- Focus on how learner learning can be stimulated through learning in communities of practice at institutions of higher education in South Africa and Europe
- Explore and describe ways of developing learning communities as well as determine the feasibility of doing so.
- Study consists of 6 phases:
- Developing a theoretical framework for communities of practice
- Exploring preliminary learners’ attitudes towards communities of practice
- Forming pilot communities of practice
- Evaluating pilot communities of practice groups
- Implementing action research to pilot communities of practice
- Applying the communities of practice model to other groups
- Paper highlights phase one of the process
- Significant finding in the study is 15 criteria for evaluating communities of practice
- This paper comprised a literature study to determine which CoP theoretical perspectives and models exist and to compile criteria for developing CoP
Types of knowledge:
Explicit knowledge – the knowledge that exists in documents, databases and as part of processes
Tacit knowledge – embedded in people and their experiences
Areas of learner knowledge:
- Tacit knowledge
- School knowledge
- Innovative and construct knowledge
Knowledge creation is a process of communication between explicit and tacit knowledge
Learning theories relevant to communities of practice:
- Behaviourist Theory – focuses on stimulus-response events & on the significance of contiguity, repetition and reinforcement leading to conditioning
- Critical Theory – a useful vehicle for illuminating the ways that we can use emotions both to recreate and to change social structures in any educational setting
- Activity theory – 3 components (artefacts, rules, division of effort) – a subject who performs an activity with the support of community and produces an object which leads to an outcome. An activity system interacts with a network of other activity systems (e.g. management and academics)
- Personality Theory – emphasises the description of individual features of personality and its structure in terms of cognitive -affective units that include goal-orientated, feed-forward and feedback components
- Social learning theory – highlights the importance of observing and modelling the behaviours, attitudes and emotional reactions of others
- Situated learning – learning occurs if the person is actively involved in the learning process – learning that occurs is a function of the activity, context, and culture in which it takes place
- Constructivist Theory – learning is an active process where learners construct new ideas or concepts based on their current or past knowledge
- The theory of communities of practice – views learning as occurring through and from participation in social practice within communities of practice – learning is at the centre
Criteria for CoPs (from learning theories)
- CoP should support agile methods and strategies
- CoP should develop a learner’s practical skills, attitudes, and values through experiential and guided participatory learning
- CoP should develop a learner’s reflective experiences
- CoP should shape a learner’s behaviour through sequencing of instruction
- CoP should engage a learner in emotional reflection
- CoP should empower consciousness and meaning through joint, collective activity and feedback control
- CoP should utilise the dynamics of the activity system: artefacts, rules, and division of effort.
- CoP should emphasise an activity which leads to an innovative outcome.
- CoP should pay attention to the ‘individual style of activity’.
- CoP should acknowledge individual features of personality.
- CoP should support joint enterprise between management, academics, and technology.
- CoP should engage attention, memory, motivation, and retention.
- CoP should encourage multidisciplinary tacit knowledge-sharing between learners, supervisors in academia and entrepreneurs.
- CoP should acknowledge that learning is a function of the activity, context, and culture.
- CoP should support learning through cognitive and practical apprenticeship
(Jakovljevic, Buckley, & Bushney, 2013)
Jakovljevic, M., Buckley, S., & Bushney, M. (2013). Forming communities of practice in higher education: a theoretical perspective. International Conference on Management, Knowledge and Learning, 1107–1119. Retrieved from http://uir.unisa.ac.za/handle/10500/10473