Communities of Practice: Growing Knowledge
Growing Knowledge is a term often associated with communities of practice (CoP). It represents the idea of knowledge building to support collaboration, innovation and the effectiveness of activities involving members of communities of practice. Communities of practice are beneficial because they can provide the opportunity for knowledge building to expand among members and beyond, as a result of shared activity, of which growing knowledge becomes an invaluable product.
A community of practice engages in growing knowledge by assuming multiple roles whereby learning and imparting knowledge become the norm. Members collaborate to share resources, skills and mutually learn about specific subjects. Examples of activities include participation in online events, conferences, acquiring new skills, group discussions, supporting projects and creating content. A library or Moodle space, for example, are good conduits for knowledge building. The growing element in this environment can be manifested in the sharing of resources and content beyond small CoPs, extending these to wider communities, such as a specific education sector, other stakeholders within that sector, or similar groups in other countries or intellectual domains.
Identify Topics to Explore
In the beginning, it may be necessary for the facilitators to provide the topics for discussion or for events. However, once the community has been established, new topics should be proposed and vetted by its members. This help ensure that the CoP addresses the needs and interests of the participants. Topics can be discussed at initial meetings and participants can be asked to rank the proposals in order of preference.
Through undertanding the goals of the community members, you can align the greater goals of the CoP to those of the participants. In the initial meeting it can useful to take the time to discuss individual goals and help members identify colleagues with similar priorities.
A key component to growing the shared knowledge is the identification, sharing and examination of relevant resources. Research articles can provide an evidence based means of improving one's practice. Discovering useful research or other resources can be a time-consuming process. Members should be encouraged to share their thoughts on interesting articles that they have discovered. Facilitators should look for opportunities to involve members in discussing and reflecting on research articles they have discovered.
Contents of this guide are available under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 unless stated otherwise.
This guide has been adapted from Creating Communities of Practice by Edmonton Regional Learning Consortium (ERLC) which is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.