Communities of Practice
What is CoP?
The term Communities of Practice (CoP) was coined by Lave and Wenger (1991). CoP are formed when people collaborate with a common passion, share, and develop knowledge through regular interaction. CoP have been widely recognised in promoting social learning, leadership development, and in bringing about changes to an organisation.
As part of the Teaching Excellence Initiatives, the office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Education (DVCE) has supported academic and professional staff to develop their Communities of Practice (CoP) for innovation and best practice in Higher Education. This initiative was established by the Educational Enhancement Unit (EEU) in October 2018 and successfully funded 15 cross faculty CoP.
Benefits of CoP participation
Following on from the establishment of the CoP, the EEU undertook a survey in July 2019 of the leads and their participants, to help identify the benefits gained from their participation in a CoP. The results were separated into the following four key areas;
Professional and Personal Development
How do I establish a CoP at UWA?
How to join an existing UWA CoP
Further Information on UWA CoP
- List of CoP
UWA Communities of Practice
- Responsibilities of leads and members
Responsibilities of leads and members in UWA CoP
CoP are widely known to benefit individuals, community, and organisations. In CoP, experiences such as satisfaction in learning, job performances, best practices are shared and practiced across an organisation. Therefore, CoP leads and members are vital in achieving these outcomes.
UWA CoP Lead
CoP leads will be required to share their passion, knowledge, and develop their expertise in their shared domain; maintain communication with the EEU and their members; attend and facilitate their CoP. They are also highly encouraged to actively participate in the events organised by EEU such as the UWA CoP Advisory Committee
UWA CoP Members
CoP members are to share their passion, knowledge, and develop their expertise in their shared domain; maintain communication with their CoP leads and other members; attend and actively contribute to discussions. They should also commit to sharing their knowledge and skills that are developed with peers in their work areas. Moreover, members are encouraged to participate in the events and workshops organised by their leads and the EEU.
- EEU Resources to Support UWA CoP
The Educational Enhancement Unit resources available to support UWA CoP
CoP Networking sessions
CoP networking sessions are organised bi-annually through online and/or offline means to enable leads and members to expand their social network. These networking sessions will facilitate the creation of a new CoP and increase the membership of the existing CoP. Moreover, for some sessions, experts will be invited to weigh in and share CoP insights. Workshops to develop necessary skills may be held in conjunction with these networking sessions.
The World Café session
The EEU will organise a world café session for its CoP members and leads. The invitation to this event will also be extended to its stakeholders and will be held towards the end of the year. The intention behind this initiative is three-fold: to increase social network and pave ways for more collaboration, to highlight CoP contributions to UWA and, to assist in growing and maintaining CoP memberships.
- Relevant articles and LinkedIn Learning pathways will be disseminated
- Targeted workshops to assist leads in facilitating their CoP
- Networking sessions to expand the social capital of CoP leads and members
- Administrative documents (i.e. registration of CoP form, resource request document)
- Gain potential access to UWA interns
- Landing page for CoP to share and highlight their initiatives
- CoP guidebook that includes a framework on sustaining CoP
- Blackboard Community page for CoP to communicate, discuss and upload necessary resources – (access only available to CoP leads and members)
- Template required to disseminate CoP events via the Intranet
- UWA CoP Advisory Committee
UWA CoP Advisory Committee
The UWA CoP Advisory Committee was created in response to feedback requesting a formal way to advise and report on good practices on learning and teaching related matters, with a view to their adoption by the governing bodies of UWA. This committee is expected to provide support for the sustainability of the CoP initiative and be a platform to share CoP experiences, best practice and projects.
The role of the UWA CoP Advisory Committee is to advise the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) on CoP initiatives relating to learning and teaching matters for consideration and where relevant, for adoption by the University.
Embedding UWA CoP initiatives into governing bodies
The UWA CoP Advisory Committee will consist of a Chair, Executive Officer, and CoP representatives as members. The committee will inform its findings to the DVC (E) each quarter. The EEU will engage with the Committee Chair to develop a set of guidelines for CoP initiatives which must meet the following criteria for consideration:
• Initiatives that have the potential to be applied beyond one school/faculty
• Initiatives must be scaleable
The process through which CoP initiatives are considered and progressed is outlined in the figure below. The individual CoP will present their recommendations and initiatives to the UWA CoP Advisory Committee. Where the initiatives have met the agreed guidelines, the Committee will decide on which initiatives should be recommended to the DVC (E). If appropriate, the Committee will relay information back to the CoP for further action. CoP initiatives that do not meet the guidelines may disseminate them after liaising with their respective Associate Deans of Learning and Teaching (ADLT).
The role of EEU and UWA CoP Advisory Committee
The EEU will continue to play a supporting role for CoP and the advisory committee. Based on feedback and recommendations from the advisory committee, relevant changes to the program that can be enacted by EEU will be considered.