What is a Community of Practice (CoP)
As defined by Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner in 2015, “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” (p. 2). A CoP is not a typical community; for example, a social media page created for educators might be a gathering place and even be called a community, but these spaces could not usually be considered a community of practice.
Three characteristics elevate a community to that of a community of practice:
- Shared Domain of Interest: not just the interest in a common subject, but each member has some expertise to share about the topic. Through this collective competence, members can learn from one another, building on and expanding their individual knowledge.
- The Community: Although members may not see or work with each other daily, they are committed to pursuing their interests in their domain and designate time to engage in the community’s joint activities and discussions, helping each other, and sharing information.
- The Practice: Members of a community of practice are practitioners. They develop a shared repertoire of resources: experiences, stories, tools, and ways of addressing recurring problems through sustained interaction.
The result of a CoP built on the foundation of these three characteristics is an impactful learning community that advances its members professionally and supports the creation of new knowledge and practices. A positive side effect of developing a close community of practice is members who frequently interact and support each other.
The Value Proposition of CoPs
A community of practice has the potential to:
- Connect people who might not otherwise have the opportunity to interact, either as frequently or at all.
- Provide a shared context for people to communicate and share information, stories and personal experiences in a way that builds understanding and insight.
- Enable dialogue between people who come together to explore new possibilities, solve challenging problems, and create new, mutually beneficial opportunities.
- Stimulate learning by serving as a vehicle for authentic communication, mentoring, coaching, and self-reflection.
- Capture and share existing knowledge to help people improve their practice by providing a forum to identify solutions to common problems and a process to collect and evaluate best practices.
- Introduce collaborative processes to groups and organizations to encourage the free flow of ideas and exchange of information.
- Help people organize around purposeful actions that develop tangible results.
- Generate new knowledge to help people transform their practice to accommodate changes in needs and technologies.
Source : Cambridge and Suter (2005). Community of practice design guide., Edmonton Regional Learning Consortium, 2016 https://www.communityofpractice.ca/background/why-communities-of-practice-are-important/)
Resources to Plan, Create and Launch a Community of Practice
Current Communities of Practice at KPU
The TL Commons is initiating a community of practice to bring together educators using or considering using gen AI in their courses with their students. It is our intention that this group will work together to develop knowledge, share use cases and inform KPU leadership decisions around gen AI tools, policies and processes.
Past Communities of Practice at KPU
Universal Design for Learning
Facilitator: Dr. Jennifer Hardwick
Are you thinking about how to make your assignments, activities, and course materials more accessible? Wondering how to build inclusive classes and provide options for students while managing your own workload? Do you want to learn more about Universal Design for Learning? This Community of Practice is for you! Join other educators to share ideas, work through challenges, build skills, and offer resources. This will be a flexible Community of Practice that will support you regardless of where you are in your UDL journey – long-term practitioners and curious newcomers alike are welcome!
Ecological Place-Based Education for all
Facilitator: Lee Beavington
Ready to take your teaching and learning outdoors? Curious about place-based education? Wondering how your work at KPU could fit into this practice? Join our Community of Practice, open to faculty, staff and students. Learn how to facilitate ecological place-based education remotely. Cultivate clear intentions and a reciprocity lens to learning on and with the land. Explore place-based learning ideas at multiple campuses, including Richmond (KPU Farm), Langley (Logan Creek) and Surrey (Westerman property and nearby Cougar Creek). Open to any discipline at KPU.
Facilitators: Sarah Duncan & Taryn Greig
The Mindfulness Matters learning community is a small group of interested faculty who meet monthly to develop a personal mindfulness practice and enhance their knowledge of contemplative practices in pedagogy.
ePortfolio Matters at KPU
Facilitators: Gillian Sudlow & Lisa Gedak
Are you an eportfolio champion willing to share your expertise? Or are you curious about eportfolios, and how you might implement them in your course, program, or professional life? Do you have ideas, big or small, about how eportfolios might align with your course or program outcomes? Are you wary of the technical competencies required for yourself or your students? Do you want to learn more about eportfolio pedagogy and platforms? This Community of Practice is for you!