The Role of Communities of Practice in a Digital Age


Designing Effective CoPs:

There are 7 key design principles for creating effective and self-sustaining CoPs – particularly focusing on the management of a community.

  1. Design for Evolution
    1. Community can evolve and shift focus to meet the interests of the participants without moving too far away from the domain of interest
  2. Open a dialogue between inside and outside perspectives
    1. encourage the introduction & discussion of new perspectives that come or are brought in from outside the community
  3. Encourage and accept different levels of participation 
    1. Core Group
    2. Others who follow discussions and activities
    3. Those on the periphery
  4. Develop both public and private spaces
    1. develop individual or group activities that are private as well as public discussion
    2. face-to-face meetings
    3. online blog
  5. Focus on Value
    1. what contributions do the community most value?
  6. Combine familiarity and excitement
    1. shared common concerns and perspectives
    2. introducing radical or challenging perspectives for discussions or actions
  7. Create a rhythm for the community 
    1. regular schedule of activities that bring participants together

How to measure the effectiveness of participants in CoPs?

  • awareness of social presence
  • motivated to share information for the common good of the community
  • able and willing to collaborate

Learning through CoPs in a digital age:

  • an alternative way for a certain kind of learners & will probably work best when those participating have some kind of prior general education or training
  • The development of MOOCs for developing online communities of practice. Connectivist MOOCs are much closer to being virtual communities of practice, in that they put much more emphasis on sharing knowledge between more or less equal participants.
  • Life long learning market – collaborative learning, sharing of knowledge and experience, crowd sourcing new ideas and development – informal learning provision  – free and therefore beneficial to non-governmental or charitable organisations



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