Communities of practice are formed by people who engage in a process of collective learning in a shared domain of human endeavor: a tribe learning to survive, a band of artists seeking new forms of expression, a group of engineers working on similar problems, a clique of pupils defining their identity in the school, a network of surgeons exploring novel techniques, a gathering of first-time managers helping each other cope. In a nutshell:
Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.
There are three essential characteristics of a community of learning
The domain: A community of practice is more than just a club of friends or network of colleagues. It has a shared area of interest and members have some knowledge of that domain that separates from other people. Practising NLPers or EFTers are in shared domain – even if they do not know one another.
The community: In pursuing their interest in their domain, members engage in joint activities and discussions, help each other, and share information. They build relationships that enable them to learn from each other. Just having the same interest doesn’t make you a member of a community of practice. You need to be able to get together, interact and learn together. Wenger gives the example of the ‘Impressionists’, who used to meet in cafés and studios to discuss the style of painting they were inventing together. These interactions were essential to making them a community of practice even though they often painted alone.
The practice: Members of a community of practice are practitioners. They are not just interested in something, they use their skills in a variety of situation. They develop a shared body of resources: experiences, stories, tools, ways of addressing recurring problems – a shared practice. This takes time and sustained interaction. These interactions may be informal – work related discussions over lunch or more structured – team building, training or conferences.
Wenger says “It is the combination of these three elements that constitutes a community of practice. And it is by developing these three elements in parallel that one cultivates such a community.”
ChangeCamp is designed to fulfil that purpose in a simple, low-cost, enjoyable way.
The domain: The domain of ChangeCamp is psychological methods of change. These methods may be applied to self development, working with others in a therapeutic or educational setting, or working with groups and organisations to create change.
The community: ChangeCamp is one place for people who are interested in these areas to meet, perhaps for the first time and to develop their common interests. This website is designed to facilitate that process.
The practice: ChangeCamp is both for professional practitioners of their art it’s also for interested amateurs. Anyone who has tried to put a self-help book’s suggestions into practice is an explorer of self development even if they don’t belong to an association or get paid for it.
In an ideal world communities are supportive, educational and fun – that’s certainly my hope for ChangeCampImage courtesy of h.koppdelaney