Introductory Videos

Introduction to Communities of Practice (watch on YouTube)

David Joyner introduces Communities of Practice as part of Pedagogical Styles.

Joyner, David. (2016). Pedagogical Styles: Communities of Practice Introductory Video. Udacity. June 6, 2016.

Introductory Resources

Community of Practice Design Guide

From the introduction: "This guide provides a practical approach to creating communities of practice (CoPs) based on experiences working with corporations, nonprofits, associations, government organizations, and educational institutions. While it is important to recognize that every organization and community is different, this guide provides a structure to help clarify the most important design elements that go in to defining, designing, launching, and growing CoPs —both online and face-to-face."

Cambridge, D., Kaplan, S., & Suter, V. (2005) Community of Practice Design Guide. EduCause. Retrieved from

The role of communities of practice in a digital age

Bates describes how to create a community of practice in an online medium. The article is heavily references the work of Wenger, also available in this library. The author also used the content developed here for an open textbook, "Teaching in a Digital Age" (

Bates, T. (2014, October 1) (web log) The role of communities of practice in a digital age. Retrieved from

Introduction to Communities of Practice

This is a lengthy introduction to communities of practice. A pdf download of the article is also available from the site.

Wenger-Trayner, E., Wenger-Trayner, B. (n.d.) (web log) Introduction to Communities of Practice. Retrieved from

Scholarly Readings

Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation

In this important theoretical treatise, Jean Lave, anthropologist, and Etienne Wenger, computer scientist, push forward the notion of situated learning--that learning is fundamentally a social process and not solely in the learner's head. The authors maintain that learning viewed as situated activity has as its central defining characteristic a process they call legitimate peripheral participation. Learners participate in communities of practitioners, moving toward full participation in the sociocultural practices of a community.

Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge university press.

Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity

Book. Learning is becoming an urgent topic. Nations worry about the learning of their citizens, companies about the learning of their workers, schools about the learning of their students. But it is not always easy to think about how to foster learning in innovative ways. This book presents a framework for doing that, with a social theory of learning that is ground-breaking yet accessible, with profound implications not only for research, but also for all those who have to foster learning as part of their responsibilites at work, at home, at school.

Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge university press.

Communities of Practice and Social Learning Systems

This essay argues that the success of organizations depends on their ability to design themselves as social learning systems and also to participate in broader learning systems such as an industry, a region, or a consortium. It explores the structure of these social learning systems. It proposes a social definition of learning and distinguishes between three `modes of belonging' by which we participate in social learning systems. Then it uses this framework to look at three constitutive elements of these systems: communities of practice, boundary processes among these communities, and identities as shaped by our participation in these systems.

Wenger, E. (2000). Communities of practice and social learning systems. Organization, 7(2), 225-246.

Becoming a Lecturer in Further Education in England The Construction of Professional Identity and the Role of Communities of Practice

Further education colleges in England, which offer a wide range of post-school education and training provision, have undergone major transformations in the past decade, resulting in considerable changes to the work of those involved in teaching in colleges. This paper examines the development of professional identity, as a means of exploring how cultures of learning and teaching are developing and changing in the sector. The paper considers the formation of professional identity amongst a group of trainee lecturers completing a one year full-time teacher training course at a university in the English Midlands. Lave and Wenger‟s (1991) work on apprenticeship to communities of practice is used to examine the effect of trainees‟ teaching placement on the development of professional identity. However, rather than identifying effective processes of increasing participation in existing communities of practice, the study highlights a strong sense of marginalisation and alienation amongst trainees.

Bathmaker, A. M., & Avis, J. (2005). Becoming a lecturer in further education in England: the construction of professional identity and the role of communities of practice. Journal of Education for Teaching, 31(1), 47-62.

What is a Community of Practice and How Can We Support It?

One of the most important concepts in social or situated learning theory is the notion of a community of practice. The concept, like the concept of constructivism or the concept of zones of proximal development, has been used both as an explanatory framework for learning and as a metaphor for how instruction should take place. In this chapter, I first describe some basic history of the concept of communities of practice and some of the theoretical assumptions underlying it. Next, I examine some of the key processes identified as producing and sustaining communities of practice. I compare and contrast the notion of communities of practice with other social learning approaches or knowledge communities. And finally, I describe some of the techniques people have used to support communities of practice through technology

Hoadley, C. (2012). 12 What is a Community of Practice and How Can We Support It?. Theoretical foundations of learning environments, 286.

UTAS Community of Practice Initiative

These readings and resources have been included to stimulate conversations and to guide the potential ways in which you might consider or develop a community of practice at UTAS. It is by no means an exhaustive collection, however it does contain a variety of documents pertaining to: what a community of practice is and some common ways in which one might work (Blue Section ‐ Toolkit Readings); and, how communities of practice have been applied in particular contexts within the Australian higher education landscape (Green Section ‐ Case Study Readings).


Beverly Wenger-Trayner

I’m a social learning consultant who works with organizations to develop strategies and practices for cultivating communities, networks and other forms of social learning.

Etienne Wenger-Trayner

I am an independent thinker, researcher, consultant, author, and speaker. I am mostly known for my work on communities of practice, though I consider myself a social learning theorist more generally. Theoretically, my work focuses on social learning systems. I am trying to understand the connection between knowledge, community, learning, and identity. The basic idea is that human knowing is fundamentally a social act. This simple observation has profound implications for the way we think of and attempt to support learning.

Jean Lave

Jean Lave is a social anthropologist with a strong interest in social theory. Much of her work, both in ethnography and in social theory, concentrates on the re-conceiving of learning, learners, and educational institutions in terms of social practice.


We are developing conceptual frameworks and practices to address the learning challenges facing public and private organizations today. We also run workshops on social learning leadership. We are interested in large-scale social learning challenges, bringing people together across organizations, geography, sectors, and disciplines to address complex problems. In our current writing we are developing a social learning framework. It addresses the learning capability of social systems and the foundations of a learning ethic. We are preparing a trilogy that includes a learning model for visioning, planning and evaluation of social learning spaces, a set of disciplines for social learning leaders, and a social learning theory.

Ongoing Projects


The idea of CPsquare is mutual motivating to learning new things, achieving determined goals in specific time frame and developing skills in certain areas. The idea came into being in the USA and is somewhat similar to discussion brainstorming, which aims at getting to know the opinions of the community members and drawing important conclusions for the future joint study. Each member shares his or her goals that they want to achieve in the nearest future as well as limitations and others control their progress and try to help by motivating and indicating appropriate ways. Moreover, the members of the community allow to divide tasks from the most important to the ones that can be quit. They help to notice, which activities do not bring the expected results and convince not to lose energy for them.


A community of practice centered around improving education.

Vertically Integrated Projects

The Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Program unites undergraduate education and faculty research in a team-based context. Undergraduate VIP students earn academic credits, while faculty and graduate students benefit from the design/discovery efforts of their teams.

National Science Teachers Association

A community of practice for science teachers.

In the Media

Communities of Practice: The Organizational Frontier

Today’s economy runs on knowledge, and most companies work assiduously to capitalize on that fact. They use cross-functional teams, customer- or product-focused business units, and work groups—to name just a few organizational forms—to capture and spread ideas and know-how. In many cases, these ways of organizing are very effective, and no one would argue for their demise. But a new organizational form is emerging that promises to complement existing structures and radically galvanize knowledge sharing, learning, and change. It’s called the community of practice.

Jean Lave, Etienne Wenger and communities of practice

The idea that learning involves a deepening process of participation in a community of practice has gained significant ground in recent years. Communities of practice have also become an important focus within organizational development and have considerable value when thinking about working with groups. In this article we outline the theory and practice of such communities, and examine some of issues and questions for informal educators and those concerned with lifelong learning.

Smith, M. K. (2003, 2009) ‘Jean Lave, Etienne Wenger and communities of practice’, the encyclopedia of informal education,

Online Communities of Practice: What Works

Teachers have gathered for decades in living room kaffeeklatsches to share their best ideas for improving education. But now the living room is virtual and global—and the challenges are multiplying. Four leaders of successful community of practice (COP) education initiatives came together at FETC this year to share their knowledge about and experience with best practices for online communities of education practitioners. Below is an excerpt of their discussion. The panel was moderated by T.H.E. Journal Editorial Director Therese Mageau.

The Two Types of Online Communities That Can Drive Growth

Two types of online communities exist: communities of interest and communities of practice.

Systems Convening in a Landscape of Practice (watch on YouTube)

During the webinar, Bev and Etienne talk about the discipline of systems convening -- a new leadership for the 21st century -- and explore the challenges systems convers face as they forge partnerships to open new avenues for learning, ultimately reconfiguring the landscape as they find solutions to complex problems. They share their experience and hope to hear from others whose work could be seen as that of systems convening.


Communities of Practice: Jarrod Parkes Interview (watch on YouTube)

David Joyner interviews Jarrod Parkes, Course Developer at Udacity, about Student Isolation in Online Courses.

Joyner, D. & Udacity. (2016, June 6). Communities of Practice: Jarrod Parkes Interview. Retrieved from