Building a Virtual Community of Practice: A Plan for Implementing an Online Community of Practice within the Greater San Diego Mathematics Council

This paper documents the creation of a virtual community of practice for mathematics educators in San Diego County. In connection with the Greater San Diego Mathematics Council, the Greater San Diego Math Educators Network (GSDMEN) was designed to provide educators with opportunities to collaborate in an online setting. This online community was designed based on recommendations from literature related to elements of effective professional development and design of online communities. The key design elements that emerged from the literature were: defining the audience, purpose and benefits of membership; determine potential topics and tasks to be addressed; and establish guidelines for participation. GSDMEN was designed using the online community-building platform Ning. This paper focuses on that design process only; results based on interactions in the virtual community of practice are not included here. The Greater San Diego Math Educators Network, and the contents of this paper, could serve as a model for the creation of similar online communities of educators.