What is a Community of Practice (Cop)?
A Community of Practice (CoP) is a group of people who share a profession or a passion and aim to learn how to do it better as they interact regularly. The concept of CoP was first proposed by cognitive anthropologist Jean Lave and educational theorist Etienne Wenger in 1991, while it significantly expanded in 1998 (see also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_of_practice ).
A CoP can be naturally developed by the members themselves when they share a common interest in a particular domain or area, or it can be deliberately developed with the aim of gaining knowledge and good practices and experience related to a specific field (Wang, 2018). The members of a CoP learn from each other through their interaction, as they share information and experiences for a specific domain or area.
Key elements of a CoP
The domain: Members are brought together by a common domain of knowledge.
The community: The notion of a community forms a collective learning which becomes a bond among them over time.
The practice: The practice refers to the interactions between CoP members, based upon the community develops, shares and maintains its core of knowledge.
CoPs in UMI-Sci-Ed
In UMI-Sci-Ed Project, inspired by M. Weiser’s vision, a tranquil environment for educational activities will be provided, where technology itself will not star but support the stakeholders of education, including, the educational community (teaching institutions, students, professors, tutors, etc), the industry (UMI companies, VET providers, publishers, etc), career consultants and educational authorities and policy makers. As a result, CoPs will be formed dynamically around educational scenarios or projects and an integrated yet open training framework for upper high school students will be developed.
UMI technologies emerge both as educational means but most importantly as support mechanism for developing powerful careers in domains such as science education. Innovative activity within schools and communities is increasing; most of it is driven organically by small groups with a relatively narrow focus. Often the collective awareness that these activities are going on can be low, even within the community. New organisations seeking to translate innovative practices need to be particularly aware of this and develop their approaches accordingly. However, these activities offer both evidence of an appetite to promote STEM activities and a pathway for transfer.
Therefore, a project seeking to create a high impact in this area should look at approaches that foster cultures of innovation, investigate the drivers around successful activities and build CoPs that can sustain related activities in the face of limited resources and high levels of turnover. Along these lines, the project will deliver meta-level solutions to link school, community and third-level initiatives together by building these CoPs within active clusters where a body of knowledge already exists.
During the project important parameters on the introduction of UMI technologies in science education supported by the implementation of a CoPs format will be investigated. By carefully exploiting state of the art technologies in order to design educational tools and activities, novel educational services will be offered by implementing innovative pedagogies so as to enhance students’ and teachers’ creativity, socialisation and scientific citizenship. To this end, a training environment will be developed, consisting an open repository of educational material, educational means, training activities, a platform to support CoPs through socialisation, delivery specific of educational material, entrepreneurship training, showcases, self-evaluation, mentoring, and conceptualisation of content and information management.
Wang, M. (2018). E-Learning in the Workplace: A Performance-Oriented Approach Beyond Technology. Springer International Publishing AG 2018. ISBN 978-3-319-64530-8.