The conference on “Communities of Practice and Continuing Education in Healthcare” can be placed within the wider framework of an educational project that began in 2007 with a collaboration between the Department for Heath Policy of the Autonomous Province of Trento and the University of Trento.

The project on eLearning education for those responsible for the training of  healthcare workers and assistants, eLFOSS (, has as its starting point the recognition that the new generation of educators will look to information and communication technologies not simply as instruments to improve training and education, but ones that make it easier for educators to refocus their attention on substantive learning. The principal aim of the project is to offer agencies responsible for training health care workers and assistants the opportunity to deliver training and professional development courses online (or better yet, blended) for professionals in the field who, for professional reasons and because they are geographically dispersed, cannot attend classes in person; furthermore, the aim is to create a community of practice amongst the educators in the region.

The topic of eLearning is one that educators can no longer ignore, primarily because it makes learning more flexible and makes better use of contact time. Nonetheless, the tendency is to see it simply as putting onto the Internet that which takes place in the classroom. On the contrary, consideration has to be increasingly given to the ways in which people can collaborate, discover and participate in online communities, explore resources and ideas, and learn effectively by exploiting the potential of the Internet and the opportunities it affords in the construction of relationships and knowledge. Education planners and moderators of online communities need to start asking which path a project of online learning should take, what are the skills necessary to motivate students, to guide and support them at the pace set by online interaction.

Along these lines, the conference seeks to provide an opportunity to both present and discuss the data from the eLFOSS project, and to be a starting point to stimulate the fledgling community of practice for eLearning education for healthcare workers and assistants in Trentino. The keynote international speaker will be Etiénne Wenger, one of the world’s leading experts on communities of practice and situated learning. He is the author of  “Communities of practice. Learning, meaning and identity” (1998) and co-author of  “Cultivating communities of practice” (2002).