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Real and Virtual Communities of Practice: A Case Study from the Outer Hebrides

  • Simon Bradley
  • Anna Wendy StevensonEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

This case study focuses on the impact of and opportunities arising from the presence of the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) on the remote rural Scottish islands known as the Outer Hebrides. Between 2001 and 2019, the University music courses delivered from these islands have undergone multiple transitions. This has necessitated adaptation from the communities of practice—academic, student, wider located and virtual. In addition, the local non-academic community has had to adapt, as the music courses have been linked, since their inception, to important community initiatives closely related to cultural identity. Since 2012, the UHI BA Applied Music degree (BAAM) has been delivered from this Island base, although it is networked throughout the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. This is achieved through video conference and online technologies and in partnership with other colleges, creating ‘virtual’ communities of practice in a Blended Learning delivery model.

Reflections on resilience have been enabled by detailing the transition of this delivery over nearly 20 years from the exclusively ‘real’ (face to face) to the development and addition of virtual and distributed communities of practice. Of particular importance has been the difficulty of conveying this transition to the surrounding host community, revealing the significant complexity of multiple and differing speeds and levels of change.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lews Castle College UHILionacleit, Isle of Benbecula, Outer HebridesUK

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