Aug 05 2008

After all the administrivia

CPsquare is having a book club event, where everyone is invited to read a book about communities of practice together. Sounds simple enough, right? Fortunately or unfortunately Communities of Practice: Creating Learning Environments for Educators is a book where, if you’re interested in communities of practice, you might want to read all the book chapters. Not to be thwarted the book club organizers, Bronwyn Stuckey and Jeffrey Keefer organize a process to figure out who in the community wants to be involved, what general themes are most important to them, and within that, which specific chapters we’re going to read together. Ah, now we can sit down with a deep dive into an excellent chapter about how academics in South Africa adopt new technologies and think about teaching, right? No.

It turns out it’s even more complicated. A synchronous read is a wonderful idea but to actually make it happen takes a huge amount of effort. Fortunately, in this case, all the organizers are doing an amazing amount of work. And that includes the book editors, too — evidence that Chris Kimble, Paul Hildreth and Isabelle Bourdon love their (and our) topic.

Both the public discussion and the back-channel is filled with all kinds of little efforts, arrangements and negotiations to make sure that everyone has the books in hand on time. How can you deal with the Danish taxman? How’s mail delivery in Kenya? Who can help? Could the publisher do anything? Does the publisher have any responsibility or interest in the matter? Could we somehow find a work-around? What are the constraints?

Well it’s not all worked out yet, but it makes me stop and think: where does the real community work start and end? Isn’t all the angst around getting the stupid book in people’s hands a really important part of a community’s learning? And don’t all those email threads that are now getting longer and longer say something really important about CPsquare’s values? I think so.

It says something about how people care about each other’s individual learning and our collective inquiry. And I don’t think that’s at all trivial.

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