Supporting Communities of Practice by Advancing Knowledge Management between Hybrid Collaborative Environments

Supporting Communities of Practice by Advancing Knowledge Management between Hybrid Collaborative Environments

Anna De Liddo (Open University, UK) and Grazia Concilio (Politecnico di Milano, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-711-9.ch004
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Abstract

In this chapter the authors investigate a tool integration perspective to support knowledge management and exchange between Web-based and traditional collaborative environments. In particular they discuss the integration between a tool (CoPe_it!) supporting collaborative argumentation and learning in Webbased communities of practices and a hypermedia and sense making tool (Compendium) acting as a personal and collective knowledge management (KM) system in traditional collaborative environments. The authors describe the tools and drive a comparative analysis of the two groupware by focusing on the general applicability of the tools integration for supporting communities of practices and, more generally, collaborative works. Moreover the authors present the results of a case study in which the tools integration has been applied within a real community of practice. Finally they discuss main results of the tools integration in order to leverage communities of practice to a truly collaborative environment with no communication boundaries.
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Hybrid Communities Of Practice (Hcop): Blending Between Virtual And Traditional Collaborative Environments

Communities of Practice (CoP) naturally generate and act in real world settings like work contexts, leisure and family or familiar places (Lave & Wenger 1991). Contextual and contingent situations can bring people to discover common aims, desires, needs or problems and then trigger new unpredictable ways of collaboration towards shared objectives. Starting from these objectives people communicate and organize their actions towards common goals. In this process of community definition, specific roles, tasks, and expertise start emerging within the group (Wenger 1998). Eventually, the different roles are legitimated by social relationships of trust among the community members, forging the overall identity of the group as a whole (Brown & Duguid 2000).

This complex process of transition from a group towards a Community of Practice is determined by the simultaneous occurrence of personal actions, choices and attributions of value. This transition is strictly related to the individual knowledge of the community members (often tacit knowledge) and to the contextualization of this knowledge to different environments, situations and times (Lave & Wenger 1991).

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