Friday, April 2, 2010

Week 12 R685 Community of practice

Dr. Bonk helped me contact two consultants with experience developing community of practices (CoP). I spoke with Josh Plashkoff and John Smith and I've read Digital Habitats co-authored by John Smith. Here are some things that I learned from these conversations:
  • CoP are mislabeled as teams. This assumes the group has a particular set of tasks that are part of a team. CoP's are more like neighorhoods where individuals have shared interests, live and work together and provide mutual support. Individuals get together to talk, share ideas, learn much as neighbors do over their backyard fences.
  • Technology is just a tool that CoP's use. There were CoPs before computers.
  • CoPs are all about relationships. Face to face can help establish relationships in a dispersed group. But relationships involve things like trust, personal disclosure, common interests. Friendship can be part of CoP characteristics.
  • CoPs occur around a domain or a practice. What do they talk about? What issues do members share?
  • Both Josh and John suggest that CoPs can't be created by management decree. Rather they occur naturally but can be helped through facilitation to evolve, grow.

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