As the name suggests, “a community of practice (CoP) is a group of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly” (source). Basically, people who share an interest in the same fields or topics gather together to gain knowledge and skills as part of a community, and “it is through the process of sharing information and experiences with the group that members learn from each other, and have an opportunity to develop personally and professionally”.
Learning is a cognitive process that takes place in a social environment, and the social learning theory coined by Albert Bandura supports this, stating that people learn from each other, through various methods such as pure observation, and even imitation and modeling of certain behaviors and learning patterns. What are the implications of this theory on eLearning and corporate training programs?
From our experience, it means that organizations need to take into consideration the social aspect of learning, no matter the learning environment where they deliver their training programs. And one way to do this is by means of the previously mentioned communities of practice, which foster social learning at the level of organization, encouraging engagement and leading to increased level of knowledge retention.
Communities of practice & eLearning
Throughout our eLearning journey with our partners and clients, we got the chance to see the multiple benefits of communities of practice as part of the training process for both organizations and academic education institutions and we will list a few of these benefits below.
1. Communities of practice have encouraged connectivity at the level of organizations, offering peer-to-peer learning opportunities. How can companies do this?
By means of the communities of practice tool implemented in the Knolyx app, where the trainer can upload resources and materials and the organization can create learning channels where employees from the same department can share learning insights, conduct brainstorming sessions or learn from each other.
2.This is also applicable to Universities which use eLearning to deliver learning resources to their students. One of the biggest challenges in online learning during COVID-19 has been the lack of connectivity between students. Besides the educational aspect of learning, social learning and the connectivity between students is essential, and it has been mostly neglected in this pandemic.
Moreover, students are used to social media channels and they find it easy to interact using them. Based on these two aspects, Knolyx offers the tool of communities of practice which is similar to the social media channels students use, and it also enhances social learning and interaction.
3. Communities of practice used to implement an internal communication system at the level of organizations.
Some organizations emphasize the importance of employee communication, and with Knolyx they can have it by means of communities of practice, where employees can be distributed across channels (similar to departments), where they can share learning insights or simply talk about professional aspects, and they have access to resources and files shared by the organization, and they can ask the trainee some questions to clarify the learning content in a less formal way.
So why use communities of practice?
As stated above, communities of practice are a good way to foster connectivity and social learning, while creating an internal communication system among employees. Moreover, they can encourage innovative thinking as a result of collaborative learning and expertise sharing, creating environments where professionals can find solutions together, join brainstorming sessions and solve their tasks more efficiently at the end of the day.
Moreover, communities of practice can help organizations to build new strategies on the basis of shared experiences, making the most of the knowledge and skills each member brings to the table. Let’s have a talk to see how communities of practice can make your learning journey better for every learner engaged in it.