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Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity

(Learning in Doing: Social, Cognitive and Computational Perspectives)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  294 ratings  ·  24 reviews
Learning is becoming an urgent topic. Nations worry about the learning of their citizens, companies about the learning of their workers, schools about the learning of their students. But it is not always easy to think about how to foster learning in innovative ways. This book presents a framework for doing that, with a social theory of learning that is ground-breaking yet ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published September 28th 1999 by Cambridge University Press (first published 1998)
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Taylor Ellwood
Feb 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
In this book the author explores the concept of organizational design from two perspectives of practice and identity and explores how those perspectives inform the creation of community within organizations as well as the power dynamics that occur as a result. The author has some intriguing ideas to present and it's worth a read if you are interested in building community or improving the efficacy of your organization. This is an academic text, so it's not focused on how to build community, ...more
Aug 09, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: scientific
Powerful book for understanding how groups of people with shared interests learn and innovate.
I wrote an article inspired by a part of that book:

Boundaries and peripheries
F J Gilbert
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I found Wenger's book an extremely useful tool for thinking about learning and teaching. I like the way he has a rich conception of learning, seeing learning as something which happens in many different contexts. His notion of 'communities of practice' is rooted in the idea that people come together in an open-ended way to practice activities, and within these communities of practice learn from each other as they practice. There are many different types of communities of practice ranging from ...more
Jan D
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Where does learning happen? According to Wenger in Communities of Practice, groups of people who share a common concern, have common activities and a shared history. This is very much different from Learning happens when people get information and do something with it: Learning in school and from books can lack much of what is essential about learning for Wenger. This does not mean that training and artifacts do not play a part in learning. But they are not sources, but resources for learning.

Alexander Smith
Dec 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is the definitional guide and structure to considering 'communities of practice' in educational, organizational, institutional, and online settings. Although this is a really good introduction to a specialized subject, there are many ways of considering this way of thinking. This is more a supplement to make the boundary case of how practice and learning happens between fields of organizational theory, communication, and informal education theories. This should be required reading for ...more
Nathan Storring
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book will open your eyes to the many ways we all learn in everyday life. It is packed with insight and nuance. I expect it will be very useful to me in both research and working life.

My only complaint: Wenger provides too many layers of jargon to describe every single dynamic of Communities of PracticeParticipation, Reification, Modes of Belonging, Negotiability, Identification, etc. Personally, I would have preferred one or two new additions to the lexicon, with the rest simply explained
Miguel Panão
Aug 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Insightful and inspiring. The language is uncommon but isnt all learning a challenge to uncommonness. The reasoning of what makes a community of practice is clear and helps to better understand of the ones we consciously participate and the one we can build transforming our current learnings practices into learning communities. ...more
Helene Uppin
Jun 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: aime
A great lense for looking at learning, communities, and other things. Recomend to anyone who is interested in the boundary crossing phenomen (as a person who is working on the boarderline of schools, museums and universities, I found Wenger ideas extremely helpful). Also, relatively easy read. Which is always a compliment by me.
Jeff Wilsbacher
The idea that digital communities can transmit tacit information is tough. In humanities past chicken sexers, UK airplane spotters and a handful of others taught these skills though practice and correction. This book suggests tacit knowledge can be codified...and Im not sure it can. ...more
Mills College Library
153.15 W474 1999
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
thick reading but full of brilliant gems. A wonderful theory of learning, often exquisitely put, though also thick in academic theoretical writing at times as well.
Mar 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mim
This is Wenger's more theoretical work on Communities of Practice. I read it for a paper I was doing that dealt with one. It was very good for that deeper understanding of what one is but it wasn't so much a how-to (which is a bit more complicated). Some of his later works seem to focus on that more. If you want a good grounding in the essence and psychology of communities of practice as a method of organizational knowledge sharing, this would be it.
Jan 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I read this twice while completing various courses in graduate school. I hated it the first time around, but the second time I read it was in a much more meaningful context. The idea that organizations are really just made up of many communities of practice really hit home for me the second time around and since I've been able to see examples of this clearly illustrated in both my professional (I work in education) and personal life.
David Kirschner
Apr 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Useful in some parts, not useful to me for most of it. I've already gotten most of what Wenger was saying in one form or another over the years and was looking to this to really help me think more deeply about CoPs. It was okay for that purpose. The best part was reading the ethnographic material in the front. Really do like the book's organization.
Stuart Macalpine
Brilliant. A study of the way that learning or simply living is embedded in a complex web of meaning making in which we balance our participation with the things or reifications that represent the order, ideas, institutions or things we work with. It is enormously useful in thinking about every aspect of learning and community. An absolutely essential read. Powerful.
Michiel Poell
Nov 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Een geweldig boek waardoor je op een heel nieuwe manier gaat kijken naar de organisatiestructuur.
Wanneer leren mensen van elkaar? Wat stelt mensen in staat om van elkaar te leren? Een theorie over social learning. Het boek is in het begin misschien verwarrend, maar voor mij is dat een teken dat er nieuwe inzichten ontstaan!
May 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book provides an in-depth qualitative data analysis about Wenger's research with "communities of practice," or groups of people that form around collective, sustained tasks.

This is an important book for anyone interested in group-formation or identity co-constituted from within the self and as a member of different groups.
Dec 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
Wenger introduces an important theoretical construct with this book, which focuses on the hidden influence of cohesive groups bound by their common activities. Primarily for the education audience, he focuses on organizational learning and the development of local expertise through CoP. This is generally for an academic audience.
Jess Haggerty
Jan 06, 2011 is currently reading it
So far, this book has been very interesting in detailing how people who share the same interests or enact the same experiences come together to form communities. It is also interesting to see how being a member of a community of practice has an effect on identity.
Jun 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
So far, it seems like an insightful study of how certain communities cohere around common practices and how unique and flexible meanings are negotiated within these communities. I'm only about half way through.
Oct 13, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommended to Grumpylibrarian by: Management Principles & Operations
Kara Poe Alexander
Apr 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Valuable book for educators about social learning and the ways individuals are embedded in "communities of practice" that foster learning and pass on values. Excellent read.
Jul 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Well-written analysis of learning, moving beyond teaching and the classroom.
Dec 26, 2015 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Leslie by: Sky
"It was okay." Hard to digest for someone who just wants to apply the concepts, but hopefully laid the foundational theory to read Wenger's other books.
Juan Felipe
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Eli Johnson
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Learning in Doing: Social, Cognitive and Computational Perspectives (1 - 10 of 39 books)
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  • Understanding Practice: Perspectives on Activity and Context
  • The Computer as Medium
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“Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.” That’s Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani human rights...
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“The opposite of fragmentation is not homogenization, which is a suspicious form of unity. Who wants blending, anyway? And for what purpose? Blending, somehow, always ends up privileging the perspective of the blade.” 1 likes
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