Graham Attwell’s post on a chaired presentation to the Alt C conference in Nottingham on International CoPs, included this excerpt by George Roberts-
“Communities of practice are emergent organisations with tacit but clearly identifiable rules and other signs of identity: shared goals, shared values, shared symbolic artefacts. These may be codified but as often as not tacit community rules transgress or subvert codified, formal rules. We start from the position that although it now commonplace to recognise the existence of CoPs, the processes underpinning their development are still poorly understood. In particular, it has been found to be difficult in practice to create or facilitate the development of CoPs“.
George’s video cites Scott Wilson’s categories of CoPs:Practice/Interest/Action/Purpose/circumstance/position. George talks of the boundaries of cohesion necessary for these communities, but stresses the importance of openness to new ideas and people. This resonates with Tom Haskins recent posts ‘the changing debate‘ -where he puts foward four principles for overcoming impass between communities (in this case the LMS V PLE debate). George Roberts calls on the need for new comers to feel valued and welcomed in the communities, and the importance of other communities to recognise the value of each others work.
This also harps back to the notion of valuing the ‘lurker’ – as legitimate peripheral participation (Lave & Wenger) and Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development. But heres the rub- most people are only interested in signing up to a community which has a higher order of knowledge. So its a fine balance to subscribe them to something to which they have some knowledge, and ensure they are supported in contributing to the discussions – thereby becoming a member of the ‘inner sanctum’ (or at least contributing to the shared knowledge).