Question Eight:Online Communities, Communities of Practice

Online communities are an expression of loneliness

                                                                                                                              -Joanne Harris

Week Eight Questions:

What is the difference between ‘online communities’ and ‘communities of practice’ (COPs)?

What are the characteristics of COPs and their relevance to business strategy?

What are the benefits and limitations of online communities and COPs to businesses?

Communities of practice:

First of all what is a community? A community is a “social group of any size whose members reside in a specific loyalty, share government and often have common cultural and historical heritage”.

Communities of practice are a group of people who share their concerns or passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.  Another source defines communities of practice as communities that are united by some area of shared interest and are often seen as one of the mechanisms by which knowledge is shared.

There are three characteristics of communities of practice which are

The domain: A community of practice is identified by a shared domain of interest,  it is an area of shared inquiry and of the key issues for example improving adult learners.

The community: Professionals committed to a process of collective learning oriented toward achieving outcomes and improving practice.  Through their domain of interest members engage in joint activities and discussions, to help one another to share information.

The practice: Investigation of key questions, problems and gaps, the identification of resources and expertise, the sharpening of subject knowledge through professional learning and development of new resources, processes and methods. it is a combination of three elements the domain, community and practise that make a community of practice.

Online Communities

According to the business dictionary an online community is a network of people who communicate with one another and with an organisation through interactive tools such as emails, discussion boards and chat systems using social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Nowadays online communities have just become more like real life communities, more like neighbours that help each other with their needs and wants and they maintain their common interests. People socialize and share ideas with one another, share tips and act as each other’s mentors.

Both communities of practice and online communities share ideas with one another and is a means of communication, helping one another and giving each other tips.

The difference between online communities and communities of practice is that online communities are bound together by  common interest or a topic, anyone can be a part of the community. With communities of practice they have boundaries access can be closed in other words one must have legitimacy.


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