Paper Analysis – “Using Technology to transform Communities of Practice into Knowledge-building Communities”


Hoadley, C. M., & Kilner, P. G. (n.d.). Using Technology to Transform Communities of Practice into Knowledge-Building Communities. SIGGROUP Bulletin, 25(1).


  • This paper descries two frameworks for understanding & building knowledge-building communities or online CoPs that enhance collective knowledge
    • (1) the C4P Framework (Content, Conversation, Connections, Context and Purpose) is used to describe how knowledge is created nd disseminated by participants in a CoP
    • (2) the Design for Distributed Cognition (DDC) Framework is discussed on how technology can add value to learning in these CoPs
  • The four theories for how learning takes place are
    1. Behaviourist learning
    2. Development learning
    3. Cognitive learning
    4. Sociocultural learning
  • Constructivism (development and cognitive learning) emphasizes that learners must construct their own understanding of the world.
  • Sociocultural learning theory views learning as a result of appropriation of social practices
  • Learning is a byproduct of CoPs
    • newcomers arrive in a community & they participate on the periphery, observing the work of the active group
    • overtime their participation becomes more central as their practices become more expert-like and their identities become more entwined with community membership
  • Definition: communities of practice are groups of people with a shared set of cultural practices. CoPs have a relatively stable set of practices that help define membership in the group.
  • knowledge-building communities are particular types of CoPs focused on learning, e.g. a group of scientists in a research lab might be both a CoP and a knowledge building community
  • knowledge in CoPs – there is an ebb and flow between tacit and explicit knowledge as it is constructed by individuals, shared and then reconstructed by someone else

The C4P Framework:

  • shorthand for
    • Content
    • Conversation
    • Connections
    • Context
    • Purpose
  • Content refers to explicit, static knowledge objects such as documents or video clips – one way communication of information
    • attracts new members by providing immediate value
    • it socializes new members by communicating what kinds of topics and voices are appropriate
    • serves as a basis of conversation
    • it motivates members as they see themselves building domains of knowledge
  • Conversation refers to face to face or online discussions – at least two way exchange of information
    • greatest mode of knowledge transfer and generation
    • personal connection and back to back conversation provides the greatest context for information
    • the chhallenge is to generate conversations that drawout meaningful knowledge rather than general chit-chat
    • this fostered by quality content, clear purpose and personal connections
    • content drives conversation
  • Connections refer to interpersonal contacts between community members that involve some level of relationship
    • connectios foster the relationships in a CoP
    • they foster the trust that enables distributed people to work on a common goal of building their knowledge domain
  • Context is th who, what, where, when, why and how that enables community members to access whether and how info is relevant to them – this is what makes the information meaningful and memorable
    • enables learners to learn more efficiently and effectively
    • helps a community member know where a knowledge has came from and how it has been applied in the past
    • empowers members to understand what a contributor is communicating; whether or not it applies to to then apply the knowledge to their own situation
  • Purpose in why community members come together in communities
    • clarity of purpose creates energy and produces results
    • the community’s purpose will inhere in its content, conversations, connections and context
    • ideally, the actual and stated purposes are the same

A clear communal purpose gives meaning to content, provides direction to conversation, fosters connections and is the unifying context of all activities in the community

The Design for Designated Contribution Framework (DDC)

This framework is explored for the design and implementation of technology for learning in CoPs

It identifies 3 advantages that technology can provide to learning environments:

  • a representational advantage – where information technology provides access to novel representations of information in support of learning
  • a process advantage – where technology supports or facilitates learner tasks or activities
  • a social context advantage – where technology shifts the social context in which the learning takes place, changing either relationships between people or relationships to self

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