Aug 18 2006

What to read?

Published by at 4:40 pm under Books,Communities of practice

A participant from a recent Foundations of Communities of Practice workshop, who works in a university, writes:

    I am spending more and more time reading and learning about CoP’s and am finding the amount of information to be monumental. As a relative newbie to CoP’s, I’m wondering if you have a recommendation for how to approach the literature in an organized manner. In other words, if you were a beginning “CoP’er” how would you prioritize what to read?

I thought I’d respond here, since it’s a question that comes up fairly often. I think the answer depends a lot on who you are and what your intentions or needs are. You need to answer the question, “In what context are you working?” As my friend Bronwyn Stuckey muses, when you start studying communities of practice, disciplinary boundaries tend to melt away, and you find yourself reading stuff that you never imagined before.

One implication of how the community of practice idea pops up all over the place is that a lot of things you’ve already read are quite relevant. So when you read new stuff (possibly using this map: ) don’t forget that you are already an expert in certain areas and you should make it a practice of noting things there. I guess I would suggest that you check these out as foundational:

But then be sure and look at specific cases, say about Education (where Barab, Kling and Gray should be early on your list), so that practice is your guide. I have to say that 8 years ago, when I got involved in communities of practice, I had the fantasy that I would read everything on the subject. It didn’t take long to realize that that would never be. (I just looked at the bibliography page and saw more stuff that I’d like to read.) Therefore, I suggest taking a practitioner’s approach, listen in on the conversations at CPsquare or com-prac.

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