A Community of Practice

Topics: Internet forum, Social network, Community building Pages: 8 (2733 words) Published: January 30, 2013
A community of Practice using a discussion forum 21/05/2009
Community of Practice4


In light of new technology and the massive increase in social networking, it is understandable that educationalists are embracing and utilising these new technologies to develop courses and tap into the learner’s social needs, which could prove to be a lucrative source of motivation. However, motivation is not the only reason educationalists are integrating social networks into the course design, that is, there is also evidence that demonstrates social networks not only allow users to share interests, but the users also learn from one another and in some instances develop a relationship based on common skills or experiences.

The experiences of today’s learners are not always connected to the classroom, many learners are taking it upon themselves to join in communities and share their experiences with other community members. They are in fact learning and developing their own skills to succeed in work and in life and to share their findings since they have a common interest. These type of communities has developed significantly over recent times and can account for many of the communities of practices that exist in today’s society.

In the following assignment we will look at the factors that can influence learning in a social networking environment and how relationships are built within a community of practice, how learners of common goals come together and how they share practices. There are many different types of community of practices, but the writer will focus in the main on discussion forums due to personal experiences.

Community of Practice

A community of practice in its basic form can be classed as a community of people who share a common practice. But in reality it is much more than this, we can accentuate this if we look at what is meant by ‘a community’. A community is usually considered as a shared geographical location or a group of people such as Christians. We can see parallels with social networking communities, since users may form part of a group of people such as environmentalists and will share the same non-place community. The online users may even develop a sense of loyalty to this community and defend it, such as those who defend their community in a geographical setting (politically of course). The main distinction being that these non place communities are joined together via mutual interests. E.g. they have similar jobs that they discuss or shared ability or the same cultural backgrounds. That is, the types of online communities are born out of selfhood (Smith, Community' , 2001), i.e. a realisation of belonging in a non-place community; as long as others share a similar selfhood and they are willing to commit time and effort to a community then a successful community can be generated. In fact a social network contact is usually looked upon with higher importance than a contact in the same geographical area. For instance, experience has shown that some neighbours do not socialise within the geographical community which inevitably means there is no relationship to build on. When...
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