Education

COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE IN HIGHER EDUCATION

INTRODUCTION

Academic universities and universities of professional education are currently in the midst of modernizing their education to better suit the demands of present and future students. Higher education is becoming more vocational and occupationally-orientated: there is more and more interest in (learning) the application of theories and concepts. This requires a new approach in the coaching of learning processes. Demand-driven, the exchange of experiences and collaborative learning (community-learning) seem to be promising elements when giving shape to modernization.

WHAT IS A COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE?

A Cop is a group of people who share a (great) interest in a certain subject or theme. They meet to exchange, develop and make explicit knowledge, which arises from questions and problems they have (Wenger, McDermott & Snyder, 2002). Cops can be initiated by individual staff members, experts or by teams (for example, after completion of a project) and exist thanks to the ‘give and take’ attitude of the participants.

SUCCESS-FACTORS COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE

Within our university there is gradual recognition of the importance of communities in educational innovation: managers approach communities for advice on policy. Staff functioning in multidisciplinary teams seek out communities, depending on their learning needs. They find it helpful to exchange experiences and develop new solutions with colleagues who share their learning needs.

Conclusion

The experiences of our university show that Communities of Practice actually are important in the exchange, development and making explicit of new knowledge. HvU-communities perform more and more an important role in adding value to the process of making the strategic policy operational and creating new and innovative solutions. Our communities offer staff a way to both work and learn whilst also shaping educational innovation.

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