Together in electric dreams: Inventing an online asynchronous Community of Practice for Learning Developers working with health students




community of practice, digital learning, ontinuing professional development, online learning


The creation of a virtual community of practice (vCOP) is a way to bring Learning Developers in different institutions together to create opportunities for collaboration and a sense of community which may help educators to overcome a sense of isolation as well as limited time and resources (Yarris et al., 2019). The development of LDHealthCOP (Learning Developers Health Community of Practice) unintentionally aligned with Wenger’s (2000) social definition of learning and three modes of belonging: engagement, imagination, and alignment. The group formed to explore how to improve Learning Development (LD) practice for Health students at our institutions. Students on health programmes are often from ‘under-represented’ and ‘non-traditional’ groups which pose particular challenges. It has a crowd sourced co-created programme of monthly talks and activities where practitioners pose each other topic questions to enable discussion and share ideas or resources. Using technology to gather together and ‘connect over their craft’ (Yarris et al., 2019) enables members to transcend the boundaries of space and time allowing members to ‘meet’ when and where they are, creating a unique sense of flexibility (Knapp, 1998 cited in Valenti and Sutton, 2020).

This session shared how the vCOP has been developed, linking theory with practice to address the specific challenges faced by Health Care students.  The following themes were covered at the session:

  • Areas of exploration or challenge for a Health and Social Care vCOP.
  • Methods of engagement with the vCOP, including demonstration of collaborative Padlet resources.
  • Reflection on the benefits and pitfalls of sharing knowledge and experience asynchronously.
  • Participants gained an insight into the workings of a vCOP which may inspire them to: join us, join another ALDinHE community of practice or create their own.

Author Biographies

Anne-Marie Langford, University of Northampton

For the last 20 years Anne-Marie Langford has been working in Heritage Education as a teacher, practitioner and manager in settings such as historic houses, museums and archives.  She developed learning resources and sessions on a range of subjects including Art History, Black History, Computer Science, Social History and STEM. Prior to this she taught English as a Foreign Language. In 2021, I became a Learning Development Tutor which has enabled her to explore my interest in learning resource and session development in new contexts.  Her current areas of interest are cultures and critical thinking and digital co-creation.

Karen Hudson , University of Essex

Karen Hudson is the Learning Development Tutor for the School of Health and Social Care (Nursing Division) at the University of Essex. In this role, she supports students on pre-registration Nursing degree programmes, including Nursing Degree and Higher Apprenticeship pathways, to develop their academic and clinical numeracy skills. She has a particular interest in demystifying academic practices and conventions and making these accessible for diverse student cohorts on programmes with extensive placement and professional requirements.


Lowe, T., (2020) Are community and Covid-19 mutually exclusive? Wonkhe (Online), 12th June 2020. Available at:

Valenti, S., Sutton, S., (2020) Strengthening Virtual Communities of Practice vCOPs: An Evidence-Based Approach Journal of Education for Library and Information Science 61(1) Available from DOI:

Wenger E. Communities of practice: learning as a social system. Syst Thinker. 1998;9(5):2–3.

Yarris, L., Chan, T., Gottlieb, M., Miller Juve, A., (2019) Finding Your People in the Digital Age: Virtual Communities of Practice to Promote Education Scholarship Journal of Graduate Medical Education




How to Cite

Langford, A.-M. and Hudson , K. . (2023) “Together in electric dreams: Inventing an online asynchronous Community of Practice for Learning Developers working with health students”, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (29). doi: 10.47408/jldhe.vi29.1089.

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