In the Foundations of Communities of Practice (#FCoP09) workshop I am attending, I am learning a lot more about communities of practice than I expected. I was not really sure what to expect in this workshop, though I did anticipate (correctly, it seems) that I would meet a lot of interesting people, some of whom I hope become lasting colleagues.
I had a revelation over the weekend, partly due to a number of questions I asked about communities of practice (CoP) that were answered by Etienne Wenger, the CoP guru (and the one who, along with Jean Lave, coined the term). One of the things I learned in the last week is something I have heard more times than I can count about communities of practice (CoP), though it never sunk in until now.
A community of practice is primarily about learning.
This is a social learning framework, and with the 3 domains necessary for a community of practice (domain, community, practice), it seems they all contribute to the learning, whether the learning is the intentional goal or not.
I never really considered learning to be the focus of a community of practice, and this insight is now worth the price of admission for me. I finally get it . . . I now see how to accurately use this as a research framework, as well as how others have been doing this incorrectly . . .