Community of Practice Struggles, Part 1

Tree Looking UpI have spent the past 2 hours catching up with colleagues and (perhaps) soon to be colleagues in the CP2 Community, where there have just been 2 Research and Dissertation Fests this week (one I could attend, and one I could not), as well as on Twitter.

Between reading and chatting on Twitter about Nancy White’s amazing recipe, seeing how other people I know were doing the same, discussing ways of using social media for community building (some direct Tweets I received and replied to about this topic), reading how Lilia Efimova had an idea and how she is considering blogging about this still unformed topic as she knows the benefits (and then she finally did blog about these thoughts), not to mention my chats with Jacquie McDonald, chatting about a research idea around Communities of Practice with Etienne Wenger (who did a discussion and co-facilitated the CP2 Foundations course I recently completed), and getting other ideas from colleagues via Direct Tweets, I realize I have a lot of interests and like reaching out to this distributed community.I also like their reaching out to me.

With all this, I wonder why I struggle with consciously enlarging my own community of practice. I tend, for example, not to look for people on Twitter and Facebook, but rather process all this if “friended” first. Perhaps I do not want to be pushy? rejected? or even seem needy? Ironic, as more and more of my work is in the area of communities of practice; perhaps more of my life should be there, too?

Learning Journal Postings for PhD, #2

learning-journalI started considering some of the things I learned in yesterday’s posting, and want to continue this work a little more today, this time considering our guiding question, “What really matters in my professional practice?” from a different perspective. I want to consider a bit about what I learned that has changed the way I approach my practice, mindful that my practice involves educational research, adult learning, and project management.

Word and Meaning (Transcription)

I recorded and transcribed my interviews. What I learned in the process is that what people say and what they mean may at times be different. Related, of course, but often what we begin to say and where we ultimately end up may in fact be different. To record and work only with the literal means that the result may appear clunky, awkward, and at times confusing. This then requires some interpretation, or polishing, not so much to push my own desire, but armed with strategies for trustworthiness and those methods that seek to support believability will enhance the findings and make them not only useful, but an interesting read as well.

New Methods to Stretch the Boundaries

Why always do the same forms of research? Comfort and continual improvement for sure, but that fire that excites me as I seek to study similar issues from different perspectives means that I have to stretch and use methods that are new to me. Using other methods to expand my research horizons, I find that I can gather, understand, and expand upon my findings in ways that help me enlarge my worldview. I see some issues in a more complicated and comprehensive way, so that those things I initially saw as monolithic, I now see more in the light of their own complexities. I definately want to expand on my toolkit of methods. If some aspects of life were sufficiently understandable, we would no longer need to research them!  

Reliance on Community (CoP)

I have learned that I am not struggling alone on my doctoral studies, as there are others out there engaged in the same process who are often quite helpful in offering feedback and encouragement. Likewise, there are those who seem interested in my research who are also very supportive of my work. The more I share what I am doing with my online community, and the more I offer feedback and suggestions to other colleagues who share and engage in their own work, the more my own online community of practice around some of these research issues is formed and strengthened.


The more I share my research, perspectives, and struggles with colleagues, the more I get great suggestions and useful insights. Nothing surprising here, but the difference that I am learning is that I do not have to pretend I understand it all, give the impression that I have a handle on my work, or wait to post until everything is clearly formed and finished. Since I am enjoying the process itself, I find that sharing that along the way is most valuable. Being transparent with my own research and meaning-making process often provides as much learning as the formal research itself.

With all this, I am interested to read what my small learning set (a subset of my cohort) has to offer when they comment on these concepts when I share them within our university Moodle Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Now that I think of it, the learning that occurs within there, just as the learning that occurs within the Foundations workshop VLE, ultimately finds its way into everything else I do.

Interesting how my life and my research are somewhat connected.

Foundations of CoP, Week 2

This week in CPsquare’s Foundations of Communities of Practice (CoP) workshop, Etienne Wenger will be facilitating our work around various domain issues, as we break down into smaller communities within the context of our larger community that comprises the workshop.We have already had a whirlwind week with hundreds of community postings. So many of our workshop participants seem so much mre outgoing and extroverted than I am, and while this may not be the case (just like many of our perceptions do not hold the entire story), I do feel a bit overwhelmed with so much activity.

cpsquare-with-bylineThis workshop is compised of a fascinating group of people, many of whom I hope to learn more about over the remaining 6 weeks, and I am very glad we will narrow things down a bit to begin working on whatever tasks we devise. With so many interesting backgrounds and such passion among the participants, I am now more intrigued about where we are going than when I started.

I wonder how many of them will ultimately plan to attend the Networked Learning Conference 2010, as a number of them already seem to be closer to Europe and Denmark than I am?

Foundations of Communities of Practice Workshop – Tonight!

foundations of CoP So, tonight begins CPsquare’s Foundations of Communities of Practice workshop. I have thought about taking this before, but neither the time nor the funding was flowing easily, so what better time than the present?!

I will be in the capable hands of Etienne Wenger, the CoP (Communities of Practice) guru, John D. Smith, a community coach and technologist with whom I have worked before, and Bronwyn Stuckey, an educational researcher and online facilitator whose navigation of time and space amazes me. I have read about and studied CoP for some time now, though really like the idea of focusing on it as an experience in itself.

As my doctoral program at Lancaster University is focused around the CoP (network learning) model, and as my recent research uses CoPs as the theoretical framework, I thought that spending some time with colleagues who have related interests may be a good experience.

Wonder what I will learn over the seven weeks, and how my own learning framework may develop . . .

CP2tech01 Connected Futures Workshop, Week One

cpsquare2 I have been Tweeting and posting on the various pages for the Connected Futures workshop much more than I have been blogging in the past few days. I suppose I have had more to say than I have had time to say it.

As one of our workshop expectations is to create a blog post reflecting on our first week, I think that what is strongest on my mind is how much I realize I want to learn more about the topics though, while somewhat disoriented from the amount of discussion and buzz and new tools and co-participants, I am not feeling overwhelmed. John and Bronwyn are both experts at facilitating and leading communities of practice, and they are doing a wonderful job juggling all the demands of this active adult professional audience, so much that they are setting a feeling of calm over the workshop. It feels safe to be disoriented, as that is where so much rich learning can occur, without making or allowing for feeling stupid or inferior. How they manage to remain composed while still answering lots of emails and posts (with one or two of them my own . . .) demonstrates, or rather role-models, what I think those of us who facilitate communities of practice should strive for. I mentioned this during our Monday afternoon teleconference check-in, and was happy that Etienne Wenger, one of our workshop colleagues, mentioned that he was happy this was the sense that has been actively conveyed. I hope my colleagues feel this as well.

Strange, as learning is often so content-focused (cf. learning objectives), that here I am learning how to just BE–and in the process to be open to learn more than any book or slide deck can teach. What possibilities when we can just allow our students to sit and process all the busyness involved in learning.