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In this section, we take a brief look at communities of practice (CoP) — a concept proposed by Etienne Wenger and Jean Lave[1] in 1991, to describe the process of collective learning in an area of shared interest.



Community of practice
Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do, and who learn how to do it better as they interact regularly[2].

There are three characteristics which distinguish a community of practice:

  1. Domain: The group’s identity is defined by a shared interest – for example, facilitating the co-operative development and adoption of OER in teaching.
  2. Community action: Members participate in joint activities and discussions to share information and help each other. Note that a website with a list of members is not of itself a community of practice – the members must take part in activities or discussions to help each other in their domain of interest.
  3. The practice: Communities of practice are more than just communities of interest. Members actively share practice – for instance, by sharing resources, tools, and ways of addressing recurring problems.


Sharing ideas for practices

Mastodon post

Please share your ideas for practices and activities to build a thriving community of practice co-operating on the development and sharing of OER for teaching in your country. Please include the #DS4OERS and #cop hashtags in the body text of your post. For example:

  • Set up a digital messaging platform for teachers to support each other in #OER development. This is a #cop idea we should consider in Samoa #ds4oers
  • Help teachers in Fiji to create a dedicated #cop list on mastodon which can be used as a support group for helping #OER practitioners. #ds4oers

Search on mastodon.oeru.org using #cop as the search term to see ideas suggested by your peers.


  1. Lave, Jean, and Wenger, Etienne. (1991). Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-42374-8. (first published in 1990 as Institute for Research on Learning report 90-0013)
  2. Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner. (2015). Introduction to Communities of Practice. A brief overview of the concept and its uses