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Communities of Practice
The term “community of practice” was coined by Etienne Wenger and Jean Lave during their studies of cognitive apprenticeship learning model. Communities of practice are
“groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.
Members of a community of practice share ideas and knowledge, collaboratively search for solutions to problems. Social learning is here expected to occur.2) A community of practice can for example be
“a tribe learning to survive, a band of artists seeking new forms of expression, a group of engineers working on similar problems, a clique of pupils defining their identity in the school, a network of surgeons exploring novel techniques, a gathering of first-time managers helping each other cope.
What are communities of practice?
A community of practice is defined by three elements:
Domain - Members of the community of practice share interest for a certain domain.
Community - Members of the community of practice take part in activities, discussions and learn from each other.
Practice - Members of the community of practice practice the knowledge they share among themselves.
Size, formality and meeting frequency of a community of practice can vary.
Some other important characteristics of a community of practice are4):
Enterprise - how active is the community in its quest for knowledge?
Mutuality - how deep is the sense of community among its members?
Repertoire - how self-aware is the community about its own levels and ways of practice?
What is the practical meaning of communities of practice?
The concept of communities of practice has practical applications in business, organizational design, government, civic life and education.5)
Transformation to communities of practice in schools could however be more demanding since education is their primary goal. The transformation can be observed in three dimensions: internally to organize learners into communities of practice around their school subjects, external to connect them with other communities outside school and over lifetime by organizing communities of practice lasting after the schooling period.
Keywords and most important names