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Communities of Practice Online: A case study, a perspective on learning, and design implications – John Smith

Date: July 7, 2004
Speaker: 
John Smith — 

Learning in community can be powerful because it entails the acquisition of “the whole practice” rather than bits and pieces of disconnected information. Learning communities can also be the most effective way of generating new knowledge. Smith, a former higher education technologist and now consultant and coach to communities of practice, describes an online workshop and a community of practice surrounding it, with enough detail to make it comparable to other online courses.

The design of the workshop illustrates a perspective on situated learning: legitimate peripheral participation – a social process through which learners move from “newcomer” status toward full participation – is about learning rather than teaching but it can shape the design of learning situations. This case presentation includes discussion of the design implications of this view of learning and how it extrapolates to other settings where these ideas could be influential.

About the speaker
John Smith is a technologist, innovator, manager, developer and coach for communities of practice. He helps communities and organizations develop skills and infrastructure for inquiry, learning, and knowledge management. In particular, he has focused on assessing the social and learning implications of design decisions ranging from web page design and mailing list configuration to the structure of face-to-face meetings and styles of facilitation.

Smith was an administrator, technologist, and planner at the University of Colorado for more than 20 years. He held positions responsible for facilities planning, financial planning, market research, institutional research, and technology planning. He founded the Information Resource Management Office, which provided access to information resource documentation and integration across management areas.

Smith received a Bachelor’s degree from St. John’s College (the all-required “great books” curriculum) in 1970 and a master’s degree in Planning and Architecture from the University of New Mexico in 1976.

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