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Title: Web 2.0, online communities of practice, professional learning and research impact: Year 1 data from a national initiative
Authors: Leask, M
Constable, H
Issue Date: 2008
Publisher: Charles University
Citation: IFIP WG 3.5, Valuing Individual and Shared Learning: The Role of ICT. Prague, Czech Republic, 23-26 June 2008.
Abstract: Background : This paper presents the outcomes of the first year of a national knowledge management initiative in England intended to provide online communities of practice (CoPs) or professional (as opposed to social) networking using web 2.0 tools to those working to improve the services provided by local government including schooling. More than 200 communities with nearly 7,000 members covering a wide range of areas of practice were established in the first year. Members include practitioners, senior managers, councillors and policy makers from central, local and regional government. The initiative called “Communities of Practice for local government” can be found at and is supported by the Improvement and Development agency for local government (IDeA, .) Research questions informing this paper were focused on take up, cost benefits, unintended outcomes and whether the communities were achieving their intended purposes. The methods used to collect the data included: web statistical packages with data from all communities (200); telephone interviews with facilitators and contributors of 9 of the communities with most interactions; analysis of materials on the online communities and analysis of the use of web 2.0 tools for document creation and sharing on selected community workspaces. These data were supported by supplementary email exchanges. The results demonstrate gains in just in time learning with a wide range of types of learning being undertaking as well as gains in knowledge sharing and creation particularly with respect to ‘grey literature’ i.e. documents which are produced within organizations often at considerable cost of staff time e.g. strategy papers but which are not normally published. The conclusions are that close coupling of research and development programmes with practitioners and policy makers through online communities of practice (accessible anytime anywhere by users) bypasses what were previously communication blockages in knowledge transfer and knowledge development across national systems. Using the online workspace can also provide timely and cost-effective professional learning through knowledge transfer and knowledge creation both for established staff but also for new staff who can easily find out the key debates and key documents in their professional community.
Appears in Collections:Education
Dept of Education Research Papers

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