Content-type: text/html Downes.ca ~ Stephen's Web ~ TB872: Wenger-Trayner and communities of practice

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

This is another post from Doug Belshaw as he takes a 'systems thinking course', this one covering "a basic overview of communities of practice, fractal growth, and 'world design'." Obviously I would have a lot to say about this, but I'll just make a couple of comments. First, with respect to the diagram of 'legitimate peripheral participation', we see people moving toward the core of the community, which seems right to me, but we should note that the core bounces around and sometimes splits and is in essence a 'strange attractor' for the community. Second, Belshaw comments (I think citing Wenger-Trayner) "One thing that CoPs struggle with, especially in the civic arena, is stewardship. Coalitions 'do not take sustained responsibility for stewarding a civic domain...'". I don't think people have adequately reconciled network (or systems) theory with the idea of leadership. The concepts of one person as 'steward' and self-governing communities are at odds with each other. We need to part ways with one of the other - and I'm not willing to give up on self-governing communities.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada
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