M.T. Villalba de Benito, G. Ferrari, M.C. Gaya, E. Gómez

Universidad Europea de Madrid (SPAIN)
Our experience in virtual environments and our interest to improve as online teachers, content authors, managers or editors led us to research new training methods. The methodology should have fulfill several requirements, including the possibility to globalize information from all the academic channels involved to obtain a standardized final result, coherent and enriched with the different points of view of the participants.

As a result of this research the Communities of practice presented here came up. The objective of this article is to describe the experience and transformation as teachers through the application of the methodology action-research to build knowledge specialized on online collaborative teaching methods through Virtual Communities of practice.
Taking as starting point the will of a group of teachers to improve their practice in virtual environments, and being aware that is required to adapting on-ground teaching strategies to online, it was chosen the research-action methodology as it was the most suitable to have a bear on this kind of changes.

Moreover, the matter “How do we learn?” puts special emphasis on “learning together”, moving from a classic concept of learning to a new more participatory one based on learning by doing in communities.
Nowadays, these ways of learning are being implemented in virtual communities of practices in higher online education with success in different Universities.
Based on these approaches, we have developed a research action process with a group of teachers from virtual environments invited to a Community of Practice about online teaching-learning methods. This article is about the construction and transformation of this Community, its internal organisation, and it will be list some guidelines and good practices for the proper functioning of communnities of practices in this environments according to the experiences the research team had during the work, in order to be applied in other environments.
Since the methodology was action research, we will deal with the transformation from on-ground to online teaching. Moreover, the knowledge shared by the teachers of the Community of practice lead into the creation of new techniques that were put in practice in the classroom that have been shared afterwards with the rest of the teachers, and improved with the collaboration of all of them.

Different types of collaboration and learning will be analized, as well as the effects of them on the implementation of new teaching methodologies in virtual environments and on the implementation of new technologies used in the classroom. These experiences have highlighted some difficulties that have led to the request several reasearch projects to study new ways to solve them.