Essential Question: What lessons might we take from successful (and unsuccessful) OCL Institutional Innovations and from the concept of the Community of Practice (CoP)?
“A community of practice is a group of individuals who shares their interests and problems with a specific topic, and gains a greater degree of knowledge of and expertise on a topic through their regular interaction” (Wenger et al., 2002). “Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern, a set of problems, or a passion about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting on an ongoing basis” (Harasim, 2012). CoPs are voluntary; participants are not required to attend. People attend them because they want to or have a desire to learn about something.
The Internet itself was the product of CoPs. The inventors were computer scientists who first worked together and then met together more online. “Tightly knit groups of professionals engaged in a common practice, who communicate, negotiate and share their best practice with one another directly together onsite and then, once the technology was invented and implemented, continued to work together online” (Harasim, 2012). To make a community successful everyone must have a voice and feel that they matter. Probst & Borzillo, (2008) said in order for CoP’s to be successful they must follow these 10 commandments of CoP governance:
- Stick to strategic objectives- make them clear and obtainable.
- Divide objectives into sub-topics- This gives the members precise information that they must share their practice.
- Form governance committees with sponsors and leaders- Members who meet regularly form a committee.
- Have a leader who is a “best practice control agent”- Members stay in contact with this person to obtain best practices.
- Regularly feed the group with external expertise- This can be experts from other organizations.
- Promote access to other networks- This increases active participation.
- The CoP leader must have a driver and prompter role- This increases the CoP attractiveness.
- Overcome hierarchy-related pressures- leaders remind members that they will not be judged.
- Provide the sponsor with measurable performance- This is looking at cost reduction, revenue increase, higher effectiveness and speed of operations.
- Illustrate results for members- They are encouraged to post their written experiences.
“Indeed, one of the major breakthroughs to emerge was a growing acknowledgment that online learning, with attention to pedagogical design, could be not only as good as face-to-face classroom education but better” (Harasim 2012). This was an “aha” moment for me. I did not know this or think this to be true. I am still not sure if I quite do, but I found this very interesting.
“A MOOC is an online course with the option of free and open registration, a publicly- shared curriculum, and open-ended outcomes. MOOCs integrate social networking, accessible online resources, and are facilitated by leading practitioners in the field of study. Most significantly, MOOCs build on the engagement of learners who self-organize their participation according to learning goals, prior knowledge and skills, and common interests” (McAuley et al., 2010). Like CoPs MOOCs are voluntary. Most people join a MOOC because they have the desire to learn something new.
To have a successful CoP or OCoP or MOOC you must have respect, teamwork, cooperation, integrity, and be willing to listen and learn. You must be willing to share new ideas and be willing to try new ideas. I think if participants followed this and some of the guidelines mentioned above, they can have a successful CoP, OCoP, or MOOC.
Harasim, L. M. (2012). Learning theory and online technology. New York, NY: Routledge.
Probst, G., & Borzillo, S. (2008). Why communities of practice succeed and why they fail. European Management Journal, 26(5), 335-347.
McAuley, A., Stewart, B., Siemens, G., & Cormier, D. (2010). The MOOC model for digital practice.