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Community of Practice for Educators

Communities of Practice: definition, reason for its being, features, tools, limitation, successes

hwai mei chee

on 16 November 2012

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Transcript of Community of Practice for Educators

Why is there a need for
Community of Practice? Traditional training sessions do not take into account teachers' existing knowledge
Traditional training sessions are 'one-size-fit-all' presentation; not contextualized
No follow-up support for participants
Time consuming Definition: Community of Practice (CoP)
Educators But haven't we done it all along? Why the Need for a Name? Yes, we have done it all along!

However, when we give it a name, it helps us to see past formal structures such as organizations, classrooms, or nations.

It helps us to see the structures defined by CoP and the informal learning that comes with it. Community of Practice
the WAY
people learn and know! Communities of practice are formed by people who engage in a process of collective learning in a shared domain of human endeavor and engage in a process of collective learning that creates bonds between them. "Investing in professional learning is
the key to ensuring that schools become
learning communities where teachers work together, learn from each other and share best practice on effective teaching and learning." (Office of School Education, 2005) "It is only through the collective work of teachers and by creating a shared professional knowledge that sustained school improvement will be secured.” (Office of School Education, 2005) knowledge is situated in experience while experience is understood through critical reflection with others (Buysse, Sparkman &
Wesley 2003). Central Tenet of CoP knowing is a matter of active
engagement with the world
(Lave and Wenger 1991;
Wenger 1998). CoP contextualised learning for the teachers!

As teachers engage in communities of practice, teachers' beliefs and knowledge are influenced by the beliefs and values of that community (Jonassen and Land 2000). CoP develops around a certain activity or profession.

The shared professional identity
is the glue that binds the members
of a community together (Wenger, 1998). Lave and Wenger have originally argued that CoP EMERGED, and not something that could be ARTICFICIALLY CREATED (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1998).

However, as the concept grew, some authors advocate for the INTENTIONAL DESIGN of CoP.

Later, Wenger et al. (2002) changed his mind and when he published 'Cultivating Communities of Practice', he agreed that COP cannot be ‘created’, but can be NURTURED/ CULTIVATED. Mutual Engagment:
actions that members are engaged.
Members need to be included to
interact with the others.
Through engagement, members
negotiate meaning and learning
with each others. Joint Enterprise:
products which result from members’ negotiation of meanings. Shared Repertoire:
symbols or artifacts that
belong to the practices
of the community. Dimensions in COP Another element of CoP is Participation.
This includes observation & conversation
in the community. One more term to know: Reification.

This refers to the process
of concretizing our experience.
For e.g.: Handouts and Materials
that materialize out of
interaction in the CoP. There are three dimensions to CoP:
mutual engagement,
joint enterprise & shared repertoire. Both participation and reification interact with each other and generate a negotiation of meaning whereby learning occurs. Thus, a CoP is formed. If a person is a member of multiple CoPs, he is a Broker. He can introduce elements of one CoP to another and vice versa. He keeps a distance from the core of the community so as to hold a different perspective. He is a peripheral member. Boundary objects are artifacts such as books & documents around which members of the different CoP can organize their activities. Wenger said that organisations must learn to recognize the value of people who are in multiple CoPs and thus are able to be brokers across CoPs. Application There are seven design principles to CoP a)Design for evolution.
b)Open a dialogue between inside and outside perspectives.
c)Invite different levels of participation.
d)Develop both public and private community spaces. e)Focus on value.
f)Combine familiarity and excitement.
g)Create a rhythm for the community. However, CoP will not work
unless there is a proper socialization
phase so that people can
build up trust with one another! Borg (2012) identified several
facilitating factors that
enable CoP to flourish. However, she also discussed constraining factors that inhibit the growth of COP.

Of significance are the additional workload for teachers due to CoP; the threat of balkanization & concerns for CoP's sustainability Her research shows that for a successful CoP in school,
factors include:

1) Administrative Support for professional development opportunities
2) Leadership Support
3) Attributes of teachers who joined the CoP

This is however for a face-to-face CoP! Most common on-line facilities for COP includes:

A homepage
A conversation space for on-line discussions
A feature to float questions
A directory of membership with their expertise
An optional shared workspace for electronic collaboration or meeting
A document repository for knowledge base
A search engine to retrieve from knowledge base
Community management tools
The ability to disseminate information to all groups These tools must:
be easy to learn and use
integrate easily with common software that members of CoP are using in their regular work, so that members can participate in the CoP easily
not be too expensive. Therefore,

CoP should not be designed in VACUUM. It becomes problematic and unsustainable! (Schwen & Hara, 2004)

ICTs are not necessarily advantageous in nurturing online CoP

Online CoP has a tendency to be either successful or fail. However, not all online CoP succeed!

Factors for failure includes:
Online CoP has not been designed to support actual practice of profession

Inadequate attention to help participants develop trust to share personal practice and knowledge, eg Schwarz-Bechet, Bos-Wierda, and Barendsen (2012)'s Trans-atlantic Online CoP

Blogging does not seem to work! Kim, Miller, Herbert, Pedersen and Loving (2012) and Strycker (2012) have shown that online CoP for pre-service educators works!

Twitter and Wiki are some common CoPs platform! Other tools can be found @ http://cpsquare.org/wiki/Technology_for_Communities_project An example of Community for Educators to learn about Assessment In CoP, learning does not reside in the HEADS of the individuals, but in the NETWORK of RELATIONS that make up the CoP. CoP Was started
Etienne Wenger
& Jean Lave
in 1991. another is formed. and another is formed ..... and another ......... and many more ...... An example where CoP works in the Mining Industry! In School ..... Of importance are strong interpersonal relationships; opportunities for professional development & teacher's personal attributes. For Online CoPs, there are many tools to help with the implementation. Examples of Successful CoPs in Education:

Tapped in: http://tappedin.org/tappedin/
Classroom 2.0: http://www.classroom20.com Freeman and Johnson (2004) said that teachers’ professional learning is largely the result of participation in CoPs. It is also better than trawling the Internet for answer
since we are learning directly from someone who has had the
same/ similar problem previously. CoP 1 CoP 2 CoP 3 CoP 4 CoP 5 A CoP is made up of
CORE members
as well as
peripheral members! It is interesting to note
that online meeting has
been suggested for
face-to-face CoP in order to save time,
for eg in Akerson, Donnelly, Riggs, and Eastwood (2012). Yet, Schwarz-Bechet, Bos-Wierda and Barendsen (2012)'s trans-atlantic online study did not do well
because of a lack of face-to-face meeting which
fosters trust in the socialization process. Therefore, the conclusion seems
to be that there is no definite
prescription on how to make a CoP
It really does depend on the context,
the members, among other factors.
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