Creating a Community of Practice in Learning

Creating a Community of Practice in Learning

Ebenezer Uy (De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde, Philippines) and Eusebio Yu (De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde, Philippines)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-7262-8.ch012
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Abstract

Social media plays a huge part in Filipinos' lives. In the area of learning, the proponents observed the emergence of an online community of practice using Facebook groups that has over 350 members. The aim of the chapter is to answer the question: How do online communities of practice engage students to learn and build new knowledge? The objective is to propose a framework that will guide readers to build their own online community of practice based on its learning context. To achieve the objective, the proponents use the inductive approach of grounded theory using action research. Results show that community members used different Facebook features to support their ongoing community of practice. Further studies may also assess the applicability of the framework in other areas of development.
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Communities of Practice

Every year, corporations spend millions of dollars on training and educating their employees. According to the American Society for Training and Development, these corporations spend approximately one thousand dollars per employee per year in 2005. The investment in training and education stems from the current trend that businesses are continuing to stay on the cutting-edge to maintain their competitive advantage over other organizations. Given that knowledge-based organizations will continue to be the driving force of economy, it is essential for organizations to support the knowledge and information needs of their workers (Hara, 2009).

In the past, professional development was discussed within the context of traditional learning. However, traditional learning methods have been criticized for focusing on transmission of explicit knowledge. As a result, administrators have a difficulty in determining the tangible impact of traditional learning methods because of the inherent difficulties of applying knowledge learned in a traditional setting to the work environment (Hara, 2009).

Current research supports the assertion that learning must take place within an organizational context for it to be considered useful. Consequently, a shift from traditional methods to a system of learning founded on collaboration and experience should be considered. Such learning can best be supported through communities of practice (COPs) (Hara, 2009).

Concept of Communities of Practice

Communities of Practice (COPs) are “collaborative, informal networks that support professional practitioners in their efforts to develop shared understandings and engage in work-relevant knowledge building” (Hara, 2009). In other words, these are groups of people who share a common goal, problems or passions about a given topic and want to deepen their knowledge and expertise in one area on an ongoing basis (Clark, 2006).

The ability of COPs to foster a friendly environment for discussing common subject matters and concerns encourages the creation and transfer of new knowledge. It also assists in connecting experts and practitioners with a common professional interest and similar experiences and expertise. COPs use face to face meetings, workspaces, maps and networks to promote peer interaction and address the various needs in all levels of an organization (Clarke, 2006).

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