Geralt, Pixbay, provided by Creative Commons CC0

The forum questions for Module 2.1

  • What are your thoughts and experiences with ‘Communities of practice’ – theory and real life observations?
  • How important is it to belong to and learn with a community (#such as INF537). Given a choice would you prefer to work/learn alone? Why?

A community of practice, as opposed to a simple community, is one that shares a common 1) domain of shared interests and competence 2) community of regular interaction and discussion 3) practice, repertoire resources and experiences (Wenger, 2011).

What we are talking about here is putting into practice what we are preaching for student pedagogy: If networked, participatory, collaborative learning is best for our students, then surely it should be the model for educational leadership as well as professional and curriculum development.

The power of ten working interactively will almost invariably outstrip the power of one looking to beat out the other nine (Davidson and Goldberg, 2009, p.30)

What are my experiences with CoP? I am a huge advocate of CoP and PLN and have been trying to get something along these lines happening at my institution for many years, without much success. In my language school, we have two campuses very geographically separate, and yet our teaching, day to day, is identical. With the challenges of updating our curriculum to reflect new practices, and with the difficulties we all share as we attempt to introduce digital technology to the classroom, it makes perfect sense to have a central location online, where staff from anywhere can discuss these issues, successes and failures and try to solve these issues collaboratively. However, I am, it seems, in a minority in this respect, and the management is unwiling to either recommend or facilitate any organised approach to a CoP.

I enjoyed reading the post and comments around the blog post by Lisa Plenty (here) in which she also noted the quote by Davidson and Goldberg (2009, p.30) when discussing the power of networked, collaborative learning; one of their ‘ten pillars of institutional pedagogy’. She also made reference to the barrier that I hear most often in my own situation, that teachers feel they “don’t have time” to spend both on learning new methods, or for discussing these methods. Researchers such as Ertmer and Ottenbreit-Leftwich (2010) have long been pointing out the need to tackle ingrained teacher beliefs in their own self-efficacy, and the efficacy of technology in education, as well as the need to establish a new culture within education to foster more positive attitudes. Providing an environment where a positive attitude towards collaboration and discussion is supported with time and effective processes, I think would be an excellent first step in my institution. Without this in place, how can we expect our teachers to be placing a correct value on collaboration in their classrooms?


For my own records and curation – I’ve copied the image (from Scarlat, Maracine & Maries, 2011) used in module 2.1 which demonstates the complex interweaving of internalised and externalised practices around information, and how articulates into ‘knowledge’ and learning:

Knowledge feedback mechanism (Scarlat, Maracine & Maries, 2011)

In addition, Julie included this quote from Seely Brown (2008) which encapsualtes his view of how the application of these kinds of participatory knowledge practices can lead to both deeper and life-long learning:

The building blocks provided by the Open Educational Resources (OER) movement, along with e-Science and e-Humanities and the resources of the Web 2.0, are creating the conditions for the emergence of new kinds of open participatory learning ecosystems that will support active, passion-based learning: Learning 2.0. This new form of learning begins with the knowledge and practices acquired in school but is equally suited for continuous, lifelong learning that extends beyond formal schooling. Indeed, such an environment might encourage students to readily and happily pick up new knowledge and skills as the world shifts beneath them. (Seely Brown, 2008)


Cox, M.J. (2012), Formal to informal learning with IT: research challenges and issues for e-learning. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2729.2012.00483.x. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2729.2012.00483.x

Davidson, C. N., & Goldberg, D. T. (2009). The future of learning institutions in a digital age. The MIT Press.

Ertmer, P. A., & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A. T. (2010). Teacher technology change: How knowledge, confidence, beliefs, and culture intersect. Journal of research on Technology in Education42(3), 255-284. Retrieved http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ882506.pdf 

Scarlat, E., Maracine, V., & Maries, I. (2011). 2 – Modelling the dynamics of knowledge flow within networked communities of professionals. In G. Trentin (Ed.), Technology and Knowledge Flow (pp. 27–50). Chandos Publishing. Retrieved from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9781843346463500022

Seely Brown, J. (2008). Open education, the long tail, and learning 2.0. Educause review, 43(1), 16-20. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/minds-fire-open-education-long-tail-and-learning-20

Wenger, E. (2011). Communities of practice: A brief introduction. Retrieved from https://scholarsbank.uoregon.edu/xmlui/handle/1794/11736