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Development of a Community of Practice
Stages in the development of the COP

Development of a Community of Practice

COMMUNITY OF PRACTICES FOR THE TEACHERS AND SPECIALISTS WORKING IN THE CLASSROOMS

Etienne Wenger can be attributed the fact of coining the concept of Community of Practice (from here CoP), which he used together with Jane Lave (1991) in the published book Situated learning. Legitimate peripheral participation. This paper reflects the idea that learning implies participation in the community and that the acquisition of knowledge is considered a social process.

In other words, for the first time, the concept of learning as a collective fact is highlighted in the face of the classical idea that limits it to an individual process.

After these two publications have been many authors who have dared to define the concept of CoP. But it was again Wenger (1998) who in his book Communities of practice: Learning, meaning and identity (Cambridge University Press) fixed the three premises or dimensions -as he calls them- in which a COP is based: mutual commitment, the joint venture and the shared repertoire. Let's see them one by one:

  • Mutual commitment The fact that each member of the CoP shares his own knowledge and receives that of the others has more value than the power that, in other more classical circles, seems to acquire the one who knows everything. The partial knowledge of each of the individuals is what gives them value within the COP.
  • Joint venture. The COP must have common objectives and needs to cover, although not homogeneous. Each member of the CoP can understand that goal in a different way, but still share it. The interests and needs may be different and, therefore, negotiated, but they must be a source of coordination and encouragement for the COP.
  • Shared repertoire. Over time the COP acquires routines, words, tools, ways of doing, symbols or concepts that it has produced or adopted in the course of its existence and that have been part of its practice.

So, we can say that a COP is a group of people, who meet in order to share ideas, find solutions and innovate, joining their efforts for the continuous development of a specialized knowledge area, where they collaborate and learn from each other, in person and virtually. They are united by a common goal and the desire to share experiences, knowledge and best practices within a subject or discipline.

The requirements of a COP are:

  1. Domain: shared interest theme
  2. Community
  3. Practice. Members of a COP develop a shared repertoire of resources: tool experiences, ways to handle recurring problems

The objectives that a COP must pursue are:

  1. Continuous training through the exchange of theoretical, methodological and practical knowledge, encouraging the development of projects
  2. Establishment of alliances to facilitate the flow of knowledge, strengthen ties between its members giving formal character to the links between professionals and enhancing collaboration.
  3. Creation of synergies with strategic priorities, facilitating the detection and registration of good practices.
  4. Generation of new It is a platform where knowledge and experiences are shared, a space that feeds new knowledge resulting from discussion and reflection.

These are the conditions that should be met for an active and productive CoP:

  1. Sense of belonging of its participants, which implies clearly defining the purpose and results.
  2. Positive personal attitude towards collective work, which entails the existence of a relational climate in which ties of reciprocity and collaboration are fostered.
  3. An organizational culture that facilitates the participation of people in the COP.
  4. A coordination and facilitation team that leads the circulation of knowledge, the interaction scenario, the mode of participation, the rules of the game and the methodological guidelines.
  5. Roles and responsibilities in the COP, and its operating structure, fundamentally communication mechanisms because people, processes and technology interact in it.

Action plan of the community of practice

See practice image

Stages in the development of the COP (see box)

Purposes roles Products Activities (methods and tools)

Know and record practical experiences about student care in CyL classrooms and technology.

Access professionally active people in the field.

Mapping and recording information about good practices in CyL classrooms in the European space.

Advance in the generation and management in the knowledge of the subject

Participating teaching staff

Dynamic teacher.

Community Coordinators.

Virtual platform managers

Results:

The people integrated in the COP know, exchange and generate knowledge on the subject.

The COP is a benchmark for educational institutions, civil society organizations, scientific communities, etc.

Possible indicators

Number of active teaching staff in the COP.

Number of interventions on the platform.

Number of documents contributed to the community.

Number of contributions selected as good practices based on established criteria.

Number of relevant documents that are developed, shared, disclosed and published.

Number of networks with which it interacts.

Systematize experiences that provide good practices on issues relevant to the COP.

Generate a record of relevant experimental activities that are currently being developed in the classrooms.

Provide easy access to this record or others to the members of the COP.

Prepare and validate documents, activities, projects and experiences and put them on the COP discussion stage.

Organize face-to-face meetings to maintain and consolidate the COP.

Establish a channel of information on the updated topic.


In summary

According to Wenger, McDermott and Snyder (2002), a CoP is "a group of people who share a concern, a set of problems or a common interest about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area through a continued interaction. "

The three premises in which, according to Wenger (1998), a COP is based are the mutual commitment, the joint venture and the shared repertoire.

Based on the idea that COPs can be face-to-face or virtual, Information and Communication Technologies (henceforth ICT) provide a series of advantages to the functioning of the COPs. On the one hand, they encourage their existence by facilitating fluid communication and, on the other, they allow them to be more visible to the rest of the organization, either during the moment of their existence or later. Information technologies allow the CoPs to overcome the barriers of the formal structures of organizations, geographical and temporal barriers. It provides flexibility and accessibility, and allows newcomers to understand their context quickly.

On the one hand, they encourage their existence by facilitating fluid communication and, on the other, they allow them to be more visible to the rest of the organization, either during the moment of their existence or later. Information technologies allow the CoPs to overcome the barriers of the formal structures of organizations, geographical and temporal barriers. It provides flexibility and accessibility, and allows newcomers to understand their context quickly.

The figure of the moderator in the CoPs is a key figure for them to work correctly. Identifying important issues, planning and facilitating the activities of the COP, promoting the development of the members of the COP, helping to build the practice, etc., are some of the functions that a moderator-coordinator must perform. To these we must add one more, also very important, which is the mission of ensuring the correct storage and easy retrieval of documents and all the information exchanged and all the knowledge generated within a COP.

After all, the web portal that is created as a product of the European Project K201AMUSE is one of the essential tools for the creation of a COP. In it the products will be housed, but it would be necessary to start up, through social networks (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Telegram, Instagram...) and other web tools (Blogger, WordPress, Pinterest, Paper.li, Wetransfer…) meeting places, debate and production for people who have the "sense of belonging" to a community like this.

Bibliographic references:

Practice communities guide. 2011 Marín, G. UNDP. (United Nations Program for Development Meteorological Series of Knowledge Management.

Review of the Communities of Practice and their computer resources on the Internet by Ettiene Wenger. 2004. Juárez Pacheco, M.

Virtual communities of practice: access and use of content Sandra Sanz Journal of University and Knowledge Society Vol. 2 - No. 2 / November of 2005 ISSN 1698-580X www.uoc.edu/rus


Additional Info

Goal:
Social communication
Students age range:
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25
Curriculum area:
Technology
Year period:
Any moment
Difficulties found while implementing it:
• Coordination and revitalization of the COP given that despite what you may think, this dynamisation does not depend on a few people, but on all the teachers who participate in it. Everyone must nourish and energize the community of practice.
The official webpage for the good practice:
http://mestreacasa.gva.es/web/cefirevalencia
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The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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