Community of Practice or Networked Learning: A Matter of Design

Community of Practice or Networked Learning: A Matter of Design

Wendy Fasso
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-3978-2.ch014
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This chapter examines the case of an online teacher professional development community that was designed to facilitate both networked learning and whole-group activities in cyclical form to support the eventual formation of a Community of Practice over time beyond the facilitated episode. Participants completed activities with a group (collective) focus in a series of wikis, and activities supporting networked learning in discussion forums. The design of the tasks was intentional, with clear identification of the learning purpose and scaffolding to support desired outcomes. The participation and learning outcomes were evaluated using a range of qualitative and quantitative data collection methods. The framework of Dron and Anderson (2007) identifies the potential for both learning networks and a community of practice within a group of online learners. Using this framework, activities were intentionally designed in which the best elements of both were enabled.
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Defining Characteristics Of Communities Of Practice

Emerging from the work of Wenger (1998), the concept of community of practice has been drawn from its original face-to-face context and applied to the online environment. The two defining characteristics of a CoP are learning transactions within a shared domain and the support of relationships that enable mutual learning engagement (Ardichvilli & Westling, 2003; Wenger, 2007; Wenger & Snyder, 2000). Of great importance in developing relationships and sharing are mutual trust and individual identity (Wenger, 2009; Wenger, McDermott & Sneider, 2002).

It is the shared repertoire, mutual engagement and joint enterprise, with a clear identification of common ground, that sets a CoP apart from simple aggregations or networks of people (McDermott, 2000; Wenger, 2009), but which is not necessarily a given result of online activity (Schwen & Hara, 2003).

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