Learning Communities/Communities of Practice
This page provides links to resources that look at the importance of Learning Communities and Communities of Practice in e-learning.
Articles in date order, most recent first.
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"By taking a phased approach to community building in asynchronous online training programs, you can increase traffic and build loyalty for your initiative, product, or brand." Amber Krieger, Learning Circuits, May 2006
Added: 8 May 2006
Conclusion: "Through a phased approach, you can build community naturally, while gaining valuable audience information that can be used to increase the relevance of your training. As you move toward active community, participation and engagement grows, resulting in a richer learning experience and increased loyalty and buy-in for your initiative, product or brand.
By David Porter, BCCampus.ca
Added: 4 May 2006
A 68-slide presentation in PDF format
"Despite the growing popularity of virtual communities, there is no consensus among researchers regarding the appropriate definition or types of virtual communities. In this paper, a virtual community is defined as an aggregation of individuals or business partners who interact around a shared interest, where the interaction is at least partially supported and/or mediated by technology and guided by some protocols or norms. The central objective of developing this typology was to develop a classification system that would be useful to researchers from various disciplinary perspectives such that the classification system might be used as a foundation for theory construction." Constance Elise Porter, Journal of Computer Mediated Communication 10(1), November 2004
Added: 7 December 2004
The proposed typology uses establishment type and relationship orientation as the key categorization variables, reconciling problems posed by other researchers who attempt to use attributes as categorization variables. It is simple, pragmatic for practitioners and useful for researchers seeking to develop an understanding of the virtual community phenomenon.
"iCohere helps organizations create "collaborative communities", which we classify into three types of communities - learning communities, communities of practice, and project communities. We've applied our backgrounds in education and organizational development and built a software platform that includes a suite of group process and collaboration tools that help people foster relationships, collaboratively learn together, create new knowledge, and work together remotely." Online Community Report, October 2004
Added: 23 October 2004
Answers questions like "What lessons can you share about running a really great online event or conference as it relates to community building? "
"Emerging devices, tools, media and virtual environments offer opportunities for creating new types of learning communities for students and teachers. Examples of learning communities include a national mix of kids working together to create an online encyclopedia about Harry Potter's fictional world, or groups of mentor and novice teachers in Milwaukee sharing ideas about effective instruction." Chris Dede, THE Journal
Added: 15 September 2004
"Both opportunities and challenges arise in applying this model of learning communities to the instruction of students and to the preparation, induction and professional development of teachers."
Added: 23 October 2004
"I have come to believe, as a high school math teacher, that the terms "learning" and "community" are both necessary to successfully guide students to the knowledge that they need. With online learning, I think that one might seek to establish too much of one without enough of the other. Yet, as instructors, we should have our students connect both with what they are learning and with each other. Here are some guidelines to do just that." Chris Waters, techLearning, 1 February 2004
Added: 13 February 2004
Conclusion: "Building a LEARNING community involves a lot of work at developing content mastery as well as interaction that provides a network for students to learn and share."
"Your first time teaching an online course isn't going as well as you had hoped. You thought you posted interesting reading materials and asked students good questions to respond to in the discussion area. But so far, the quality and quantity of their participation has been low, and you aren't sure why. What really has you concerned is the fact that future investments in online learning at your institution depend heavily on the success of this first-ever fully online course, and you know this lack of student engagement will be reflected in student evaluations and learning outcomes. What strategy will you employ to try and turn things around for the remaining 10 weeks of the semester?" Jennifer Gurrie, elearningspace, 8 August 2003
Added: 17 August 2003
Asking students to "read this and share your thoughts" doesn't result in high quality discussions, PBL is the way to go.
"Communities of Practice are formed by groups of people who come together to learn from one another face-to-face and virtually. This article explores how to design and sustain these communities effectively within organizations." C van Winkelen, elearningeuropa.info, 20 May 2003
Added: 26 June 2003
"This document has been prepared for the ESEN project. It is intended to stimulate debate around the subject of inter-organization communities of practice, not to provide specific recommendations. It draws on research undertaken by the Henley Management College Knowledge Management Forum, together with published literature."
Kate Dibben, EDNA
Added: 22 May 2003
Looks at the nature of online communities, how to find out about and join communities in education, appreciation of issues relating to creating communities
"Educators have a longstanding tradition of pursuing professional development through various levels of collaboration within communities of practice - the emergence of online versions, often known as online learning communities, is a natural extension of the strategy." Graeme Daniel and Kevin Cox, 11 May 2003
Added: 12 May 2003
"In this week's Web Tools Newsletter, we look at rationales for the development of such communities, best practices and successful examples in the field, some assessments of effectiveness, and directions for the future."
"Based on lessons learned over the last year from the development of The eLearning Guild, this articles outlines a number of key success factors that can help you build and manage more successful COPs for your learning communities. You may also discover that there's much more to the Guild, and the services provided to members, than you may have thought..." By Heidi Fisk & David Holcombe, eLearning Developers Journal, January 2003
Added: 16 February 2003
More than just discussion forums, COPs offer a wide range of activities
"This article offers a set of heuristics drawn from published academic research into online communities of practice. These heuristics may be used to inform design, or they can be used as heuristics in an evaluation process. These heuristics are preliminary-we have successfully applied them informally to evaluate an existing system at a large corporation." Mark Notess and Josh Plaskoff, eLearn Magazine, January 2003
Added: 20 January 2003
"More and more companies are taking the time to think together and share knowledge from remote corners of the globe." Workforce Online, December 2002
Added: 10 January 2003
Includes some useful tips for growing communities of practice
"As organizations grow intoglobal entities, the need to develop communities of practice (CoP) is also growing exponentially. There are many key factors to ensuring thatyour CoP is successful and you'll find a great summary of them in this article... You need to have a sound strategy, and good technology to support that strategy. Learn how Tellabs tackled this challenge within their decentralized Product Services Training group using Groove." Katherine J Werner, eLearning Developers Journal, 5 November 2002
Added: 6 November 2002
Sound advice on building a community of practice.
"The Internet exists to improve communication. Communities can grow anywhere communication occurs." by chromatic, O'Reilly Network, 21 October 2002
Added: 5 November 2002
"Before you can start focusing your community-building actions, you must understand the dynamics of online communities" This article explains why.
"Communities of practice are emerging as the most promising structures for building knowledge-based organizations. They are the key to the knowledge strategy of a growing number of leading companies. Since we believe that communities of practice are the way to organize for knowledge, learning, and innovation, are applying the method to ourselves. CPsquare is a way for us to walk the talk. Like all communities, CPsquare consists of an ecology of interconnected activities that provide many ways for people to participate, benefit, and build a shared practice."
Updated: 26 September 2002
Communities of practice should be part of an organisation's learning strategy, so read this paper for more information on their importance
"In a recent survey by the Masie Center, nearly 2000 learning professionals ranked online communities as one of the top three most important components of e-learning portals. But the term community remains ambiguous, and CLOs are unsure how to start building and integrating them into their organizations. Here's a model that describes a number of practical applications for including community as part of a learning plan and specific strategies for building learning-focused communities." Soren Kaplan, Learning Circuits, August 2002
Added: 20 August 2002
Types of learning communities and creating learning communities
"With the emergence of e-learning, predictions for training's evolution suggest a shift from delivering traditional training to designing, facilitating, and managing various types of learning experiences. Although direct interaction between trainers and learners will decrease, it will not cease to exist. Therefore, designers must consider how to capture the greatest value from trainer-to-learner involvement. Enter the knowledge transfer network." Madeleine Butschler, Learning Circuits, July 2002
Added: 12 July 2002
"In the traditional classroom, knowledge transfer is considered a unidirectional activity--trainers transfer knowledge to learners. As e-learning evolves and the influence of knowledge management grows, developers must reframe communication to be multidirectional between instructors, learners, managers, change agents, and so forth."
"Informal groups known as communities of practice are the latest technique for getting employees to share what they know. Here are seven ways to encourage such communities in your company." Etienne Wenger, Richard McDermott and William Snyder, Book Excerpt, CIO Magazine
Added: 18 May 2002
An excerpt from this well regarded book
"This paper will develop the hypothesis that over the next 10 years of the main modes of learning will be through the accessing and sharing knowledge via networked communities." Jim Flood, COROUS, May 2002
Added: 3 May 2002
Paper presented at a symposium for the Armed Services at The Royal College of Military Science, Shrivenham, UK
"The Coalition for Self-Learning is a collective of autonomous individuals and groups each working independently but in mutual aid to help one another promote ideas and actions for creating learning communities and their relevance to social change. It's goals and purposes are to envision a world without schools -- a world of cooperative community life-long learning centers as a significant element in the emerging cooperative commonwealth where individuals are honoured and celebrated and where they find a safe place to be, to belong, to learn, and to go on developing in a meaningful way - for them, and for their whole family/community/society."
Added: 15 February 2002
Particularly look at the Book: Creating Learning Communities
"Thinking about building or hosting an online community? Looking for specific tips, tools and ideas? Start here. The following is a collection of articles by Full Circle Associates Nancy White, Sue Boettcher and Heather Duggan." Full Circle Associates
Added: 12 January 2002
A very useful collection of resources for building a learning community
"We surveyed 1,697 Internet users in January and February to explore the breadth and depth of community online. Our findings suggest that the online world is a vibrant social universe where many Internet users enjoy serious and satisfying contact with online communities." Pew Internet & American Life, October 2001
Added: 20 December 2001
An interesting survey of American use of communities
"Communities of Practice (CoPs) have been around since, at least, the age of the European guilds. In fact, some of the definitions let us see them as being as old as the human journey on this planet. What makes this distinction so crucial to the vitality of organizations, in this time, is the shift to quality relationships as the currency of thriving in chaos."
Added: 25 November 2001
A collection of resources about CoPs
"Knowledge and learning have become the new strategic imperative of organizations. Recent surveys by The Conference Board and the American Management Association show that at least one-half of U.S. companies, and up to 72% of overseas firms, have some kind of knowledge management initiative underway. Other studies put the figure closer to 80% for global corporations. Chief Knowledge Officers and Chief Learning Officers are popping up everywhere. These strategic knowledge initiatives are ushering in a rich array of opportunities for applying OD expertise. This article will first describe the new logic driving interest in knowledge management and then focus on how OD practitioners can participate in that strategic conversation, and support knowledge creation and sharing through building communities of practice." Verna Allee, OD Practitioner, Vol 32, No 4
Added: 25 November 2001
CoPs from the viewpoint of OD (Organisational Design).
"Is community-based learning part of your organization's plan for capturing all that the new economy has to offer? If not, do you know why it should be? To be a successful, high-performance organization in the new economy, your enterprise will not only need to embrace the vision of the learning organization; you will want to create and grow learning communities." Etienne Wenger and William Snyder, LineZine, Summer 2000
Added: 25 November 2001
A good overall summary of the importance of learning communities in organisations
"One of the criticisms associated with e-learning is that it can foster a sense of isolation and loss of informal learning in a social context. Learning communities, whether physical or virtual (preferably physical and virtual) not only answer this criticism but can transform e-learning environments into knowledge-rich communities of practice."
Added: 20 November 2001
Foster peer-to-peer networks
A short 5 step-by-step approach to understanding electronic groups and how they can be used. Part of EdTech's Effective Use of Online Course Tools
Added: 17 November 2001
A quick and easy to use summary of discussion forums - simply and effectively produced
"The notion of communities of practice, or CoPs, is at the heart of many epistemological theories of workplace learning. These days, the spotlight is on virtual CoPs, or technology-enabled CoPs. And, thanks largely to the Internet, many CoP solutions exist. But, building and sustaining a CoP takes more than just acquiring the technology. The "build it and they will come", or in this case, "build it and they will share knowledge" attitude completely ignores the fundamentals of human interaction." Maish Nichani, elearningpost, 4 October 2001
Added: 7 October 2001
As usual another thoughtful article by Maish Nichani
"Both enterprise knowledge management initiatives and real estate developers reap substantial rewards from constructing communities. In the former case, those communities--specifically communities of practice--are more virtual than real. Designed to capture, share and apply corporate knowledge assets, they are a fundamental building block of any successful enterprise knowledge strategy" Philip J Gill, Knowledge Management, October 2001
Added: 5 October 2001
An excellent article that summarises the importance of communities to meet corporate objectives
Added: 4 September 2001
This is the companion website for Amy Jo Kim's book. Contents include: Purpose - the heart of your community, Places - bringing people together, Profiles - getting to know your members, etc
"A fully-featured conversation area, excerpts from the book, and essays on designing community spaces online." Derek Powazek
Added: 11 August 2001
For conversation about designing online communities
"The technologies that support the growth of virtual communities have long since infiltrated formal classes and are now entering the social interactions of students and faculty-for good reason. Freedom from constraints in space and time and the ability to link to Web resources have made listservs, message boards, and other online media ideal for distance learning." Howard Rheingold, Syllabus, July 2001
Added: 6 July 2001
Howard Rheingold explores the implications of virtual communities on campus.
"Is community-based learning part of your organization's plan for capturing all that the new economy has to offer? If not, do you know why it should be? To be a successful, high-performance organization in the new economy, your enterprise will not only need to embrace the vision of the learning organization; you will want to create and grow learning communities." Etienne Wenger and William Snyder
Added: 24 June 2001
A important article to read in that it makes you realise why establishing learning communities are an important part of an organisation's learning strategy.
"In the past few years you may have heard the term Community used in conversations you never expected to hear it. Community has probably popped up in talks about learning, knowledge management, the web, and content delivery. Community?" Learnativity
Added: 24 June 2001
Although the Learnativity website is frequently featured on these Resource pages, we have now included a much needed link to a resource that provides a general understanding of learning communities.
"Community building on the Net is not an easy task. We are not talking of the difficulty in creating community-based products (the software), but of the difficulty in fostering and maintaining online relationships . Communities is about the people, and not about the tools that enable communication. In the following sections, we will guide you through resources on the Net that you can explore to learn about building online communities, be it for business or learning." elearningpost, October 2000.
Added: May 2001
"In this paper we will explore the "community" aspect of learning more deeply and figure how we can create and sustain a culture of learning using online communities." Maish R Nichani, elearningpost.com
Added: May 2001
"Do you feel like you belong in many -- any -- Web communities? Lots of people and companies try and host successful Websites, but few pull it off. Cliff Figallo has helped do it three different times, and has written a workmanlike, useful book about what it takes -- good design, time, patience, great software, trust and the right people. He never loses sight of what the user wants and needs. Here is a review of Hosting Web Communities, on how to build enduring and yes, profitable communities online." Slashdot, 25 January 2001
Added: March 2001
Technology can extend traditional teacher/learner relationships beyond the space/time limitations of the brick and mortar classroom. And it can challenge and redefine how teachers and learners have related since antiquity. From the Online Classroom. Edited by Zane Berge and Mauri Colins.
"How do you build school spirit at a university where the only campus is a Web site and students never even see each other?" An article appearing in the Chronicle of Higher Education.