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There are many ways of conceptualizing a community of practice. In an effort to coalesse a set of best practices for building effective communities of practice - and to understand the shared experiences of individuals who lead and participate in a variety of communities of practice - we needed to level-set around what we mean by the term Community of Practice (CoP).
To develop a shared understanding of the topic, community leaders and members shared their own definitions (below) and Examples/Case Studies to illuminate their experience. Common attributes include:
A group of people;
Shared interest or affinity (often, a profession);
Engagement or shared activity with each other;
A reason or purpose for interacting (often, a purpose beyond individual gain); and
Often, mutual support, learning, and/or growth.
Key elements are that we have shared goals, strong facilitation, and actual outcomes. Strong communities of practice are like this where we’re producing something for the greater good (Christine Kroll).
A group of passionate people committed to sharing for the greater good. People are both contributing and feel good about what they’re contributing, but also able to go in and pull info to share with others (Lisa Stephens).
People, drawn together by a shared interest or set of interests and often operating in blended environments, gathering to learn and to produce concrete results to the benefit of the community and those it serves (Paul Signorelli).
A community of practice is made up of individuals with common interests and passions who want to learn from each other, share ideas, discover solutions, and collaborate in order to reach a common goal or set of outcomes (Jenna Linskens).