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WP0 - Co-ordination
WP1 - Synergy Specification
WP2 - Information services
WP3 - Knowledge Management Services
WP4 - Mediation Services
WP5 - Implementation
WP6 - Evaluation
WP7 - Dissemination
WP8 - Training
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For more than ten years, Communities of Practice (CoPs) have been recognized as effective environments to support learning by professionals, organisations and educational institutions (for a more formal definition of a CoP, see Glossary). Collaborative learning is inherent in such communities, in that their members learn from each other by making their knowledge and practices explicit, sharing them with their peers, and reflecting on them.
CoPs have several characteristics that distinguish them from formal organizations and learning situations. In fact, such communities are groups of people who share a concern, a set of problems, or a passion about a topic (the domain of the community), deepen their practical knowledge and expertise in the area under consideration (the practice of the community), and interact on an ongoing basis (the community itself).
CoPs often emerge in the context of existing organisations or professional networks, in which people are already involved in common professional practices. Throughout their life, CoPs elaborate current (or develop new) practices, though debates and exploration of internal and external knowledge. The evolution of CoPs leads to either their expansion (regarding their domain, their practice and, their community members) or to their disappearance.
The learning value of a CoP is of high importance. The underlying processes of social participation, community building, development of identity, learning and knowing are deeply interconnected, while they are articulated around negotiation of meaning, which is at the base of any individual and collective learning. Moreover, the interacting processes of participation and reification are considered as fundamental to learning. Participation means being active participant of a social community and constructing an individual and a community identity. On the other hand, the reification process is one “of giving form to our experience by producing objects that congeal this experience into thing-ness”. It has been recognized that web-based technologies could support the development of virtual CoPs. Consequently, more and more CoPs use virtual environments to support their activities.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 11 June 2008 )