Communities of Practice 7

“Learning is central to human identity and we tend to think that it only takes place when we enroll for a workshop or course”.


I read a book Communities of Practice by Wenger and found his view about how learning takes place very interesting. Learning is central to human identity and we tend to think that it only takes place when we enroll for a workshop or course.


According to Wenger people learn better in a community of practice (CoP).  This term was first used in 1991 by theorists Lave and Wenger who discussed the notion of participation.  Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly. I see Skills Universe as a CoP. 


We share a passion for training and we learn through interaction on the internet via this website, on a regular basis. We share experiences and resources which help us to learn from each other. This learning takes place intentionally, but mainly unintentionally.


Development and learning takes place through a variety of methods:  problem solving, requests of information, discussing educational issues and trends … all of these happens on Skills Universe.


As social beings this type of learning suits our identity. Identity addresses different issues:  gender, class, ethnicity, age, etc.  To understand all these issues will contribute to understanding your learners and yourself. Discussing the different types of identities and how it affects our learning is another topic which I will still discuss.

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7 thoughts on “Communities of Practice

  • Gaboutlwelwe Dennis Nyengwa

    Hi all, you guys have it all summed up. CoP is within us as a community of experts. one actually feels part of all the learnings shared and yes, we can maybe also consolidate and concretise the relationship as a Skills Universe CoP.

    Thanks Wilma for posting such an interesting topic

  • Wilma de Villiers Post author

    Sylvia and Karen, I agree with you that a CoP is in all walks of life and even in our families.  We also tend to forget that we are in a CoP with our students; not only do they learn from us and their peers, we also learn from them.

    Zerelda, my main reason for joining skills universe is that I could not keep up with all the changes in education and this platform provides the opportunity to be aware of the latest trends and changes in education.

  • Deon Binneman

    In my Stakeholder Reputation workshops I teach that Communities of Practice have now very much evolved into digital communities, and that organisations need to identify and profile these groups as part of their stakeholder profiling exercises.

    Becoming active in a COP and building relationships with its members and sharing knowledge and resources is a key activity to build an organisation’s reputation.

    I run a COP on Linkedin for those interested in learning more about Stakeholder Management  –

  • Zerelde Uys

    Yes Wilma, this is definitely a CoP, and of great value if you think that it creates a ‘tea-room conversation’ for those not always in contact with other practitioners on a regular basis. I also think this is one of the methodologies of learning that should be utilised much more in learning programmes as well. We just live in an age where we cannot afford to miss any opportunity to learn and apply our ideas – and a CoP certainly provides excellent opportunities for that. I also think that Skills Universe has proved that it can be practiced on a virtual platform with great success.  


    Hi Wilna

    Good call on the identity of CoP’s which has become a bit of  Oxford jargon in the corporate world – something hallowed and out there. Whereas, in truth, this is the way our families and people have shared culture and tradition over the ages. From the interaction I have seen on Skills Universe to date, I believe we have a CoP that can really make a developmental impact if we pool our strengths.




  • Joan du Plessis

    Yes, certain professions have formalised this type of learning: for instance, in psychology, psychiatry and social work where counselling is carried out, practitioners are expected to have “supervisors” (not line supervisors, i.e. management) who provide support  and assist the practitioners to remain objective and effective. The medical profession also evolved a complex system of relationships between specialists and general practitioners: the gp’s refer to their support system of specialists, to whom they can turn for informal advice.

    It is encouraging to see a COP available for skills development practitioners – the more challenging the environment, the greater the need for such a support.

  • Sylvia F. Hammond

    Thank you very much for this contribution Wilma.  It’s interesting that Communities of Practice seems to so often be associated with professional occupations, but it seems to me that it applies in all walks of life to all occupations.  I look forward to your comments on identity.