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Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity (Learning in Doing: Social, Cognitive and Computational Perspectives) 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521663632
ISBN-10: 0521663636
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Frequently Bought Together

  • Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity (Learning in Doing: Social, Cognitive and Computational Perspectives)
  • +
  • Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation (Learning in Doing: Social, Cognitive and Computational Perspectives)
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  • Cultivating Communities of Practice
Total price: $110.77
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The terms of debate about 'knowledge management' and 'learning organizations' are slowly, and finally turning from issues of information and technology to those of human capabilities and the sources of motivation, creativity, and problem-solving skills that create real value in the new economy. Wenger is light years ahead in understanding those sources, and the critical importance of informal communities and 'social learning' in fostering them." Phillip Brook Manville, Partner, McKinsey & Co.

Book Description

Learning is becoming an urgent topic. Nations worry about the learning of their citizens, companies about the learning of their workers, schools about the learning of their students. But it is not always easy to think about how to foster learning in innovative ways. This book presents a framework for doing that, with a social theory of learning that is ground-breaking yet accessible, with profound implications not only for research, but also for all those who have to foster learning as part of their responsibilites at work, at home, at school.
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Product Details

  • Series: Learning in Doing: Social, Cognitive and Computational Perspectives
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (September 28, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521663636
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521663632
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #241,011 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on March 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
For those grappling with the need to understand and talk about how people come together and interact beyond the org. chart, this book has a lot to offer. Theoretically-based, it focuses on a social theory of learning that is broad enough to cover a wide range of human activities, well beyond what we would normally consider to be 'learning'. 'Communities of practice' offers a comprehensive framework for understanding and analysing what people do in the context of their social milieu. The author includes many examples and uses a work-place vignette to illustrate the relevance and power of his ideas. If you are not afraid of theory and abstraction and are open to new concepts, this book may indeed be revolutionary.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was a slow, arduous read, but well worth the effort.

I teach at a school that is part of the Professional Learning Communities (PLC) movement. Wenger's book has shed light on why "top-down" implementation of school improvement has failed. The guru of the PLC movement, Richard Dufour (2004), claims that the three big ideas of PLC's are ensuring that students learn, a culture of collaboration and a focus on results. It is in this context that I found Wenger's book valuable in understanding the poverty of the PLC movement.

Wenger claims that communities of practice are learning communities. Are Professional Learning Communities true learning communities as described by Wenger? The answer is no. In a learning community there is interplay between reification and participation. Reification is the artifacts and procedures of previous practice. Participation is the activity engaged in by the practitioner for the organization that results in reification. It is not an either/or model, but dualism. It is within this interplay that learning about practice and the ownership of meaning and identity formation takes place.

Teachers directed by their employer to become PLCs are required to make such large changes in their teaching practices that they become overwhelmed and lost in establishing new practices. The reason for this is that the PLC regime does not consider the requisite identity work and the time required for teachers to own the meaning of new practices. PLCs are not true learning communities.

What about schools? Wenger claims a community of practice emerges when an organization sets forth a structure to accomplish its goal: "...
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Format: Hardcover
A wonderful book that uses communities of practice as the entry-point to think about learning along several rich dimensions (e.g., meaning in relation to participation and artifacts, the relationship between identity and learning).
Definitely worth a slow, reflective reading.
Provides a lot of context for thinking about organizational learning.
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Format: Paperback
This book is written primarily for academics. Wenger challenges educational institutions to re-think their basic assumptions about learning (e.g., its social aspects, its relationship to practice, and the role of teaching).

I found the book to be very thought provoking, but I would recommend his 2002 book, "Cultivating Communities of Practice," for practitioners.

Michael Beitler

Author of "Strategic Organizational Learning"
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a really good read on one of the core elements of a situated perspective on learning. It's incredibly accessible (Wenger is so good at making the thing readable and he's a fabulous writer) and super thorough and comprehensive. As someone who's still just exploring this (I only ever read one book on situated learning and I've never taken a graduate course in anything), it's really eye-opening and provocative.

My gripe is that there's a lot in this book. A lot. There could be whole books written on boundary, identities, organizational/education design, etc. I'm compelled to re-read this because I fear I missed a lot since it's just got a lot in it.

I really wish I had read this book before I started undergrad. Could've changed the way I think about how I learn.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book for use in a class at the University of Michigan (SI 422). While many of the topics presented and discussed are great, and very interesting, the book fails to be engaging by any means. The language is very dry and ends up being a difficult read. I would not recommend this book as a casual read of any sort.
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Format: Paperback
In this book the author explores the concept of organizational design from two perspectives of practice and identity and explores how those perspectives inform the creation of community within organizations as well as the power dynamics that occur as a result. The author has some intriguing ideas to present and it's worth a read if you are interested in building community or improving the efficacy of your organization. This is an academic text, so it's not focused on how to build community, however you can get a lot of ideas from reading the text. I'd recommend it as a way of also understanding some of the dynamics in your organization so that you can make changes or make your organization sustainable.
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