Reflections on Communities of Practice is an audio series created to bring together experts in the EdTech and Lifelong Learning field in general. This initiative aims at bringing more visibilty to the DISCUSS community on the one hand and to learn from other experiences, on the other hand. The lessons learned and the good practices do matter not only for improvement purposes but also to ignite some reflection on the topic beyond the theoretical underpinnings.
Communities of practice are learning partnerships and offer opportunities for professional development; members share information, resources, learn from each other’s experience and create new knowledge together. In this webinar, you will learn from 3 community-builders about the communities of practice they are engaged in, what value has been created for the members of those communities and what challenges they faced.
The Australian Learning Communities Network Inc (ALCN) was formed in 2001. ALCN is a network of leading edge practising agencies building sustainable communities using learning as the key driving element.
It now has a membership comprising around 38 learning communities around Australia, represented by lead agencies such as local government, Adult Education Centres, Private Organisations, Libraries, Community Centres, Universities, Charitable Organisations, Peak Learning Bodies, Youth Agencies and Technical and Further Education Institutes. The lead agencies have formed, within each learning community, a network of partnerships comprising business, local government, education, government authorities, community interests, libraries, and support services agencies.
The ALCN recognises that the aims and goals of most organisations/groups cannot be achieved in isolation and there is a need for partnerships within the community. The emphasis needs to shift to strategic alliances and partnerships, improved linkages between stakeholders such as education, vocation, technology, employer groups, government agencies and regional development.
The XPLOIT project was created to enhance the exploitation of the many European learning projects. Most of them are producing excellent materials and resources which are vanishing after the end of the funding period. The question was (and still is) why and the mission was to find a systematic practice in supporting new infrastructures in the local communities to make use and adopt those many resources.
Lifelong Learning has to constantly re-examine and restate its beliefs and practices in order to stay relevant. When I started in Adult Education some 25 years ago, Local Authorities and all post 16 education providers had generous funding available to support adults who had either been disadvantaged by their education, or who simply needed new skills. Working in the Welsh Valleys area we were able to build upon the spirit of co-operation we found amongst the women’s groups that had sprung up during the miners’ strike. Using European funding we could provide ICT labs and intensive one year training programmes in post mining communities.
Alongside our part-time humanities degree in the community we offered European funded ICT training and this attracted more than 3,000 adults eager to learn new skills. These centres transformed their communities and still offer a vital lifeline. The centres were staffed by local volunteers who were part of the community and understood the community’s needs. We had contact with other providers but each body provided what they and the centres thought was required.
The Role of Hume Global Learning Village Committee in building communities of practice & social capital in Hume, Australia.
When Hume City Council established the Hume Global Learning Village in 2003, they set up a dual structure of a high level Advisory Board and a locally- based Committee to support and facilitate the initiative. The role of the Advisory Board was to set strategic directions for the initiative while the Committee was to give a local voice and access to local organisations ad networks. The Committee has continued to facilitate the village since then, despite a significant change in its status in 2014, and in the process has built communities of practice across Hume that facilitate communications, shared understanding and knowledge, and above all trust in supporting successive Village strategic plans.
I interpret a community of practice as a group of people which learns how to improve its knowledge, its behaviour and its influence as a result of interaction between each other and with other groups. I suggest below 3 case studies where this happened.
Case 1: Schools-Industry Twinning - tapping into the expertise of different organisations
Woodberry Down, an inner city London school, had a rich ethnic mix within its catchment area and a high proportion of one-parent families. It was situated in a difficult area of inner London with an unenviable local crime record where there is very little background of learning, much less lifelong learning. It also had a dynamic head teacher in Michael Marland whose passed on his passion for using new ideas to serve his students to his staff.
By contrast, the city location of the mighty IBM, 3 miles away was situated in the City of London, one of the richest areas in the world. It employed 700 highly trained professional people – systems analysts, salesmen, managers, experts on all aspects of computing, and most of them with complementary talents, skills, experiences and knowledge outside of their work life.
Interview with Ana Raducanu, host community for RestartEDU Romania, a Community of Practice on Transforming Education in Romania. The interview was conducted by Magda Balica in Cheia, Romania - RestartEDU Camp 2015 for www.discuss-community.eu.
In this article we present an interview with community activist Dr. Cristina Costa, who is a lecturer in Lifelong Learning (Technology Enhanced Learning) in the Centre for Lifelong Learning, School of Education, Strathclyde University. Her research focuses on the intersection of education and the participatory web through a sociological lens, especially Pierre Bourdieu’s key concepts. She is also interested in broader issues regarding the participatory web in the context of a changing society. She is a co-editor of the Social Theory Applied blog/website. The interview was conducted by Prof. Thomas Eckert, who is full professor at the Institute of Pedagogy at Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich, Germany. His major field of interest is qualitative and quantitative methods in quality measurement and participation in adult education.
DISCUSS only recently conducted a series of interviews with European project actors engaged in Communities of Practice. In this article we present an interview with Graham Attwell, research director of Pontydysgu - Bridge to Learning - , Wales. Graham Attwell's work over the past decades was focused on research and development of new applications and approaches to Personal Learning Environments and use of social software for learning and knowledge development.
European Public Employment Services (PES) are key agents in supporting Europe’s strategic goal of high levels of employability during a period of economic turbulence and demographic change. The increased demands on these public services have precipitated a need for transformation and continuous development. For managers and practitioners to perform successfully in their job and to support their own, and their clients’/claimants’, career adaptability and resilience, they each need to acquire a set of new transversal skills and competencies, as well as embed a professional culture of continuous improvement.