Monday, February 01, 2010

My Response to Nancy White on CoPs

Here is my answer to Nancy White, who commented on an earlier post "Are Communities of Practice Dead?". Nancy Wrote:

I point to a CoP that continues to give me great value, to which I contribute and which resists cooption and top down control.

I live in a number of CoPs that are central to both my learning and my livihood. None of them are within a corporation. None of them are defined by or limited to a technological platform.

Their forms are diverse, from bounded/closed and closely defined to very distributed, networked and almost impossible to point to in a succinct matter.

But in the end, to me, they are alive and well and MATTER!

I guess it all depends on where you sit, what you see.

This was my brief answer:

I'll start with your last sentence "it all depends on where you sit, what you see". That's exactly the point. It's all about YOU. You're not at the intersection of different CoPs, but at the center of your PKN. You're not a member in CoPs, but selected learners/knowledge workers are nodes in your PKN. As a learner/knowledge worker, what you're doing all the time is not to contribute to the practices of CoPs as a member, but to try to sustain and widen the circle of your PKN to embrace new knowledge nodes that you believe can help you learn/work. Your PKN, and not the CoP, is your knowledge home. Many CoPs die mainly because they are none's priority. PKNs persist because it's everyone's highest priority to hold and sustain her knowledge home.

If you can point to a CoP with a url (ala ), then this confirms my claim that CoPs are closed, structured, and bounded. If you refer to a CoP as a distributed network, than it's not a CoP anymore, for such a network lacks the elements characterizing a CoP as defined by Wenger, namely mutual engagement, joint enterprise, and shared repertoire. Unlike CoPs, today's learning/work environments are heterogeneous and distributive. They are not organized around a shared practice and do not produce a shared lore.

I'll appreciate if you join the discussion here and share your impression about CoPs. Are CoPs today the ideal environment to learn/work?

1 comment:

Nancy White said...

Mohamed - I promise to come back and continue. I've been on the road and have a bit of "catch up" to do!