What is the difference between a PLC and a CoP? – A brief overview

What is a Professional Learning Community (PLC)?

(reference: https://professoredit.wordpress.com/cops-and-plcs/)

  • PLCs are learning communities among educators, where educators want to improve their skill and teaching knowledge to put the student learning first
  • They are designed so that students aren’t just taught, but that they learn – this is a shift in focus from teaching to learning
  • 3 questions that drive the work of those in a PLC include:
    • how do we want eah student to learn?
    • how will we know each student has learned it?
    • how will we respond when a student experiences difficulty in learning?

(reference: http://edglossary.org/professional-learning-community/)

  • a group of educators who meet regularly, share expertise, and work collaboratively to improve teaching skills and the academic performance of students
  • they serve two main purposes:
    • improve the skills and knowledge of educators through collborative study, expertise exchange and professional dialogue
    • improving the educational aspirations, achievements and attainments of students through stronger leadership and teaching
  • they function as a form of action research – always questioning, re-evaluating, refining and improving teaching strategies and knowledge
  • meetings are facilitated by educators who have been trained to lead PLCs
  • common activities in PLCs include:
    • review lesson plans, offer critical feedback for improvement
    • offer recommendations or how lessons or teaching may be modified to improve student work
    • develop teaching and support strategies to help students who may be struggling academically
    • participants engage in conversation about a text that has been read and how it may inform or improve they way they teach

What are the differences between PLCs and CoPs (Communities of Practice)?

  • CoPs are more focused on those learning, i.e. students, whereas PLCs are more concerned with the professionals who are doing the teaching, although they too are learning.
  • CoPs focus on learning; PLCs focus on the result of teaching
  • PLCs are more common to the education community whereas CoPs are more associated with the business community
  • they both seek to empower groups of people, interested in some facet, in learning and/or in teaching
  • in both, those seeking to learn can share on the knowledge, experiences and divergent viewpoints of their peers
  • the increasing of learning and knowledge through collaboration are the goals of both
  • technology is a motivator for both CoPs and PLCs:
    • teachers and learners have access to vast amount of information online today, they no longer have to visit the library, both communities can come up with more ideas than they could ever test out and in the process reach the height of the knowlege they wish to seek
    • communities can be spread across the world and thanks to technology they can access advice, information and knowledge from all over the world
  • PLCs will often hold regular meetings, face-to-face and during school hours and often follow pre-determined agendas developed by facilitators and facilitators often use protocols to structure group conversations and help keep discussions focused and structured



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