CPsquare field trips project

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CPsquare field trips -- visits to living communities
quarterly excursions to online communities, open to CPsquare members and friends,
organized and presented in cooperation with SCOPE Community Enthusiasts.

Context and purpose

The practice of visiting communities has a long history in and around CPsquare. "Field Trips" are an important element of the Foundations Workshop. Bronwyn Stuckey develops the practice and gives it depth in her dissertation and Community Capers project. Most recently, the idea for Virtual Field Trips came about during the Online Community Enthusiasts event in Vancouver, British Columbia, May, 2009. We decided that the opportunity to visit communities with the help of a tour guide, and using a specific framework as a lens on the community, would be an excellent mutual exchange among community leaders and enthusiasts. Tourists (enthusiasts) can get ideas and insights from seeing other communities, and the tour guides (leaders) can benefit from the expertise of the enthusiasts. Alice McGillivray proposed the idea and suggested the framework we're currently exploring. Perhaps selected communities will be examined more closely using the "capers" case study format.


We intend to hold a minimum of 4 field trip per year, in February, May, August, and November. Each event will be announced in the CPsquare blog and resources will be tagged with CP2qft tag on http://delicious.com .

See this list of communities we've visited previously.


We're evolving the format for these visits on this very Wiki: Participating in CPsquare field trips. The field trips will be scheduled for 1 hour using Elluminate or similar platform that allows web tours or application sharing. Each tour will have a page on the CPsquare wiki, serving as a preparation- or launch-page and as a place to post relevant links and notes afterward.


Having an explicit itinerary brings out more issues and sets us up for a richer conversation. We are experimenting with the C4P model as a matter of curiosity and convenience (not necessarily claiming that it is the model for comparing communities).

C4P model

Hoadley, C. M., & Kilner, P. G. (2005). Using technology to transform communities of practice into knowledge-building communities. ACM SIG-GROUP Bulletin, 25(1), 31-40. (Discussed and elaborated in MacGillivray, A. "Knowledge Intensive Work in a Network of Counter-Terrorism Communities" in Handbook of Research on Knowledge-Intensive Organizations edited/authored by J. Kociatkiewicz & D. Jemielniak(Eds.), (Hershey, PA: IGI Global, 2008). http://www.igi-global.com/reference/details.asp?id=33145

For our first community field trip we used the C4P model, developed by the US Military. This model uses uses 5 overlapping elements to describe a community's purpose: Content, Connections, Conversation, Context, and Purpose.

Adapted from Hoadley and Kilner "Using Technology to Transform Communities of Practice into Knowledge-Building Communities" ACM SIGGROUP Bulletin, Volume 25, Issue 1 (January 2005)

  • Content: What explicit knowledge objects such as documents or video clips are created or shared in this community?
  • Connections: What interpersonal contacts between community members (e.g., that facilitate relationship-building between community members) can you observe?
  • Conversation: what face-to-face or online conversations are going on?
  • Context: what context gives meaning to the content, connections and conversations in this community?
  • Purpose: why do the members of this community come together in this community?

The tour guide can describe the community using the 5 elements, perhaps noting any tensions in the way these areas are interconnected. This will be a great way to get feedback from individuals who have experience in online community leadership roles.

From MacGillivray, A. "Knowledge Intensive Work in a Network of Counter-Terrorism Communities" in Handbook of Research on Knowledge-Intensive Organizations edited/authored by J. Kociatkiewicz & D. Jemielniak(Eds.), (Hershey, PA: IGI Global, 2008). (PDF)

"In this model, content refers to explicit knowledge that can be codified and stored, in databases: standard operating procedures, for example. This information is pushed out in one direction, in contrast to conversation, which involves dialogue. Connections describe contacts that involve relationships between community members. Context “is the who, what, where, when, why, and how that enables community members to assess whether and how information is relevant to them”." (Hoadley & Kilner, 2005, p. 34).

Kilner describes what happens if elements are missing:

If content is absent, conversation is likely to have difficulty getting started and staying focused on the community’s purpose. If conversation is missing, knowledge may transfer but is unlikely to be generated. If connections are absent, there will be fewer contributions of content and conversation, and the contributions will have less context. If information context is absent, the community is prone to misinterpret content or apply knowledge inappropriately to new situations. Finally, without purpose, knowledge building will founder. A clear communal purpose gives meaning to content, provides direction to conversation, fosters connections, and is the unifying context for all activities in the community (2005, p. 33)."