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3 Developing communities of practice

You may be looking for a wider community, wanting to find out about best practice, interested in the latest developments, or seeking to help others by sharing successful techniques and technologies. In all these cases you are likely to find it valuable to connect with like-minded people by expanding your networks and joining (or helping establish) one or more communities of practice.

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Figure 6 Technology allows us to form networks globally, not just with those immediately around us.

One way of expanding work-related networks is to join an established community of practice (Krutka et al., 2014). This can be done by:

  • searching the internet for communities related to your work;
  • joining one or more of these communities, observing the discussions that take place, and deciding whether you would benefit from taking a more active role;
  • choosing one or two of these communities for more active participation and using these to establish/develop your professional identity, skills and a sense of membership.

For those working in education, there are several services that offer ways to find and connect with others. One of the most widely used is the professional networking site LinkedIn [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , which provides for all kinds of professionals and claims to be ‘the world’s largest professional network on the Internet’ (LinkedIn, 2020). For those working in higher education, more specialised social-networking services are available, such as Academia and ResearchGate, which help academics and researchers engage with each other through sharing publications and facilitating communication.