Communities of practice are dynamic social structures that require cultivation so that can emerge and grow. Organizations can sponsor communities of practice, and through a series of steps, individuals can design a community environment, foster the formalization of the community, and plan activities to help grow and sustain the community.
Sample questions to explore during the cultivation phase:
Audience: Who is this community for? Who are the community’s important stakeholders?
Domain: Given the intended audience, what are the key issues and the nature of the learning, knowledge, and tasks that the community will steward?
Purpose, Goals, and Outcomes: Given the audience and domain, what is this community’s primary purpose? What are the potential benefits to participants? To other educational stakeholders? What specific needs will the community be organized to meet?
Sample supporting activities:
Conduct a needs assessment through informal discussions, interviews, surveys and/or focus groups.
Define the benefits of the community for all stakeholders, including the sponsors and individual community members.
Identify the major topic areas for community content and exploration.
Create an estimate of the cost for the technology, technology support, facilitation, resources, and supports for participants (e.g., travel costs).