Facilitator Resources

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ALTC Teaching Fellowship Community of Practice Facilitator Resources

Communities of Practice (CoPs) provide a context for university staff to engage in sustained conversations around learning and teaching, situated in the members' field of practice. They are described as:

Groups of people who share a concern, a set of problems, or a passion about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting on an ongoing basis. Over time... [t]hey become a community of practice (Wenger, McDermott and Snyder (2002) pp. 4-5).

These resources are prepared as an outcome of the ALTC Teaching Fellowship, ‘Community, Domain, Practice: Facilitator catch cry for revitalising learning and teaching through communities of practice’ to provide CoP facilitators with ideas and practical resources at different phases of a Community of Practice (CoP).

Table 2: Phases and Key Issues of a Nurtured Higher Education CoP

Initiation

Creation

Infancy

Maturity/Sustaining

Re-creating

  • Topic or cohort focus
  • Scope CoP context
  • Champions
  • Resources
  • Seizing the institutional moment
  • Finding "the spark"
  • Identify members
  • Getting buy-in
  • Selling it
  • 7 design principles
  • Nurturing “the spark”
  • Getting critical mass
  • Leveraging local knowledge and contacts
  • Nurturing membership
  • Ensuring  value
  • Back-channelling
  • Building trust
  • Building profile
  • Credibility of core members and convenors
  • Avoiding institutional takeover/leveraging
  • Membership change
  • Inducting new members
  • Reinvigoration
  • Protecting "space"
  • Keeping role focussed
  • Re-assess the critical issues or new trigger
  • Evolution of membership
  • Re-building critical mass
  • Re-negotiating institutional relationship
  • Star, C., & McDonald, J. (accepted for publication), CoPping it sweet: the state of play of CoPs in higher education, Higher Education Quarterly, Wiley-Blackwell, West Sussex, United Kingdom.

    Associate Professor Jacquie McDonald
    2010 ALTC Teaching Fellow
    Senior Lecturer/ Learning and Teaching Designer
    Learning and Teaching Support (LTS)
    The University of Southern Queensland
    Toowoomba, 4350
    Queensland, Australia
    Ph: +61 7 4631 2314
    Fax: +61 7 4631 2407
    Email: mcdonalj@usq.edu.au