Reading through Smith’s (2003/2009) ‘Jean Lave, Etienne Wenger and communities of practice’, I can reflect on times in my life when learning a repertoire of skills and knowledge occurred through ‘a shared domain of interest’ within a community of learners. In relation to the three characteristics of communities of practice, there are a number of strengths that propel one another, as well as distinguish a community of practice from other groups and communities (Wenger, 2007). These include the domain, which has an identity that is defined by the shared interest and commitment to the learning; the community, which includes the relationships formed in the ‘mutual engagement of the participant’s pursuit of interests (Wenger, 2007); and the practice, which is the shared ‘repertoire of resources’ that develops over time through the participant’s collective engagement in the learning (Wenger, 2007). Therefore, participants ultimately ‘learn how to do it better as they interact regularly’ (Smith, 2003/2009) as a collective community, practicing, doing, talking and sharing ideas together.
Salmon (2011) suggests that when learning online, we the participants, move from the “known” and onto “the unknown”. For me, the “known” learning space is the traditional and more familiar classroom learning environment, and the “unknown” is learning to learn in the online environment.
Salmon, G. (2011). E-moderating: The key to teaching and learning online (3rd ed.) (pp.31-59). London: Routledge.
Smith, M. (2003). Jean Lave, Etienne Wenger and communities of practice. Retrieved online from http://infed.org/mobi/jean-lave-etienne-wenger-and-communities-of-practice/