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Monday, April 15th  
Will students form a community of practice?

Will students form a community of practice?
There are some wild ideas on creating a Community of Learning at Utrecht University. I think it is a very interested concept and certainly has some perspective. On the other hand I am worried that an all too straightforward application of the model of Communities of Practice will not work.

Fortunately Etienne Wenger (the guru of CoP's) came round and gave a very inspiring, enlightening and critical presentation. For all those interested in his idea's do visit his website.

I strongly believe in the value of Communities of Practice in which professionals at a comparable level of experience share their knowledge and experience. I am also sure that groups of students could set up Communities of Learning spontaneously. However: I am not sure you can stuff all students into a supervised group together with staff and alumni and a Community of learning will develop. I expect the difference in experience and knowledge to be too great. Also: the referees which will allow you to pass your degree are the ones not only watching you, but also your fellow members in the community.

So how to encourage a community of learning?
I must sit down and read Etienne's book, but I do have some (pretty obvious) hunches:
- Comparable members that speak a communal language
- Everybody brings something to the fold and everybody carries something out
- Time to nurture (so not just a ten week course module)
- Social carriers of the process
- Offer the facilities (not just ICT, and mind: this is the last in line of factors)

So the challenge is to build this into education. If anybody has any experiences: please let me know...