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Creating and Fostering e-communities of Practice (e-CoPs ...

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Creating and Fostering e-communities of Practice (e-CoPs): Theory and Practice
Thang Siew Ming, [email protected]
What is a community of practice?
Abbreviated as CoPrefers to the process of social learning that occurs and shared sociocultural practices that emerge and evolve when people who have common goals interact as they strive towards those goals.Situated Learning(Lave & Wenger, 1991)
Difference between learning communities and CoPs
Learning communities are built around specific learning contexts whereas CoPs are work based communities that focus on organisational learning and are often more open-ended.
Nonaka and Takeuchi’s model
This model argues that organisational learning is usually accomplished through peers, individuals with similar occupational backgrounds, goals and problems.They socialise to exchange knowledge, experiences, support and best practices.Mostly through face to face interactions
Diagramatic representation of model
Tacit knowledge
Explicit Knowledge
Tacitknowledge
Explicitknowledge
from

Knowledge Creation Cycle
Converted from tacit to explicit through forces of socialisation, externalisation, combination and internalizationExternalization(tacit to explicit): applying personal knowledge to a new problem;Combination(explicit to explicit): bringing two pieces of information together in a new way;Internalization(explicit to tacit) learning by experience;Socialization(tacit to tacit) learning by sharing experiences.
Evaluating E-Communities of Practices
Simplest way is by counting:Number of community participantsTime spent per community participantGrowth in number of community participantsNumber of goals or checkpoints met by the committeeNumber of emails or discussion threads postedNumber of participants using and returning to use the communityImproved job/skills performanceNumber of new ideas generated within community (Allen et al 2003)
Knowledge Creation Cycle
Converted from tacit to explicit through forces of socialisation, externalisation, combination and internalizationExternalization(tacit to explicit): applying personal knowledge to a new problem;Combination(explicit to explicit): bringing two pieces of information together in a new way;Internalization(explicit to tacit) learning by experience;Socialization(tacit to tacit) learning by sharing experiences.
Characteristics of Successful of e-CoPs
1. A common goal or purposethe need to have common, recognised and shared needsthe existence of common practicethe goal to gain new or to improve existing competencies
Leadership and moderation(organisation, social & intellectual)
Having involved leaders/moderators is very important (Bourhis, Dube & Jacob, 2005)Necessary support from organisations management (Allen et al 2003)Clearly communicated rules, norms and standard help to reduce anxiety & uncertainty (Archidivili et al 2003)
Trust and relationship
Trust that posted information will not be misusedTrust in reliability and objectivity of information(Ardichvili, Page, & Wentling, 2003; Al-Alawi, Al-Marzooqi, & Mohammed, 2007)
Motivation and rewards of community members
Motivators for sharing of knowledge more likely to be intrinsic rewards (e.g peer recognition, self esteem boosting, altruistic motives) than extrinsic rewards (e.g. monetary and administrative)(Ardichvili, Page, & Wentling, 2003
Participation (Salmon,2000)
Three groups of users:1/3 read and contribute1/3 reads contributions1/3 neither reads nor contributes
Others factors contributing to the success of a e-CoP
Availability of TimeFace to face interaction (at a regular basis)National and organisational culture – too traditional then inhibits the flow of knowledgeProviding valuable information and knowledge – tacit knowledge, practical experiences, hands on solutions etc (Hinton, 2003)ICT and Technology (easily available technology)
Examples of successful e-CoPs
Web design (www.sitepoint.com)A programming language (www.zend.com/forums/)Software development (www.thescripts.com/forum/)Moodle
Characteristics of these communities
Mainly forumsMembership informalVisitors welcome to browse, find support and pose questionsInformal code of conductProvide general coding guides, solutions, discussion regarding good practices
Egs of three controlled e-CoPs(1) Engaging Diversity project in UK
A project by the School of Education, University of Walesaims at delivering effective diversity awareness training in Wales to a large number of people in a short period of timeTraining delivered through a series of different modulesTraining to addressed these diversity subjects – race, disability, age, religion, beliefs, gender, welsh languages & sexual orientation
Types of modules
Multimedia presentation mixing photos, video, audio, voice-over narration & animationsSupported by an interactive quizModules delivered by 11 partners organisation that includes several councils across Wales & public funded organisationsTraining by training coordinators within each organisation who will also be moderators of the e-Cops.
Findings from interviews
Numerous comments indicating the users enjoyed the images & movement, music & the narrative.Significant increase in awarenessCreate attitudinal changesFeeling part of a bigger community
(2) Study in a Japanese university
Schalow (2009) tried to establish a vibrant online social network at a Japanese university.Participation was through blogs, video and audio resources, and profile information via the social networking software.Initially a failure. Students participated in the network, but they were reluctant membersSeemed they believed their mobile telephone networks effectively met all of their information needs.
Reasons
According to him the failure was due what he called the "learning culture" (or actually its lack) created by the Japanese school system.The American educational system is able to nourish inquisitive minds.He posits that this is lacking in the Japanese educational system which puts teachers and textbooks as authorities.
(3) The CPDelt project
School Improvement project for Malaysian Smart schools to address problems currently faced by Smart schools.Lee Kean Wah (2007) pointed out the Smart School CPD succeeded in raising awareness about the innovations but appearedless effective in equipping them with a clear understanding of the practices needed in the classroom level.
Research framework
Based on the Improvement Quality Education for All (IQEA) action research framework extensively used in the UK as a vehicle for school improvement (Hopkins et al., 1996).
e-CPDelt hub & spoke model
A critical relationship between a number of school-based cadres of change–agents (spokes) and a Higher Education Institutions (HEI)-based research team (hub).Spokes-- 5 schools with four teachers (of English, Maths & Science) from each school.Hub– Researchers from three universities: The National University of Malaysia, University Nottingham, UK & University of Sabah, Malaysia
e-CPDelt hub & spoke model
Online Communities of practice approach
Methods of sharing
Face to face interaction – workshopsOnline blog activitiesOnline posting of video clips using an Interactive Virtual Platform (ViP) followed by online sharing of best practices and problems
Poor response to blog activity

Reasons?
Is it a cultural problem as proposed by Schalow?Participants attributed it to lack of time. Is this the real deterrent factor?Maybe need more active participants from moderators, Would that help?More guided activities/modules. Would that ease the transition?
Remedial steps taken
More online support from moderatorsFace to face discussion and training sessionThere seems to be some improvement but still far from satisfactory. So, is it a cultural thing?
In conclusion
Needs to further investigate and experiment to find solutionsThe effect of culture on the success of e-CoPs in the Asian context need to be given serious consideration.Thank you

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Creating and Fostering e-communities of Practice (e-CoPs ...