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Building Community Through Communities of Practice and Learning Communities Jeffrey D. Samuels, Goucher College Chadia Abras, Goucher.

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Presentation on theme: "Building Community Through Communities of Practice and Learning Communities Jeffrey D. Samuels, Goucher College Chadia Abras, Goucher."— Presentation transcript:

1 Building Community Through Communities of Practice and Learning Communities Jeffrey D. Samuels, Goucher College Chadia Abras, Goucher College (in absentia) ©Copyright Jeffrey Samuels and Chadia Abras, 2006.

2 Part I – Learning Community History 297 (Latin American History II) An idyllic course to teach: 5 students, all seniors, all Latin American Studies or History majors and minors; met twice a week face to face on Tuesdays and Thursdays; 2 were former students; 1 was a student technology manager; 1 was proficient in Spanish. Crosby Grant (internal) supported integration of technology into the course to significantly alter the way it was taught. Learning Community akin to Community of Interest (not the more widespread definition)

3 Hybrid or Blended course modality; allows for a seminar approach at the 200 level, normally reserved for the 300 level. Three specific aspects of technology included purposeful and targeted pedagogical use of the discussion boards in Blackboard, a Javascript timeline application, and a course wiki.

4 Tenets of the Learning Community incorporated into the course: –Instructor as facilitator –Students as participants –Frequent communication –Facilitator to participant, participant to participant, and participant to material –Transparent assessment (rubrics) –Facilitator shares in assignment responsibilities

5 The back end of the course design: Previous coursework on teaching online courses effectively Quality Matters History Department assessment criteria compiled as part of a large self-study within the Academic Division – delineated goals for the course that will need to be measured

6 Site Visits –Timelines –Wiki –Types and purposes of discussion topics –Assessment rubrics for students to follow and submit (optionally)

7 Part II – Community of Practice Community of Practice – why? Lack of established community in our region for similar centers for teaching and learning Interest among a core group for collaboration and interaction Annual CTLT Conference with a large local and regional following Desire to use the latest conference (May, 2005) as a launching pad for a sustained momentum Desire to have an overall framework for some of the CTLTs programs, to which colleagues are invited.

8 Initially, we consulted with Dr. Chadia Abras, our Director of Distance Learning and a scholar who specializes in online communities. The CTLT offered the services of our Graduate Intern, who also did coursework under Dr. Abras direction and as an independent study, examined the scholarship and practices. The community also grew out of the last CTLT Conference theme, Group Dynamics and Collaborative Learning, and from a day-long workshop we did with our keynote speaker who specializes in high-performance culture.

9 Our goal: to integrate the tenets developing a learning community, focusing on measures of sociability, with established protocols for action research and surveying. This was approached by multistage processes, as illustrated by the next 2 slides.

10 Community-centered development approach assessing the needs of the community nurture the community test sociability and usability select technology plan for sociability test prototype Evaluate

11 The circular nature of action research diagnosing specifying learning evaluatin g action planning action taking

12 Initial Survey Community of Practice_OI.htm

13 The back end of our Community of Practice

14 Definition A community of practice (CoP) is a group of professionals who come together in pursuit of solutions to shared goals and interests. In this pursuit, they employ the same practices, share the same ideas, work with the same tools, and use the same language (McDermott, 1999; Preece, 2004; Wenger, 1998).

15 Domains of CoPs Wenger (1998) describes three important dimensions to CoP: –i) a domain of knowledge that is common to the members of the group, –ii) a community of people bound together into a social entity, in which they interact, build relationships and trust, –iii) a practice in which the members develop a shared repertoire, resources, tools, and build an accumulated knowledge of the community (Allee, 2000). We added: –iv) the software, tools, and technologies that facilitate the groups interactions, stores their knowledge, and disseminate it in a logical, comprehensible manner.

16 Social Theory of Practice The components of a social theory of learning include the following: Meaning: a way of talking about our (changing) ability – individually and collectively – to experience our life and the world as meaningful. Practice: a way of talking about a shared historical and social recourses, frameworks, and perspectives that can sustain mutual engagement in action. Community: a way of talking about the shared historical configurations in which our enterprises are defined as worth pursuing and our participation is recognizable as competence. Identity: a way of talking about how learning changes who we are and creates personal histories of becoming in the context of our communities. (Wenger, 1998, p. 5)

17 Whats Next? Distinguish between CoP and CoI Study participation rates Assess quality of participation Assess roles within the Community (owners, facilitators, fans, lurkers) Determine when it is time to move to the next stage in the circular cycle Continue to involve CoP/I participants in other CTLT activities Move toward determining our next Annual Conference theme as an outgrowth of the Community Investigate other communities, both successful and not-yet-successful

18 Thank you! Contact information: Jeffrey D. Samuels Goucher College Handout can be downloaded at: samuels-abras.pdf

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