Information Technologies (IT) seem to be affecting individuals and organizations’ communication and behaviors since many years now. This chapter is about understanding the possible impact of IT on the process of individual learning in a community of practice; in other words the authors wonder if those technologies can possibly help increasing individual competencies in order to improve their learning. They will specifically compare communication in two IT (the email and the web forum) by using agentbased simulation. Results show that each technology has a different impact on individual learning and that communication through emails appear to make individuals learn slower than on a Web forum. Conclusions are widely discussed.
Literature Background: Communities Of Practice (Cop) And Learning
This notion appeared for the first time in the early 1990’s, in the work of Lave and Wenger (1991). A CoP is seen as one of the most efficient concepts to study the process of knowledge sharing in groups (Lave and Wenger, 1991; Brown and Duguid, 2000; Lesser and Storck, 2001). A community of practice (CoP) is defined as an informal network composed of agents working together in the development of a common practice (Lesser and Storck, 2001). They interact and exchange knowledge and ideas and build a common repertoire of representations. According to Wenger (1998), a CoP’s definition is based on three major points:
Key Terms in this Chapter
Agent-Based Modeling (ABM): Is a bottom approach which enables the researcher to study complex systems and emerging properties.
Community of Practice (CoP): An informal emerging group of people working together toward the development of a common practice.
Individual Learning: A process by which an individual increase its knowledge.
Knowledge-Seekers: Individuals whose aim is to acquire now knowledge.
Knowledge-Providers: Individuals who can be considered as sources of knowledge.
Network: A collection of individuals (nodes) interacting together, and linked by a set of relations (links).
Knowledge Transfer: A process by which knowledge is transmitted from one individual to another.