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From [[http://cpsquare.org CPsquare]], the community of practice on communities of practice.
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... part of the technology for communities project,
started off by the authors of [Digital Habitats], Etienne Wenger, Nancy White, and John D. Smith.

Definition

Facilities that help members find their way around a community space, its various areas of interactions, repositories, and subgroups, as well as its tools and facilities.

Uses in communities of practice

Since technologies allow communities to handle greater volumes of information, navigation tools become significant for organizing access and activity to larger and more complex information spaces.

  1. Where are things?
  2. What can I do?
  3. Where am I?
  4. How do I find things?

Polarities

  • Together/apart, Synch/Asynch:
  • Interaction/publication:
  • Individual/group:

Key features

  • Site map: A static description of the various areas and tools available in the site.
    • Useful to see the various areas, but often not dynamic to represent content.
  • Site index: A dynamically generated representation of the content of the site that allows a member to see the whole site at a glance. Sometimes this is implemented as an explorer-like fashion that opens folders, and sometimes as a whole list.
    • A community site can become quite complex as people open new conversations in various topic areas. Changes are very dynamic. When one visits the community site, it is useful to have an overview of places of activity to organize one's visit. If links open in new windows, the site index can be used as a navigational device.
    • Useful information includes:
      • 1. Total activity: i.e., how many postings or documents in this area in total
      • 2. New activity: i.e., how many new postings or documents in this area (see under "new" indicators)'
      • 3. Links: clicking on the name of an area takes you there in a new window.
  • Persistent navigation bar: A bar that makes the most common areas and tools available wherever one is.
    • Consistency across areas has to be balanced with need for some local adaptation.
  • Breadcrumb trails: This is a trail of levels from the entry page to the page where a person is.
    • It is easy to get lost in complex community sites, especially if one can jump to an area through cross-linking or searching.

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