Introduction to Communities of Practice


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Presentation to Aqua-tnet working group on innovation in education - Lisbon, May 2009

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Introduction to Communities of Practice

  1. 1. Workpackage 5 Communities of Practice An introduction – John Bostock May 2009 Aqua-Tnet Meeting, Lisbon
  2. 2. Key source - Etienne Wenger May 2009 Aqua-Tnet Meeting, Lisbon
  3. 3. Definition May 2009 Aqua-Tnet Meeting, Lisbon <ul><li>Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>CoP are defined by three key characteristics: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Domain </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Community </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Practice </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul>
  4. 4. Domains Communities of Interest have an identity defined by a shared domain of interest.   Membership implies a commitment to the domain, and therefore a shared competence that distinguishes members from other people. May 2009 Aqua-Tnet Meeting, Lisbon
  5. 5. Communities In pursuing their interest in their domain, members engage in joint activities and discussions, help each other, and share information. They build relationships that enable them to learn from each other. May 2009 Aqua-Tnet Meeting, Lisbon
  6. 6. Practice Members of a community of practice are practitioners.   They develop a shared repertoire of resources: experiences, stories, tools, ways of addressing recurring problems, in short a shared practice.    This takes time and sustained interaction. May 2009 Aqua-Tnet Meeting, Lisbon
  7. 7. Typical activities May 2009 Aqua-Tnet Meeting, Lisbon <ul><ul><li>Problem solving </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Requests for information </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Seeking experience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reusing assets </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Coordination and synergy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Discussing developments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Documentation projects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Visits </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mapping knowledge and identifying gaps </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. What are the implications of CoP for different structural entities? <ul><ul><li>Organisations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Government </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Education </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Associations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>International Development </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Society </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Web </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul>May 2009 Aqua-Tnet Meeting, Lisbon
  9. 9. Perspectives on education <ul><li>In the education sector, learning is not only a means to an end: it the end product. The perspective of communities of practice affects educational practices along three dimensions: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Internally : How to organize educational experiences that ground college learning in practice through participation in communities around subject matters? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Externally : How to connect the experience of students to actual practice through peripheral forms of participation in broader communities beyond the walls of the college? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Over the lifetime of students : How to serve the lifelong learning needs of students by organizing communities of practice focused on topics of continuing interest to students beyond the initial schooling period? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul>May 2009 Aqua-Tnet Meeting, Lisbon
  10. 10. Part of lifelong learning From the CoP perspective, the school/college is not the privileged locus of learning. It is not a self-contained, closed world in which students acquire knowledge to be applied outside, but a part of a broader learning system.    The class is not the primary learning event. It is life itself that is the main learning event. Colleges, schools, classrooms, and training sessions still have a role to play in this vision, but they have to be in the service of the learning that happens in the world.   May 2009 Aqua-Tnet Meeting, Lisbon
  11. 11. Questions <ul><ul><li>Can we identify active Communities of Practice in our experience? Are we part of a CoP? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How can Communities of Practice be used within the higher education sector? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can Communities of Practice span both educational and other types of organisation? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Are Communities of Practice a potential model for integrated life-long learning? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul>May 2009 Aqua-Tnet Meeting, Lisbon
  12. 12. Reference sources   October 2007 Aqua-Tnet Meeting, Gent
  13. 13. Example communities of practice May 2009 Aqua-Tnet Meeting, Lisbon