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Communities of Practice: An Introduction for Technical Communication Tracy Bridgeford, University of Omaha Communities of Practice Definition.

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Presentation on theme: "Communities of Practice: An Introduction for Technical Communication Tracy Bridgeford, University of Omaha Communities of Practice Definition."— Presentation transcript:

1 Communities of Practice: An Introduction for Technical Communication Tracy Bridgeford, University of Omaha Communities of Practice Definition a community of practice is a group of people who share a common interest in a particular practice and who continually negotiate that practice in order to learn more about it Goal to become a learning community Joint Enterprise (value) joint, not because everyone agrees, but because it is communally negotiated; it is what the community’s all about; It is a comprehensive picture of a community’s practice, which is defined in the process of pursing it It is not necessarily a stated goal, but created among participants’ relations of mutual accountability

2 Communities of Practice: An Introduction for Technical Communication Tracy Bridgeford, University of Omaha Identity MeaningPractice Negotiation Mutual Engagement Joint Enterprise Ownership of Meaning Aspects of Learning in a COP

3 Communities of Practice: An Introduction for Technical Communication Tracy Bridgeford, University of Omaha Shared repertoire of ways of doing things includes what is developed in order to do what the community wants to do Shared history of learning Reflects history of community routines, gestures, words, tools, ways of doing things, stories, gestures, symbols, genres, actions or concepts Inherently ambiguous provides for possible interpretations of meaning Explicit and implicit knowledge Explicit Knowledge language, tools, documents, images, symbols, roles, criteria, procedures, regulations & contracts Implicit Knowledge conventions, perceptions, sensitivities, assumptions, shared world views Resources for negotiating meaning History of negotiated meanings Allows for possibilities for new interpretations Identity MeaningPractice

4 Communities of Practice: An Introduction for Technical Communication Tracy Bridgeford, University of Omaha Identity MeaningPractice Always a product of negotiation in social contexts Not made up by members Not imposed on us by society What learning produces Productive process gives us a way of talking about our abilities how we experience the world and our engagement in it as meaningful Framework for articulating what we know Gradual achievement Sustained engagement in pursuit a joint enterprise Creates “practice” (“knowing” as opposed to knowledge) Meaning

5 Communities of Practice: An Introduction for Technical Communication Tracy Bridgeford, University of Omaha Identity MeaningPractice Identity Form a competence What carries use from experience to experience Form of belonging Orients us within a community Way of being in a community We know who we are by what is familiar, understandable, usable, and negotiable. We know who are not by what is foreign, opaque, unwieldy, and unproductive Worked out in practice through negotiations of meaning Produced as an experience of participation Ongoing

6 Communities of Practice: An Introduction for Technical Communication Tracy Bridgeford, University of Omaha Identity MeaningPractice Negotiation Mutual Engagement Competent Membership Ownership of Meaning

7 Communities of Practice: An Introduction for Technical Communication Tracy Bridgeford, University of Omaha Engagement in a community’s joint enterprise Involves our ability to connect to what’s meaningful in a community Connects participants to each other Relations grow out of practice, not idealized perspectives of a community Management of community’s boundaries Aligning relations, interests, skills, and knowledge Commitment to competence Complementary relationship Our own competence Contributions and knowledge of others Mutual Engagement

8 Communities of Practice: An Introduction for Technical Communication Tracy Bridgeford, University of Omaha Duality of Meaning Reification Making into a thing Certain understanding Way of projecting our meanings Give form to our experiences Participation Active process Social experience of living in the world Possibility of mutual recognition Possibility of developing an identity of participation Negotiation

9 Communities of Practice: An Introduction for Technical Communication Tracy Bridgeford, University of Omaha Competent Membership Recognizes what constitutes competent in particular community Responsibility Makes proposals of meaning Accepts proposals from others Develops an identity of participation Accountability Includes what matters, what doesn’t, what to do and not to do, what to pay attention to and what to ignore, what to talk about and what to leave unsaid, what to justify and what to take for granted, what to display and what to withhold, when actions and artifacts over are good enough and when they need improvement or refinement. Ownership of Meaning

10 Communities of Practice: An Introduction for Technical Communication Tracy Bridgeford, University of Omaha Members are informally connected by a shared body of knowledge This characteristic includes shared ways of working, expectations for belonging, and rules for negotiating meaning characteristic of a particular community. Members share a body of knowledge that defines their problems and solutions in ways that reflect their membership in a particular community. Members share common practices and language This characteristic refers to the ways people naturally work and play together. In essence, communities of practice are groups of people who share similar goals and interests and how to talk about their practices. In pursuit of these goals and interests, they employ common practices, work with the same tools and express themselves using a common language. Through such common activity, they come to hold similar beliefs and value systems. So, to review...

11 Communities of Practice: An Introduction for Technical Communication Tracy Bridgeford, University of Omaha Members share a common sense of purpose This characteristic refers to how members work together in the execution of their practice; that is, their real work. Members are held together by a “common sense of purpose and a real need to know what each other knows” (Brown & Gray). There are many communities of practice within a single company, and most people belong to more than one of them. Members understand practice as a life-long learning process of mutual engagement This characteristic refers to how members emphasize the learning they have done together and their familiarity with the shared histories of learning characteristic of a particular group. They collaborate directly, use one another as sounding boards, and teach each other. More than a community of learners, a community of practice is also a community that learns. Members are committed to each other Members share and benefit from each other's expertise. They are colleagues committed to jointly developing better practices. So, to review...


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