Considering Community: Communities of practice and double-knit knowledge organisations

Social in silico includes a series of occasional posts focused on community management tips and related information. I’m tagging these Considering Community and you can find all the posts in the series here

Previously on this blog, I’ve reflected on the different types of community that I’ve observed within science and specifically in the first cohort of the community engagement fellowship program that I run at AAAS. I identified four initial broad types of scientific communities – from professional associations to communities of practice. I’m currently delving deeper into communities of practice and am enjoying reading “Cultivating communities of practice” by Etienne Wenger, Richard McDermott and William M. Snyder.

Today’s post looks at what it means to be a double-knit knowledge organisation – and how we integrate learnings from communities of practice into our day-to-day work.

When asked if her organisation was taking a double-knit approach to knowledge management, Jane replied “I’m a frayed knot.”
Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/heartbrainscourage/25126915686/

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Considering Community: Communities of practice as vital tools for knowledge management

Social in silico includes a series of occasional posts focused on community management tips and related information. I’m tagging these Considering Community and you can find all the posts in the series here

Previously on this blog, I’ve reflected on the different types of community that I’ve observed within science and specifically in the first cohort of the community engagement fellowship program that I run at AAAS. I identified four initial broad types of scientific communities – from professional associations to communities of practice. I’m currently delving deeper into communities of practice and am enjoying reading “Cultivating communities of practice” by Etienne Wenger, Richard McDermott and William M. Snyder.

Communities of practice and coffee – breaking down those silos one latte at a time…
Image credit: author’s own

What’s a community of practice – and what does it have to do with knowledge management?

A community of practice is a group of people who gather to learn more about a topic together and in doing so deepen their knowledge and expertise. The group may not have a specifically defined goal, but rather meet regularly to continually refine what they know about a subject. As such, communities of practice are key to knowledge management.

Wenger et al list 5 ways in which communities of practice are key to how we manage knowledge:

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Considering Community: What types of community are there? (Science edition – part three)

In one of my early Considering Community posts I outlined several broad types of community – from communities of interest to communities of circumstance – and I mused on whether the different types might use online tools distinctly.

In reflecting recently on the different communities represented in the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program that I run, I realised that it’s time to dive a little deeper on this topic – considering some of the different configurations of community specifically within science. 

In this first post on the topic, I discussed professional societies for scientists and what I call infrastructure or “halo” organisations. In part two I considered research collaborations. In part three I’m going to discuss communities of practice.

Learning together – a key element of a community of practice.
Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/deankts/14070816410/

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Considering Community: What’s community engagement within science – and why does it matter?

Back in November 2015, AAAS announced the new AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program, for which I’m the program director. At that time I answered some great questions from Matt Shipman on the Communication Breakdown blog.

I’ve pulled out some of my key comments about how I became involved with community management and how we’re defining community engagement within science as this has come up in conversation several times recently. For my more recent thinking about types of communities within science, see my ongoing series of posts.

How to build community? Image by Flickr user Niall Kennedy: https://www.flickr.com/photos/niallkennedy/40727794

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Considering Community: What types of community are there? (Science edition – part two)

In one of my early Considering Community posts I outlined several broad types of community – from communities of interest to communities of circumstance – and I mused on whether the different types might use online tools distinctly.

In reflecting recently on the different communities represented in the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program that I run, I realised that it’s time to dive a little deeper on this topic – considering some of the different configurations of community specifically within science. 

In this first post on the topic, I discussed professional societies for scientists and what I call infrastructure or “halo” organisations. In part two I’m going to consider research collaborations.

Putting the pieces together.
Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stoneysteiner/5999358838/

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Considering Community: The Connect-Align-Produce network model for social-impact networks

Social in silico includes a series of occasional posts focused on community management tips and related information. I’m tagging these Considering Community and you can find all the posts in the series here

For regular online communities, such as those hosted by an organisation, we looked at the four stage model of the community lifecycle described in Rich Millington’s “Buzzing Communities”. Last week, we considered a different type of community – a social-impact network where the emphasis is on group members working together for a social good. In “Connecting to Change the World”, the authors discuss three different stages of a social-impact network – and how it’s possible to transition between them. Let’s consider this connect-align-produce model.

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Considering Community: What’s a social-impact network?

Social in silico includes a series of occasional posts focused on community management tips and related information. I’m tagging these Considering Community and you can find all the posts in the series here.

What’s a social-impact network?

This week I’ve been reading “Connecting to change the world” by Peter Plastrik, Madeleine Taylor and John Cleveland. It’s a focused, practical guide to building a very specific type of community – a social-impact network.

Whereas the word community has now been adopted for somewhat ambiguous use in a wide variety of scenarios involving groups of people, a social-impact network has a clear definition. It’s a collection of collaborators who are working together in some way to address a complex social issue.

Social-impact networks are self-organising – with decision-making distributed across the networks and with a structure that may change rapidly (such as the formation or closure of working groups).

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