Community learning: member's stories about their academic community of practice

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Lynch, Bernadette
McDonald, Jacquelin
Collins, Pauline
Hingst, Raymond D
Kimmins, Lindy
Star, Cassandra
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[Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia, Inc]
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Communities of practice (CoPs) are generally endorsed in higher education, but there are few examples of successful communities within the Australian higher education context. This paper articulates the experiences of members of a Faculty community of practice as they share their stories about collegial support, fellowship, inspiration, problem-solving, essential administrative backing and cheese! The stories reflect the response of a group of academics to the development of a community of practice around learning and teaching within the business faculty of a small, regional Australian university with a diverse student cohort of domestic and international on-campus and external students. We argue that CoPs provide a number of key professional supports for academic staff: real communication and ongoing dialogue across institutional barriers; a sense of trust required to open up a safe place to share common challenges and enable social learning; support and professional development for course leaders; and a model of strategic thinking and strategic action in a changing institutional environment.
McDonald, J., Collins, P., Hingst, R.D., Kimmins, L., Lynch, B., & Star, C., 2008. Community learning: member's stories about their academic community of practice. HERDSA 2008 International Conference: Engaging Communities.