Foundations of Communities of Practice

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Communities of practice have become a cornerstone of the knowledge strategy of leading organizations. Yet understanding how these largely informal, voluntary, and self-organizing communities actually work still presents a challenge for most organizations. Without an understanding of their dynamics and composition, community initiatives can be wasteful, ineffective or even harmful.

Join us and an international group of practitioners for this unique on-line workshop. Learn what communities of practice are, why they are fundamental to knowledge-based organizations, how to develop, nurture, and leverage them, and how to build a knowledge strategy around them.

Faculty: The workshop is presented in a seminar format by Etienne Wenger-Trayner, a leading thinker and practitioner in the field, in collaboration with John David Smith, a community coach and technologist and Bronwyn Stuckey, an educational researcher and online facilitator. Guest speakers and mentors augment the conversation, extend the network and deepen the connection with actual practice.

Format: Apart from the telephone conferences on the Monday of each week, the workshop is taught completely on the Web (with some email interactions as well). You need e-mail access, an up-to-date Web browser and a phone to participate.  You will also need to be able to edit a Google Doc.

Schedule: The workshop is held over the course of six weeks, varying in intensity and focus, as suggested below. As it demonstrates many elements of an active community of practice but compresses the experience into a short period of time, most participants spend between 20 and 50 hours over the course of the six weeks reading, writing, and collaborating with other participants. Some people find themselves spending more time than that. The overview of the workshop schedule suggests the range of activities that go on during the workshop.
  • Week 1 – Community launch: software, community and workshop familiarization
  • Week 2 – Domain inquiry
  • Week 3 – Domain inquiry and guest speaker
  • Week 4 – Projects and practice
  • Week 5 – Projects, practice, and guest speaker
  • Week 6 – Community transition and reflection

Topics: The workshop explores a broad range of topics, including:

  • The composition and life cycle of communities of practice.
  • The function of communities of practice in the development and transmission of knowledge.
  • Techniques for stimulating, connecting and assessing communities.
  • Uses of technology for drawing global communities together effectively.
  • Successful community strategies at leading companies.

Tuition: Tuition for this workshop is $995 USD. Non-profits and international NGOs pay $795. Full time students pay $595. (Note: you are expected to participate in the hour-long phone teleconferences. To connect with the teleconferences, you call a US telephone number or use Skype.)

Participants are invited to continue their exploration with a complimentary 6-month membership in CPsquare upon completion of the workshop.

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