NOTICE: There is an updated version of all these FAQs on our new website:
How is a community of practice different from an informal network in regard to social learning?All communities of practice are networks in the sense that they involve connections among members. But not all networks are communities of practice: a community of practice entails shared domain that becomes a source of identification. This identity creates a sense of commitment to the community as a whole, not just connections to a few linking nodes. Communities and networks are often thought of as two different types of social structure. From this perspective, one would need to ask the question: given a group, is it a community or is it a network? We prefer to think of community and network as two aspects of social structuring, which require different forms of developmental work.
- The network aspect refers to the set of relationships, personal interactions, and connections among participants, viewed as a set of nodes and links, with its affordances for information flows and helpful linkages.
- The community aspect refers to the development of a shared identity around a topic that represents a collective intention—however tacit and distributed—to steward a domain of knowledge and to sustain learning about it.
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For more information, click here:
For a more precise definition, see our theory page on communities of practice:
For a bit more info, see our general (but brief) introduction to communities of practice and their use in various contexts:
For practical advice on cultivating communities of practice, see our new guidebook:
For workshops on cultivating communities of practice: