The purpose of this report is to address some of the expectations that attend the idea of ‘building’ a virtual learning community, to show how they arise and assess how realistic they are. The underlying question is whether a virtual learning community is simply a context in which distributed individuals learn together, or whether it can play a role in helping a wider community to improve its own practices. This is the second in a series of reports produced for the National College for School Leadership, aimed at exploring the concept of communities of practice and its relevance for the NCSL Networked Communities agenda. It is one in a series of reports produced for NCSL, providing overviews of the literature in two areas: communities of practice and teaching and learning online. The research has been funded by the National College for School Leadership, and the immediate purpose is to inform their development of networked communities.