelerate leadership and build community at your institution through virtual communities of practice (vCoPs). Florida Atlantic University is launching a pilot of vCoPs to support social learning, identity building, and engagement within online programs. This innovative two-pronged approach includes student-centered and faculty-centered vCoPs across a variety of disciplines. Utilizing the Appreciative Administration framework, the National Association of College and Employers (NACE) Career Readiness competencies, and the Values Creation Cycles (Wenger, Traynor & De Laat, 2011) as a foundation for this initiative provides a unique lens into vCoPs. The initiative is designed to cultivate leadership, collaboration, and innovation through evidence-based practices focused on student learning and success as well as faculty professional development. The impact of this initiative is widespread across the university system and provides the opportunity to encourage connection, jump-start motivation, and facilitate rich interaction at the student and faculty levels within online programs. Using the university's learning management system and web-conferencing tools makes this initiative easily replicable at any institution to cultivate a culture of inclusion, professional development, discipline, and identity. Overall this initiative is intended to promote persistence, retention, and commitment for students and faculty across the institution. This replicable approach to leadership and innovation using vCoPs within programs has the ability to make a lasting, enriching impact on online learning.

The session begins with the discussion of the theoretical framework and research foundations for the development of vCoPs in online programs. The session will then discuss practical and applicable techniques for analysis, design, and development of vCoPs as well as planned implementation and evaluation protocols developed to adapt to the evolving nature of vCoPs. Participants will divide into small groups to use interactive handouts, such as a vCoP development guide, tips & tricks, and FAQ’s in order begin to analyze their institution's needs, develop their theoretical framework, and create SMART goals as they relate to the formation of vCoPs at their institution.

Wenger, E., Trayner, B., & De Laat, M. (2011). Promoting and assessing value creation in communities and networks: A conceptual framework.