Applying a communities of practice model to research partnerships

Year: 2005

Author: Hartnell-Young, Elizabeth, McGuinness, Keryn

Type of paper: Refereed paper

Abstract:
The quality and relevance of research is determined by those it affects, not just those who fund it or engage in it. A communities of practice model can bring together these diverse interests to meet national and local needs. Practice, the social production of meaning, is the source of coherence of a community. The specific practice of educational research is building and testing knowledge, and through the learning process necessary for this practice, numerous communities emerge, with complex boundaries and peripheries, depending on people's roles, purposes and expertise.

Communication technologies can facilitate communities of practice, so that online dialogue, rather than replacing personal contact, facilitates reflection and connections to other communities. Online environments appear to have potential as a means of increasing the involvement of stakeholders in devising the research agenda, conducting research and sharing the resulting knowledge. Online environments help counter the 'tyranny of distance' and connect stateholders nationally. This paper evaluates the development and implementation of communities of practice supported by the online environment of the National Quality Schooling Framework (www.nqsf.edu.au) and Think.com, and highlights the importance of sociability and usability in achieving quality.

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