A Community of Practice, otherwise known as CofP, is a term whose definition is as old as civilisation.

Investigated by Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger, it defines a group of any size of people who have something in common and a “…learning partnership between its members “ (Wenger)

There are three necessary elements to a CofP according to Wenger.

They are:

1. The CofP perceive them selves as distinct from larger society. It is not about being a social group but a clear group whose “people are engaged in the same practice” (Wenger) or interest. This is known as the DOMAIN

2. The aim of the group’ s learning is common and on going, and therefore establishes long-term relationships between its members. These members are the COMMUNITY.

3. Lastly, the Cof P is specifically made up of practitioners not just conversationalists. Their learning is over a period of time and relative to their domain. This is the PRACTICE element.

Therefore, in summary:


As Mezirow (1991) defines, we all have frameworks of reference in learning and life which can be simply defined as concepts, values, experience and responses. When these frameworks are challenged by critical thinking individuals or with a group of people, then they transform our learning.

The CofP allows for this transformation of learning. 



Filed under Communities of Practice

20 responses to “COMMUNITIES of PRACTICE

  1. Great work Rita. Your PLN is coming along nicely and more importantly your grasp of the content is coming along nicely. I see that you have worked out how to tag a post – well done.
    Your challenge (with no instructions) is to add the twitter widget so that your tweets automatically display on your homepage.

  2. fin

    HI Adam..I think it works, can you Twitter me 🙂


  3. fin

    Yes, 5 is good…husband laughing (supportingly) cause “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” of the ICT world is moving up her hill…slowly but getting there

  4. Rita-look at you!
    I feel like the dinosaur now-how do you link your PLN to twitter?
    love your definition of a CoP and how it ties in with transformative thinking.
    I understand how they both fit in together now. Sometimes I feel I am chasing my tail with the readings and don’t connect the dots.
    Thanks for the clarification,

    • fin

      Hi Nuala, don’t despair,I am still “prehistoric”. To add the Twitter widget I did it the same way we added the other ones for the class exercises ie Dashboard-appearance-widget and then scroll to add “Twitter Timeline”. When you do that it will give you some steps to follow and then the important part is it will ask for the # in the URL…it is the long number in the URL. Add that as per the instructions and save. If all else fails, ring me! :)Rita

  5. Hi,

    Your PLN is taking shape!

    I really like your definition of a CofP; I like how you’ve discussed all the elements – domain, community and practice. Have you considered the communities of practice in the education setting?

    • fin

      CofP in an educational setting are becoming almost “pre-requisites” for a productive, dynamic, collaborative classroom. The obvious considerations would be the age level of the educational setting which would determine the interactivity and content but it definitely re-informs: classroom design, curriculum format and teaching / learning implementation.

  6. Hi,
    You have really shed light on what a CofP is for people that need a quick introduction to it!

  7. Gosh, your PLN is amazing!

    I really liked how you mentioned that the community needs to see themselves as having made a commitment to a long-term relationship. Such a great observation and simply explained in your post.


    • fin

      HI Mel, thanks for the affirmation of my PLN. I have worked hard on it but I have loved doing it. I will definitely miss this sort of input though when the uni unit finishes.

  8. spaceforlearning

    Hi Rita,
    Where do you think the line lies between a CofP being “distinct from larger society” and including peripheral members and friends of the community, such an intellectual neighbor? (Wenger et al. 2002)
    I’m enjoying exploring your blog!

    • fin

      HI Genevieve,
      Good question! CofP, in my understanding, are more succinct. Yes they can be global yet very immediate in their purpose.
      If I can give you an analogy of a group bushwalking. (NB: the group is not CofP because it simply bushwalks together though). There will be people in that group who will want to deviate off the path but as a group they are heading towards a goal eg mountain top. Some will go off a different track, others around different trees but all along supporting each other to reach the top. Within the same bush, could be another group who are more interested in exploring the waterfalls. They then will follow a different track for a different purpose.
      The two groups may be “larger society” but each group is a specific CofP supporting each member towards the same interest.
      To take it further, there may be those who are interested in the other CofP eg waterfall to mountain top, and hence peripheral till they feel they can be committed to which “way” they are going. They may be one CofP one week and return the following week as part of the other. The point is, the purpose, the learning, the interaction and support…not the agreement.


  9. Wow! I agree with everyone else your PLN is looking fantastic! your definition of a CoP is great however I love your equation, great way to remember it put simply!

    • fin

      Thanks for your positive support…just like everyone, I am trying to make sense of it all. Reading back on earlier readings it seems like there were “hidden” things that I am now referring back to so expect more blogging 🙂

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