What do you think about them and their work?
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?
One of the things I learned about myself in the module at Lancaster I just finished is just how much I love qualitative methods. Not just qualitative studies in my own content areas, but the rich methodological particulars in themselves. Yes, I couldn’t believe it when I first said that a few weeks ago – I knew I was interested in application to practice, but now find myself loving the complexities and issues around selecting, using, and assessing various qualitative methods. I can see myself really exploring this more in itself . . .
Since my background is adult education, I tend to think of myself as an adult educator. I like critical theory and constructivist frameworks, and am fond of Wenger’s Community of Practice model, as well as Jack Mezirow’s Transformative Learning framework. I am a proponent of postmodernity, and as such am interested in identity development, especially in online blogs and other forms of social media where narrative inquiry and autoethnography can be used.
Now, to see how all this can develop toward a thesis direction . . .
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 . . .
I journaled and reflected on this question with everything I write here on my blog, my public journal I share with a few colleagues and friends who are king enough to stop by and offering some thoughts from time to time.
So, after working through this paper, and thinking about our readings, I will try to draw some of these things together hereas the first step in pulling together some of what I will discuss with my cohort colleagues:
- the excerpts we read of Donald Schon’s work were not terribly helpful for me–it seems that either people refer to Schon in ways he did not discuss, or I really need to read him more thoroughly and closely.
- Wenger’s work with communities of practice seem to be a theoretical framework that can be applicable in a wide variety of works. I wonder, though, how organizations really use these without being manipulative (to get more work from people without more expenditures). I suppose I am wondering how these can be used and cultivated within organizations, since I have not really seen many that are organic, rather than organizationally-sponsored.
- Laurel Richardson’s work really surprised me with how rich it is. It seems that some of my colleagues also found it and Ellis / Bochner’s work valuable, while others did not seem to be able to make heads or tails out of it. I am finding that my thesis (the UK term for dissertation) seems headed down that direction . . .
- I am beginning to find more value in sharing and collaborating online than I ever have before. It seems my slowly-growing informal network of doctoral support is becoming increasingly valuable to me. As our current module is entitled The Development of Professional Practice, this seems ironically (and completely unexpectedly) fitting.
I am going to review some of our readings, and comment on this a bit more throughout this week.