Which teacher training colleges take the CoP approach seriously?

Recently we were asked this question by a friend who is promoting this idea in Austria and wanted to know who to get in touch with (see email below).

We’ve been scratching our heads, because we know there is a lot going on, and there are certainly studies recommending that it happen, but we don’t know of an example of a teacher-training college doing it. It’s certainly something that the Education Guardian in the UK is proposing.

The closest example we can think of is the North Zone school district in Singapore, which has been using communities of practice for ongoing professional development for both administrators and teachers for almost ten years.

An example from a training college is documented in a PhD by Helen Hou who used a community of practice to support teachers doing their internship in rural schools in China. But we don’t know how systematically the approach has been used since then.

We would love to have some examples of teacher training colleges who are systematically taking a communities of practice approach. And here is Lotte’s email for context, if you think you could help her.

Let us know in the comments.

I am searching for two or three teacher training colleges that could serve us as role models and with whom we could get in touch personally. We assume that there are colleges/universities out there, that are taking the essence of CoP seriously and offer community based teacher training/further education/professionalisation – as a central strategy and not as a “nice-to-have” on top of everything else.


I am a freelance “CoP-lobbyist” and have been introducing way of CoP-thinking into teacher training/professionalisation in Austria, on the periphery.


I am working for a visionary, small e-learning unit, operating in a classical, hierarchical, 100% public setting. The question is: what would it mean to introduce CoPs as core staretegy? We would love to find peers in a similar situation. Currently we are offering classical online courses, e-Lectures, guided tours to MOOCs and have just started with two online communities.


We would love to talk to teacher training colleges which have gone down that road before us. We have questions regarding leadership, topic management, certification, access, publishing, budgeting -and especially selling the concept to a very hierarchical system.


Thank you for you advice!


Lotte Krisper-Ullyett,
Vienna, Austria

21 thoughts on “Which teacher training colleges take the CoP approach seriously?”

  1. Dear Bev and Etienne,

    A colleague and I are working with a group of students in a Creative Inquiry program at Clemson University to explore communities of practice in higher education. We are identifying educational processes for helping students develop skills and networks for sustained learning within the landscape of their practices. Although our application is not teacher training, it is related. Initial application of our work has been in the context of peer educator training in a Supplemental Instruction program. (In Supplemental Instruction, peer educators develop a session plan of collaborative activities designed to help students enrolled in difficult courses master course content and develop effective learning strategies.) We are working with faculty to develop proposals to move these processes into courses and a co-curricular program in a variety of disciplines. I can’t wait to meet you this summer at the State-of-the-Art Workshop and share with you our innovative work and to become more knowledgeable about social learning in CoPs!

    Laurel Whisler

      1. Hi Lotte, our last interaction with the folk in Indiana was about ten years ago. We’d be glad to make an introduction, if we know the person you would like to talk to.

        You should also ask Bronwyn Stuckey as she may well have contacts there.

        1. Lotte Krisper-Ullyett

          I would love to talk to the person who is involved in the question: “Will we continue like this? Why/why not?”

          And I would love to talk to the person who started it out 10 years ago.

    1. Lotte Krisper-Ullyett

      Dear Laurel,
      thank you for sharing your work. Is there a way to keep up with the developments of you projects? A blog, a newsletter or simply a website I could check from time to time?
      Thank you so much

    2. Hi everyone, I am Helen Hou who used an online community of practice to support student teachers’ professional learning during their school placement in China. Unfortunately, since I am now working in Ulster University, my colleagues in Guizhi Normal University, where my PhD study was carried out, are still using their traditional supervisory method and the online CoP model hasn’t been adopted yet. The model was indeed highly thought of by 43 student teachers as well as two university supervisors. It’s a shame that nobody there could feel confident enough to carry it on. I am very keen to explore its use in my current teaching context and will definitely keep you posted once there is anything new.

      I have recently published a paper based on my PhD focusing on exploring factors that make an online CoP work in a Chinese context. I provide the link here http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0742051X14001310 in case you may be interested in having a quick look.

      Best regards,

  2. Hi All,

    Nancy White just sent me the link to this conversation in response to a discussion she and I had yesterday when I gave her a tour of our new platform, kpublic.net. Knowledge in the Public Interest has been working on an integrated social learning platform and process since 2009 in the context of a project on improving college teaching. The focus of the work has been to operationalize embedding learning into work, and the sharing of tacit and explicit knowledge in multiple digital forms. The work has broad application for those who seek to advance the skills and knowledge of their communities of practice. kpublic.net has several digital dashboards, so just by doing their work, individuals and communities generate data that can be analyzed and accessible in real time. And for those who are interested there is a badging system and other “gamification” elements built in.

    You can learn a little more at:

    and https://takingcollegeteachingseriously.kpublic.net/home (the project that is the basis of the work)

    Our forthcoming book is a deep dive about the work: http://amzn.to/1NfnTv8

    Our research and experience (the project started in 2009) indicate two important achievements- participants both like and use the “tools and routines” we have designed and have iterated on for 6 years; and there was improved outcomes for students of faculty who participated.

    If you think it could be useful, I am happy to share what we have learned and are learning.

    1. Lotte Krisper-Ullyett

      Dear Diana,

      thank you so much!
      Lisa Levinson told me about this wonderful project last week.

      I understand that it is about sharing lessons on a weekly basis and collective tagging – as a main practice.

      Great – there will be a book about it, too!

      Through my research I have just stumbled across http://www.sharemylesson.com/
      Is this something similar, just for teachers?

      Amazing, all the things out there that haven´t made it to our country yet.

      Thank you for your help!

      PS I had to laugh about the word “seriously” in my question as well as in the name of your website. I must have picked that up subconsciously along the way from Lisa.

  3. Hi all,

    I do not know of any colleges/universities that are using community of practice concepts in pre-service teacher training either. However, I have been researching (for my PhD) Professional Learning Communities that grew out of organizational learning theories (e.g. Senge), but which have essentially operationalized communities (and constellations of communities) of practice within schools and school districts. Even if you can’t find a university doing this yet, I would recommend looking at what Rick & Becky DuFour and Robert Eaker have created so far: http://www.allthingsplc.info/ It might be a good model to implement anyway.

  4. Barb McDonald

    Hi Joitske,
    In doing a literature search today I came across an article written by professors at Samford University where they seem to have implemented a PLC. The abstract says: Professional learning communities in
    undergraduate teacher education can provide the fundamental bridge
    from candidate to professional practitioner.

    You might want to look at this paper:

    If you can’t get it, I downloaded it and can send it to you, if you like.


    1. Helen Keen-Dyer

      Hi Barb,

      I have just spotted this post and wondered if I could get a copy of the article from you that you mention? It has been a while since this was posted so if you can’t track it down all good – I will do another search when I get back from BEtreat.
      Cheers, helen

  5. This article may be of interest – it reports on a project carried out with students in teacher education in Ireland:
    Kenny, A. (2014). Practice through partnership: Examining the theoretical framework and development of a “community of musical practice”. International Journal of Music Education 32(4), 396-408. http://ijm.sagepub.com/content/32/4/396.abstract

  6. Dear All
    I have been responsible for a Continuing Professional Development programme for music teachers in London schools, based on a CoP model – Teach Through Music (www.teachthroughmusic.org.uk). It was a fascinating process, which challenged dominant culture in teacher education but proved immensely positive for the teachers – many of whom were disempowered by isolation as subject specialists within their schools. The programme has been fully evaluated and we are releasing a report on our learning next week.
    Andrea Spain
    Assistant Director of Music, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance

  7. Your research and comments are greatly appreciated. I am interested in and supportive of all the the work each of you is doing at your respective institutions. Your peers and students are so fortunate to have you! I am a graduate student at MSU Bozeman currently doing a qualitative research study on undergraduate research programs in Arts & Humanities (bascically non-STEM fields) that use CoP principles. Are any of you out there engaged in faculty mentoring for undergraduate research? What are the intersections between CoP/PLC/Mentoring groups, etc.? Is there any linkage between CoP and transformative changes at the curriculum, department, or administrative levels? (In other words, I suspect that CoP work in teacher training and undergraduate research programs could be highly transformative to academic discourse communities and changes to administrative approaches as well.

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