How to Utilize an Online Community of Practice (CoP) to Enhance Innovation in Teaching and Learning

How to Utilize an Online Community of Practice (CoP) to Enhance Innovation in Teaching and Learning

Jacob Prisk, Kerry Lee
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-068-2.ch039
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Involving the community in supporting students’ learning is something most educators would consider high in importance. Communities of practice have proven they assist authentic learning to take place. Developing an online community of practice adds a layer of complexity to classroom learning, as it is more than simply converting activities to Web-based interactions. This chapter provides background to what communities of practice are and how they function. It outlines the considerations needed to design a successful and sustainable community of practice. Utilization, considerations for implementation and future trends will also be elaborated upon.
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The concept of a community of practice (CoP) began in the 1980s at the Institute for Research on Learning, which was funded by the Xerox Corporation (Daniel, Sarkar & O’Brien, 2004). From this there has been more research outlining the significance of CoPs as a centre point for its members for engagement, collaboration and the sharing of knowledge. The CoP can be a centre point to trade different types of information between its members. Etienne Wenger is recognized as the most knowledgeable and main theorist in CoPs. According to Wenger, McDermott and Snyder (2002) a CoP is:

“a community of practice is not just a Web site, a database, or a collection of best practices. It is a group of people who interact, learn together, build relationships, and in the process develop a sense of belonging and mutual commitment. Having others who share your overall view of the domain and yet bring their individual perspectives on any given problem creates a social learning system that goes beyond the sum of its parts.” (p. 34)

Key Terms in this Chapter

Portal: An online portal that gives key stakeholders up-to-date, ‘on-demand’ access to an individual student’s education progress (Dataview, 2010).

Engagement: When members of a group or organisation establish meaningful contact with other members to participate or become involved in an activity in which they are going to benefit from.

Online Community of Practice: A community or group who share a space online on the Internet and who are joined together by expertise, interests and are motivated for a joint enterprise. This community does not have to be in the same geographical location.

Sharing of Knowledge: An activity through which knowledge is exchanged among people or members of a community or organization.

Collaborate: Work jointly with others on an activity especially to produce or create something, which lets the participants, gain a new understanding.

Bandwidth: The transmission capacity of a computer network.

Hub: Forms the effective centre of knowledge where different networks can access it.

Community Of Practice: A community or group of people who are casually tied together by shared knowledge, interest and are motivated for a joint enterprise.

Blog: Part of a Web site on which an individual or group of users produces an ongoing narrative.

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