While people have learned together through informal communities of practice throughout history, the primary use of the concept originated in learning theory. Cognitive anthropologists Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger coined the term “community of practice” when studying apprenticeships as a learning model—the term referred to the community that acts as a living curriculum. Once the concept was articulated the researchers started to see communities everywhere, even when no formal apprenticeship system existed.
To learn more about the origins and theory of communities of practice, see:
There are three characteristics of a community of practice:
Today, communities of practices are increasingly being used to improve knowledge management and connect people within business, government, education, and other organizations.
The design of the community will look different depending on the purpose and needs of the participants. There are four basic types of communities: