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APLU: Building Learning Communities Resource


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APLU Professional Learning Consortium
Faculty Active & Adaptive Learning Workshop
Louisville, KY
July 18, 2017

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APLU: Building Learning Communities Resource

  1. 1. 1 Faculty Workshop on Active + Adaptive Learning University of Louisville July 18-19, 2017 Building Learning Communities Laura A. Pasquini, Ph.D. ~ ​@laurapasquini​ ~ ​Website​ ~ ​ Resources: ​Slide deck​ and Digital Handout: ​ What is a Community of Practice? Launching a Community CoP Charter Template Leadership of a Community Technical Management Tip Sheet Readings In Advance Online Resources References What is a Community of Practice? Communities of Practice​ (CoP) is a group of people who share a common concern, a set of problems, or interest in a topic and who come together to fulfil both individual and group goals. CoPs often focus on sharing best practices and creating new knowledge to advance a domain of professional practice. Interaction on an ongoing basis is an important part of this. A community’s specific purpose and goals inform the appropriate activities and technologies that should support it. Although all CoPs are networks, in the sense, as they involve connections among members -- not all networks are communities of practice. A CoP entails a shared domain, such as the adaptive learning initiative, that becomes a source of identification. Communities and networks are often thought of as two different types of social structure. From this perspective, one would need to ask the question: given a group, is it a community or is it a network?
  2. 2. 2 Wenger-Trayner (2011) define a community and network as two aspects of social structuring​, which require different forms of developmental work: ● “The ​network​ aspect refers to the set of relationships, personal interactions, and connections among participants, viewed as a set of nodes and links, with its affordances for information flows and helpful linkages.” ● “The ​community​ aspect refers to the development of a shared identity around a topic that represents a collective intention—however tacit and distributed—to steward a domain of knowledge and to sustain learning about it.” Launching a Community Welcome! Thank you for joining this APLU-hosted dinner with your colleagues. Our goal in sponsoring today’s workshop, and in creating discipline-based professional learning communities, is to create an online forum for faculty to share best practices for using active and adaptive learning to support student success in blended and online learning environments. We ask that you spend some time this evening discussing the mission and guiding principles for your discipline’s professional learning community. Tomorrow morning we will ask each team to affirm a charter for the community. Key elements include: Preamble: ​Provide a brief statement of the community’s mission and vision. INQUIRE HINTS: ● Audience​: who is this community for? Who are the community’s important stakeholders? ● Domain​: Given the intended audience, what are the key issues and the nature of the learning, knowledge, and tasks that the community will steward? ● Purpose, Goals, and Outcomes:​ Given the audience and domain, what is this community’s primary purpose? What are the benefits to the stakeholders? What specific needs will the community be organized to meet? Name:​ ​Keep it simple. We may standardize the naming conventions across the communities.
  3. 3. 3 Manager: ​Recommend candidates. APLU will provide a small stipend for one community manager. Engagement Terms​: ​Discuss participation expectations for the community manager and members. Meetings:​ ​Consider desire for and schedule of any synchronous meetings (online or at conferences). Questions: ​Identify questions the community should consider following confirmation of the charter.
  4. 4. 4 CoP Charter Template Community of Practice (CoP) Charters, developed by each CoP or Community, include mission, scope, objectives, and other course-setting components needed by the group. This template gives you some ideas for the type of information you might want to include in yours – with the expectation that the needs of your CoP, and therefore the charter, may change over time. Community Name Keep it simple. We may standardize the naming conventions across the communities. Preamble Provide a brief statement of the community’s mission and vision. This may include: ● Community Purpose/Intent: ​Identify the purpose/intent of your community, e.g., a focus on documenting, sharing, and transferring best practices. ● Community Objectives: ​Identify the specific areas/issues that your community is interested in a addressing. ● Type of Community or Knowledge Area: ​Identify the discipline that best supports your community’s purpose. Community Manager Recommend candidates. APLU will provide a small stipend for one community manager. Please review the leadership roles listed below for further information on responsibility of single vs. shared leadership. This may include: ● ​Community Roles: ​Identify by name the individuals who are filling this specific manager role or if it will be shared. Engagement Terms Discuss participation expectations for the community manager and members. This may include: ● Community Purpose/Intent: ​Identify the purpose/intent of your community, e.g., a focus on documenting, sharing, and transferring best practices. ● Community Membership/Audience: ​Identify the discipline that your community is targeting or involved with for adaptive learning
  5. 5. 5 Meeting Schedule Consider desire for and schedule of any synchronous meetings (online or at conferences). Questions for Consideration Identify questions the community should consider following confirmation of the charter. This might include: ● Critical Issues:​ Identify the critical issues faced by your community, e.g., providing a forum for faculty to share tips and techniques ● Resources: ​Identify what is required to support your community, e.g., the resources that are available, support from contractors, any content that needs to be developed. ● Measures of Success: ​List a few important measures of success, e.g., sharing of learning objects, reduced time searching for pedagogical solutions, best practices adopted, etc. Discussion Prompts Share ideas for the community manager to use in fostering member engagement.
  6. 6. 6 Leadership of a Community According to Etienne Wenger, a key feature of successful CoPs is a “skillful and reputable coordinator”. Since CoP membership and leadership is voluntary, it is beneficial to divide responsibilities among members to reduce the workload of any one individual. ​Strong leadership is essential​ in the startup of any new CoP. In the beginning, two key roles should be filled: the Sponsor and the Leader. A strong sponsor is needed to support the vision and the process of the community and champion the community internally and externally. A strong leader nurtures the community from infancy and tackles the initial challenges, logistical and otherwise, encountered by the group. Single Leader Communities with a single leader have one point person to help organize the community. Within this structure this specific individual takes on the role in helping to support the facilitation of the CoP by building community and seeking out knowledge within the CoP. This single leader will be a appointed by the community; however, there may we room for evolving and emerging leadership and shared responsibilities within the group. Shared Leadership Another method for organizing a CoP might be to share leadership among a core group of within with the community. This shared leadership might be distributed between 2-3 people in the group. The roles and responsibilities of this core leadership team may emerge from interactions within the community or the core leadership group might choose to explicitly define these functions. As the CoPs will be distributed over a number of locations, the leader(s) should structure the following items to create a thriving, valuable community: ● Building, sustaining, and developing a distributed community; ● Defining and overseeing professional direction and standards; ● Soliciting for asset needs, information requests, and/or expertise to support the community; ● Coordinating and managing individuals and the group dynamics; ● Facilitating methods for ongoing community discussions/interactions; ● Informing, advising, or coaching members within the group; ● Documenting and curating both the process and projects; ● Mapping and identifying ways to share knowledge from community; ● Representing community members within and outside the organization; and ● Liaising with their community of colleagues, institutional faculty, and peers across their discipline. Community Manager (Leader): Guides the Community’s Purpose and Strategic Intent​—Community Leader likely “owns” the charter of the group. He or she may have ideas about what the goals of the group should be, how to reach them, and effectively engages others to collectively chart the CoP’s course. This person helps the group stay focused on its particular domain and helps provide solutions as issues arise. This role of Community Manager (Leader) could be a shared role (see above) to support internal and external needs for this learning community. He or she is highly motivated to ensure that the community succeeds and encourages member participation.
  7. 7. 7 This person champions the community’s successes and advocates for the community’s needs with perspectives, resources, developmental learning, and builds collaborative relationships among members. Each responsibility need not be assigned to a single individual and should be divided among several individuals. Here are some examples of potential responsibilities in a community: ❏ Knowledge Management​— Over time, the CoP will likely develop a large repository of information that needs to be managed. While this task may be small at first, it will grow in size with increasing responsibility for organizing and posting community documents (charter, agendas, meeting minutes, etc.) to help to shape the information into knowledge. ❏ Meeting Facilitation​— To ensure each member has a chance to speak, that meetings stay on track, and meeting goals are accomplished when facilitating during community meetings. ❏ Relationship Management​— As new members join a CoP, it is important they feel welcome and have the opportunity to meet other members. To strengthen these relationships, an established member should be responsible for making introductions and connecting members. ❏ Subject Matter Expertise​— The CoP is launched to address a particular domain within public health. To begin conversations on this topic, related topics and hot button issues should be identified, and experts who are able to contribute to the conversations brought in for discussion. ❏ Technology Management​— A crucial tool for a CoP is an easy-to-use, accessible means of communication. You may use an e-mail distribution list, or you may choose to use a message board. A member will need to be responsible for identifying the tool(s) your group will use, ensuring members have access, and confirming that the tools work as expected. ❏ Communication Management​— It is important to identify a community member who will manage effective distribution of the CoP’s messages externally, seeking ways to promote and share the knowledge products of the community. “The key to successful communities of practice is an appropriate leadership infrastructure that guides, supports and renews the community initiative over time. In every case we are familiar with, leadership is the most critical success factor for community participation and effectiveness.”
  8. 8. 8 Technical Management Tip Sheet For your Community you also need to help identify the right tools for your group, define account permissions and roles, and help develop collaboration rules to ensure everyone acts respectfully. Read this Tip Sheet for some ideas on how this can work within your Community. Since members of your Community are likely spread out geographically, you will need electronic mechanisms for communication. Since email is so prevalent and easy to use, it’s a great way to begin connecting the group. Telephone bridge lines are also widely available. As time goes on, your Community will likely identify other needs: ● Electronic document repository to hold work products and research ● A message board system or asynchronous communication method ● Web/phone conferencing tools or synchronous platform Initially the leaders and members may suggest tools to use and it’s likely that you will select several via trial and error. As your Community matures, your Technology Manager can drive the selection of tools that are ideal for your group. Types of Communication Communication can happen synchronously or asynchronously: ● Direct communication, where all parties involved in the communication are present at the same time (an event) is a form of synchronous communication. Examples include ○ A telephone conversation ○ A company board meeting ○ A chat room event ○ Instant messaging ● Asynchronous communication does not require that all parties involved in the communication need to be present and available at the same time. Examples of this include: ○ Email (the receiver does not have to be logged on when the sender sends the email message) ○ Discussion boards, which allow conversations to evolve and the community to develop over a period of time ○ Text messaging over cell phones
  9. 9. 9 The task of technical management deals with administration of communication and collaboration technologies. Those handling technical management responsibilities should possess a strong understanding of technology and have familiarity with a wide array of robust communication methods. Community Technical Managers work to ensure that all members of the Community are informed and connected to the work of the group. They ensure that employed technologies function properly and that all members understand how (and when) to use the tools available. Managing a Community’s Technology Needs Means… ● Working with the community to identify the type of tools necessary ● Setting up distribution lists or an announcement listserv for the community leaders to contact community members ● Managing discussion boards to ensure members are playing by the rules ● Ensuring that tools and resources are available to all members ● Coordinating web and teleconferences (and testing them beforehand to work out any kinks) Consider virtual teaming to stay connected and effectively collaborate from afar. Through effective management of a remote team and hosting semi-regular virtual meetings, you can to provide updates, share ideas, and seek support for your learning community projects/initiatives. Regular meetings allow members of your community to connect and communicate beyond emails or the listserv. To work with your team from afar, you will not only have to consider meeting but also managing your work. Whether you are collaborating on research, developing a presentation, organizing a program or planning a conference -- you should consider how you are going to virtually manage your learning community’s time and tasks. This “how to” resource will introduce you to tools and strategies to effectively share information and outline a few project management basics to help you collaborate more effectively from a distance:
  10. 10. 10 Readings In Advance Cambridge, D., Kaplan, S., & Suter, V. (2005). Community of Practice Design Guide: A Step-by-Step Guide for Designing & Cultivating Communities of Practice in Higher Education, Educause. Consultado a, 22. Retrieved from​ ​ Cox, M. D. (n.d.) Ten necessary qualities for building community. ​Faculty Learning Communities - Miami University​. Retrieved from​ ​ Veletsianos, G., & Kimmons, R. (2012). Networked participatory scholarship: Emergent techno-cultural pressures toward open and digital scholarship in online networks. ​Computers & Education, 58​(2), 766-774. Retrieved from​ ​ Pre-print version available at: Wenger, E., & Wenger-Trayor, B. (2015, April 15). Introduction to communities of practice. Retrieved from Wenger, E., McDermott, R., & Snyder, W. (2002, March 25). Cultivating Communities of Practice: A Guide to Managing Knowledge - Seven Principles for Cultivating Communities of Practice. ​HBS Working Knowledge - Harvard Business School​. Retrieved from Online Resources: ● CDC Communities of Practice/Communities for Public Health​ - Includes “Introduction to Communities of Practice”, “Launch and Sustain a Community of Practice”, “Evaluate”, “Glossary”, “References” and “Resources” as well as a very useful Communities of Practice Toolkit: ● Communities at USAID Technical Guidance ​​ - another helpful resource with templates and tools for launching and sustaining a Community of Practice ● Community of Practice (CoP) – from own to shared knowledge pdf​ This quick reference guide has some helpful tips and a quick assessment tool (Does your CoP pass the fitness test?) ● Cultivating communities of practice: a quick start-up guide by Etienne Wenger rt-up-guide.pdf ● Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation Learning & Networking – CoP e ● Using Emergence to Take Social Innovations to Scale by Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze​ (great article about networks) ● Communities of practice: linking knowledge, policy and practice by Simon Hearn and Nancy White ​
  11. 11. 11 References Bower, M. (2015, February 27). A typology of Web 2.0 learning technologies. ​EDUCAUSE​. Retrieved from: ​​ [or PDF:​] Cox, M. D. (2004). Introduction to faculty learning communities. ​New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2004​(97), 5-23. Hart, J. (2015). The difference between social learning and social collaboration ​Internet Time Alliance​. Retrieved from ollaboration/ Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: Learning as network-creation. ASTD Learning News, 10(1), 1-28. Retrieved from: ​ Tobin, D. R. (1998). Building your personal learning network. ​Corporate Learning Strategies​. Retrieved from ​ Trust, T., Carpenter, J. P., & Krutka, D. G. (2017). Moving beyond silos: professional learning networks in higher education. ​The Internet and Higher Education, 35, ​1-11. Webber, E. (2016). ​Building successful communities of practice: Discover how connecting people makes better organisations​. London, UK: Drew London Ltd. Wenger, E., McDermott, R. A., & Snyder, W. (2002). ​Cultivating communities of practice: A guide to managing knowledge​. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Press. Wenger, E. (1999). ​Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity​. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.