Setting the Environment for the Development of a Community of Practice: The Case of the On-Line National Customs Brokers Course in Australia
It is generally accepted that the notion of a Community of Practice (CoP) originated from Lave and Wenger’s 1991 work. They provided a definition of a CoP as being one without boundaries, where the membership is not necessarily clearly defined, and where participation is voluntary, and occurs at different levels. The flexibility of the CoP is its strength. These authors argue the case for what they coined as “legitimate peripheral participation”, a notion that is useful in educational contexts, where students are not experts, but indeed, participate in a range of activities, initially as “fringe members”. As they develop expertise, they are likely to remain members of the CoP, but in a different role – from learner to master, and thus become a resource for learning within that CoP. This paper describes the fostering of a CoP developed through a carefully designed new on-line environment. The learning resources, the teaching methods, and the frequency of instructions, together with the information technology platform, are analysed from a multi-disciplinary perspective.
In conclusion, this course is proposed as a model of good practice for on-line teaching and learning, based on the positive outcomes reported so far.
Keywords: Community of Practice, On-Line Teaching and Learning, Education Innovation
Dr. Roberto Bergami
Senior Lecturer, School of Applied Economics