Defining Communities of Practice

  • Groups of people that are bound together informally by a level of shared expertise and passion for a particular topical area (Wenger & Snyder, 1999).
  • Wenger and Snyder (1999) continue to define the characteristics of communities of practice by stating that “people in communities of practice share their experiences and knowledge in free-flowing, creative ways that foster new approaches to problems.”
  • Through the exchange of information and dialogue, communities of practice develop and refine knowledge and, consequently, are referred to as ‘knowledge communites’ within knowledge management circles (Lueg, 2002).
  • The main ‘output’ of communities of practice is knowledge (Wenger & Snyder, 1999).

Tools to Develop Online Communities of Practice

Cultivating Online Communities of Practice

  • Create a Safe Environment for the Exchange of Information
  • Engage Users Quickly
    • Develop Quick Understanding of "What is it For"
    • Give Visitors Something to DO
    • Promote Interesting Content from Community
  • Let Users Express Themselves
    • Allow Users to Develop Individualized Profiels
    • Find Ways to Give Users Their Own Voice
    • Allow Users to Develop 'Street Cred/Social Capital'
  • Be Dynamic
    • Create Community Events
    • Highlight Content
    • Feature Users
  • Grouping
    • Let Users Define Groups
    • Provide Topical Groups or "Special Groups"
  • Make it Easy to Communicate
    • Multiple Means of Communication (Email, Wall Postings, Instant Messaging, etc.)
    • Allows Multiple Content Types to be Shared (Text, Audio, Video, etc.)
  • Keep it Simple