What is a CoP? "...CoPs are groups of people who come together to share and learn from one another - either face-to-face or virtually - are held together by a common interest in a body of knowledge and are driven by a desire and need to share problems, experiences, insights, templates, tools, and best practices." -
A community of practice (CoP) is a term now widely-used in several disciplines to describe groups of people who share interests, collective vision for a project or even direction for an entire field. CoPs evolve organically due to members' interests in ideas that make up their domain and may be fostered through knowledge sharing. It is through sharing information and experiences with each other that members learn and make it possible to develop personally and professionally (Lave & Wenger 1991). CoPs can also co-exist in a digital context using social media such as blogs, wikis and web 2.0 media. The cultural anthropologists, Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger, described this learning perspective in the 1990s but the practice has obviously existed for as long as people have been come together to talk, share and create things. In 2009, Wenger, White and Smith recontextualized communities of practice for digital environments in their book Digital habitats: stewarding technology for communities. Of note in the book is the idea of "technology stewards" which recalls the importance of librarians and our work in the digital age.
The question is: Can we build a digital 'community of practice' in medicine? Is it even feasible?
- Lave, Jean, & Wenger, Etienne. (1991). Situated Learning; Legitimate Peripheral Participation (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991).
- The notion of a Community of practice was introduced in 1991; "Learning itself is an improvised practice: a learning curriculum unfolds in opportunities for engagement in practice." pg. 93
- Wenger, Etienne, White, Nancy, Smith John D. Digital habitats: stewarding technology for communities. 2009.
- Technology has changed what it means for communities to “be together.” Digital tools are now part of most communities’ habitats. This book develops a new literacy and language to describe the practice of stewarding technology for communities.
- Wenger, Etienne. Communities of practice; Learning, Meaning and Identity (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998).
- Wenger, E., McDermott, R., & Snyder, W.M. (2002). Cultivating communities of practice: A guide to managing knowledge. Boston: Harvard Business School Press. "How to do it" informed by theory http://hbswk.hbs.edu/archive/2855.html
- Lave, Jean, "The Practice of Learning", p 3-32 in Seth Chaiklin and Jean Lave (eds) Understanding Practice; perspectives on activity and context (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993). From preface: "Participants agreed, on the whole, on four premises concerning knowledge and learning in practice:
- "Knowledge always undergoes construction and transformation in use
- "Learning is an integral aspect of activity in and with the world at all times. That learning occurs is not problematic.
- "What is learned is always complexly problematic.
- "Acquisition of knowledge is not a simple matter of taking in knowledge; rather, things assumed to be natural categories, such as 'bodies of knowledge,' 'learners,' and 'cultural transmission,' require reconceptualization as cultural, social products."
- Wenger, E. (2001). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning and identity. http://www.co-i-l.com/coil/knowledge-garden/cop/lmi.shtml http://www.co-i-l.com/coil/knowledge-garden/cop/lmi.shtml
- Kuhn, T. (2002). Negotiating boundaries between scholars and practitioners: Knowledge, networks, and communities of practice.
- Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of Practice: Learning as a Social System. http://www.ewenger.com/pub/pub_systems_thinker_wrd.doc http://www.ewenger.com/pub/pub_systems_thinker_wrd.doc
- David Barton and Karin Tusting (eds.) Beyond Communities of Practice; Language, Power, and Social Context (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005). http://www.cambridge.org/us/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521544920
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