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TEL 703/711: LdC #3

Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning meaning, and identity. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Provocative Question #3:

How can I positively influence my CoP through participation in “broader configurations” of networks?

[Expand your social network to include knowledgeable individuals beyond your workplace setting. Find 1-3 others not in your institution, who have a similar problem as yours. Establish a dialogue with them whereby you compare situations and learn from one another’s experiences. Submit the channel you used to connect (FB,LinkedIn, Google Alerts, discussion boards, email, phone, etc.), who you connected with (a group or individual), and a summary of your interactions thus far.]

Step 1: Prepare for a conversation

Quote/ideas from the book; applications/instances from your workplace setting Page number
 “It is not necessary that all participants interact intensely with everyone else or know each other very well – but the less they do, the more their configuration looks like a personal network or a set of interrelated practices rather than a single community of practice,” (p. 126) 126
“Communities of practice define themselves in part by the way they negotiate their place within the various constellations they are involved in, a theme to which I will return later in the book,” (p. 128) 128
“Within these economies of meaning, negotiability among individuals and among communities is shaped by structural relations of ownership of meaning,” (p. 197) 197
In terms of reification, alignment requires sharable artifacts – boundary objects able to create fixed points around which to coordinate activities. It can also require the creation and adoption of broader discourses that help reify the enterprise and by which local actions can be interpreted as fitting within a broader framework,” (p. 187). 187
“We may have to redefine our enterprises and see our own participation in a broader context. From our misunderstandings we may come to comprehend, in striking and expanded ways, the historical particularities and the ambiguities of our own actions and artifacts,” (p. 218). 218
“Externally, a learning community confronts issues of identification and negotiability through its position in broader configurations,” (p. 219) 219
We’re working in networks of schools both across the Phoenix metropolitan area, as well as with networks across the country.

Step 2: Hold a conversation

Here are my notes from the fishbowl session:

  • D: 79 – not self-contained entities …we can invent schools…
  • J: 55 – participation
  • B: we go to conferences, learn with and from others – bring it back to improve own local setting…C: counter-culture…126: it’s not necessary that everything be accountable to a joint enterprise…we don’t have to include everyone…page 128 shared practice does not entail…just because we’re in the same group, we don’t have to agree on all things…
  • K: page 121 – legitimacy…
  • J: bringing back to the question of whether I’m holding back or participting…
  • K: relates to how much one sees oneself connecting to the cause or the group…
  • B: and your value can increase over time, and as we go out to broader networks, it validates something we’re already doing…
  • C: could also decrease value if we get negative feedback – could effect our self efficacy to engage in feedback
  • D: can learn from negative feedback…networking
  • C: either way, defines who you are as a person
  • B: 109 brokering …you kind of become a middle-man and take the information back to your community as a broker… the link between your community and another one…makes it stronger
  • J: 4 – knowing is a matter of…
  • D: 150 – engagement in practice gives us certain experiences…
  • B: index conversation…
  • K: at the constellation/conference level, regardless of what we have to offer, at the periphery we’re still learning and we can still find ways to bring and leave with value
  • K: Twitter…conversation…

Step 3: Determine your leadership challenge

For this leadership challenge, I’m going to look to a network that has been incredibly valuable to me over the past few months, and that is the EdSurge Loop network that I’m a part of. I join weekly optional networking video chats with other practitioners and scholars in the higher ed landscape, most of whom are working in digital and online spaces in higher ed.

What’s interesting about EdSurge Loop is that you don’t necessarily know who you’re going to talk to until about 48 hours before the Friday morning call. Fortunately for this LdC, I know that I’ll be talking to Alex Pickett, who is one of the foundational leaders in instructional design and elearning in higher ed, and so she’ll definitely be an incredible person to talk to.

I also plan to utilize the Squad Goals Network that I’m a part of. I think SGN makes sense because it’s more than just a Twitter or LinkedIn network; it’s a group of intelligent and engaged folks from across a broad spectrum of institutions, though we all face overlapping challenges.

Step 4: Implement and reflect

Wow! Alex was great to talk with, and of course she had incredible insights on starting up new ventures, particularly in design from an institutional standpoint. She also recommended this really incredible book by Larry Cuban, Inside the Black Box of Classroom Practice: Change Without Reform in American Education. This was a really valuable bit of connection, and I was happy to see how just participating in a broader network, even in this single video chat,

And, another amazing thing happened this week through my Squad Goals Network interaction, which consisted mostly of emails and text threads: we won an effective practice award with a prominent education organization! This is not public news yet, so I’m not really going to share what that means just yet, but it is a super intersting reflection in Wengerian terms, because these broader configurations around my institutional context have really help shape how I frame the difficulties and challenges my team faces. Seeing my colleagues from other schools share their work and their experiences provides a periphery kind of scaffolding that will surely work its way back into what our team does here at ASU.

Broadly, I think this week’s exposure to other networks has been fortunate in terms of the timing, because even within these different actions, I’m seeing different kinds of ownership of meaning, and that’s useful for me seeing how our team could evolve and grow. What’s more, it has interesting implications for the schools we work with, because as they are introduced into our orbit and us into theirs, we expand the number of constellations through which new communities of practice might be formed.

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