Surveys provide a valuable opportunity to gather information from individual participants to help inform planning, gather evidence and report results.
The Benefits of Surveys
Surveys can capture information across a large or small scale. They are a practical way of collecting data for a multitude of purposes.
The range of survey types and programmes that facilitate them today makes surveys an appropriate tool for:
- Communities of Practice project planning
- Collecting information that informs background knowledge about specific subjects
- Promoting research through custom surveys
- Gauging how a group of people or communities feel about certain topics, subjects or ideas
- Keeping up with the latest trends and issues that are relevant to the community of practice
Today, there is a plethora of survey software that facilitates secure and reliable data management. An added advantage of this is that members of a CoP can develop research skills while collaborating with others to achieve mutual goals.
Through an initial survey at the beginning of the CoP, you can gain useful information about the participants' context, professional experience and interests, and their beliefs and values regarding teaching and learning. This can be used for planning purposes as well as for baseline data when evaluating the CoP when it comes to a close.
A final survey will help discover what did and didn't work with your CoP. The data gleamed can help you discover what changes the CoP brought to its members such as in their opinions, outlook and skills and knowledge gained. The data can be used in a report on the success and efficacy of the CoP as well as to inform best practice when creating any future CoP.
The majority of CoPs will implement a process of regular check-ins during meetings. This can be done openly or anonymously (such as through an online form). Anonymous form have the benefits of allowing people to feel more comfortable being honest. The check-ins can involve simple questions such as asking if anyone has used a particular resource. The information gained from these check-ins can be used to inform future events and provide insight as to what issues the members are currently facing.
There are a number of ways in which members can share their experiences and knowledge:
- Online polls and surveys
- Short presentations
- Forum or blog posts
Encouraging members to share and discuss what has gone well for them is a powerful strategy for sharing knowledge. Stories provide an engaging and authentic means to illustrate what can be done. These stories can be shared in person, in writing or through audio or video depending on the needs and tastes of the CoP members. It might help to think of some questions or suggested stories to help members think of what could be shared.
As a CoP comes near the end of its lifespan, creating a report can provide an excellent means of collating and disseminating all that has been achieved. Summary reports can be provided to both participants and stakeholders, especially if they have contributed to the creation of the CoP. The report should review the goals of the CoP as well as the results of any activity, projects and research undertaken.
Sections could include:
- Goals and results
- Key components
- Legacy plans
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.