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How to Entangle - Community

The core building block for learning is the Community of Practice (CoP), which is foundational to providing social means for enhancing learning, and, at the same time, providing a means for continuing  learning beyond the lifespan of any course with which it might be associated.

 

Communities of practice meet regularly and have an established routine.  Each member fills a role, with the facilitator leading the CoP in setting a learning agenda, which the group addresses together.  They document their learning and their reflections on their learning in individual and group portfolios.

Example:

At-risk students who entered college with low social capital joined a learning community whose practice is developing skills to become effective STEM students. These students participated in events before classes started so that they could meet each other and feel a sense of belonging. Coaches led team-building activities so students enrolled in sections could build relationships.

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These learning community members meet by section once a week for evening community of practice activity.  At the beginning of their meeting, the students decide what they want to learn and divide into groups. One week a few students wanted to study Engineering while the other students worked on writing up their Chemistry lab report.  The Engineering group helped each other understand concepts that allowed them to complete their homework individually. Tyson, who was working in the Engineering group, facilitated planning to create their own study guide for the upcoming exam. He asked a coach to explain how the group could create their own study guide. Tyson then helped his group divide the material by learning outcome and proposed a target deadline that was agreed upon by the rest of the group.

 

Fast-forward into the middle of the semester, and members of the learning community reach out to others.  Allie noticed that Sarah was struggling with calculus and offered to study with her. Aaron brought Matthew with him to the professor's office hours and worked problems on the whiteboard. After Matthew had to leave for class, Aaron went to lunch with another community member who also was at office hours.

 

Others in the same learning community were working in groups during class. While working in his group, John overheard that others in another group didn't understand what they were doing. His group was working productively, so John went to the other group to help them get on track.