Community of Practice


I share, you share, we all share. Wow, did you even realize we were all doing this?  The one thing that I love the most about Community of Practice is what is shared – PASSION. CoP is about sharing a PASSION about something that they do and they learn to do it better by sharing and interacting with others that love it also.

There are three characteristic elements that have to be in place for a Community of Practice to exist:

  • The Domain – There is a shared domain of interest that knits this group together such as brewers, tattoo artists, birders, or church and synagogue members. It is a group of people that feel a connection to each other because of the common interest they share.
  • The Community – Community members build relationships by joint activities, discussions and sharing information with each other. It does not have to be on a consistent basis but is created more by the desire to share that leads to the interaction whether it is in person or online. Maybe the group shares a new beer that was brewed, an ink technique, a bird sighted or a scripture or prayer that was inspirational to them.
  • The Practice – Those who are part of this sharing community are practioners. By definition, this is a person who actively engages in an art, discipline or profession of something that is specific. ( This is where the beer brewers would share the stories of the beer brewing process where the ingredients blended were a success, the horror stories for inkings gone wrong, the lengths that the birders had to go to get that rare bird sighting and the answers to prayer that strengthen someones faith.  They build the comraderie by experience that leads to a rich and meaningful relationship whether in person or online because of the PASSION they share as a community.

Communities of Practice are everywhere and are a great way to get people excited and engaged in things that they are passionate about. Think about how valuable this is for the adult learner? Maybe that is why you see so many organizations on college campuses such as the Business club, the Cyber club, the Ski club, Culinary club, Photography club.  We are all connected at some level to a CoP – What is your Passion?

The term was first used in 1991 by theorists Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger. Wenger believes that learning is central to human identity. We need social participation to help us individually construct our identity through engaging and contributing which leads to a powerful method of learning that we can give our adult learners. What makes your community thrive? How can we foster the growth? Having a sense of identity by a sense of aliveness by plowing the soil so that things can grow. Good community architecture provides different levels of participation by letting the participants decide how they want to be involved. It cannot be rushed – it has to develop on its own timeframe and by the energy that the community generates…you may have to guide on the side and plow and weed but never take over. Let your adult learners build their community of practice.

E.Wenger-Trayner, B. Wenger-Trayner. 2015 . Introduction to Communities of Practice. Retrieved from

Cultivating Communities of Practice: Making Them Grow. 2009.  YouTube video. Retrieved from

n.a., n.d., Communities of Practice (Lave and Wenger). Learning Theories. Retrieved from





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Professor Pritchett's guide to adult learners

Professor Pritchett lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado

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