“Communities of Practice and the Stages of Community Development: How essential are they?”

Communities of Practice

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No man is an island. I strongly believe that communities play a vital role towards gearing the learning process. As people engage in and contribute to the practices of communities, learning is also fostered. Learning proves essential for the development of a certain community. I myself have been involved with communities, thus this ‘socialization’ process had contributed to my overall well-being. It is well said that communities of practice involve critical thinking skills, but of course, the element of ‘socialization’ is very crucial in adhering to the motivation of the organization or the community itself.

Etienne Wenger showed emphasis on the Communities of Practice (CoP’s), thus having three distinct elements. The domain is what constitutes to the interest, competence, and commitment of community members. The community encourages collective learning through joint activities, discussions, problem-solving opportunities, information sharing and relationship building. And lastly, practice is being employed by community members, thus build a shared repertoire of resources and ideas.

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Let me provide a brief scenario on how CoP’s are applied at a “barangay” level. Way back 2018, we were assigned by our senior high school instructor to conduct a case study on topics related to social and current issues. I had observed that with the implementation of “Oplan Tokhang” under the Duterte Administration, countless drug addicts were reported and arrested. Based on the findings of our “barangay” officials, majority of drug addicts in our community are truck drivers.  

The concerns about the barangay members, in regards to the number of drug addicts active in the community served as the domain of the barangay. The “Oplan Tokhang” campaign by the President served as the practice of barangay officials, especially when taking down drug addicts. Local residents were also interviewed and asked to describe incidents of drug-related crimes within their community. This tells me that CoP’s are applicable even within small communities.  

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In conclusion, CoP’s serves as a tool for encouraging communities to socialize and interact. But is not always the case that CoP’s will provide immediate solutions. Despite having conflicts or independent social spaces, sharing the same passion or interest and putting it into practice will help the community prosper.

Stages of Community Development

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We all know that development is critical in strengthening a community and its goals. Truly, communities aspire for development by simply providing a solution to a specific problem. That is why communities need to plan cohesively in order to attain short-term or long-term goals. I later discovered through a lecture during our Knowledge Management class, that community development encompasses five different stages.

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The planning stage of community development shows emphasis on attaining the objectives of an organization, through logical thinking and rational decision-making. Of course, in order to take the best course of action, planning is relevant and effective. Planning requires small steps and needs to be feasible and practical.

The word “coalescing” may be new to some, but it is simply the process of converging community members especially when applying the communities of practice per se. In this stage, community members collect and analyze information, and cater to the needs of citizens by developing an effective communication process.

The maturing stage of community development entails effective decision-making, most especially that communities heavily rely on strong, independent leaders, to ensure that problems are dealt when they spin out of control.

Stewardship is about action. This stage ensures that communities have the capacity to lessen poverty and improve the quality of life. Roles are very crucial, especially when local communities need to sustain their resources.

And lastly, the transformation stage elicits openness and boundaries. Development will most likely be achieved when community members are flexible and are open to public opinion or suggestions. Communities need to engage in discipline, therefore boundaries are set.

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This topic reminds me of our National Service Training Program (NSTP) way back first year college. As students or members of the University, we were designated at a nearby community or “barangay”. Through a communication plan, we raised our concerns to the “barangay” captain, regarding the facilitation and improvement of the barangay. Our NSTP instructor assigned to use different roles in order to effectively execute the program. After days of oriental-cleaning, we received positive feedback from the residents of the community.

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In conclusion, the five stages of community development are essential to identify an organization’s goals with the community and manage some of its known conflicts while generally promoting change and development.

References:

David, L. (2014, July 16). Communities of Practice (Lave and Wenger). Retrieved November 17, 2020, from https://www.learning-theories.com/communities-of%5B1%5Dpractice-lave-and-wenger.html

Edmonton Regional Learning Consortium. (n.d.). What is a community of practice? Retrieved November 17, 2020, from http://www.communityofpractice.ca/background/what-is-a-community-of%5B1%5Dpractice/

Edmonton Regional Learning Consortium. (n.d.). Why Communities of Practice are Important? Retrieved November 17, 2020, from http://www.communityofpractice.ca/background/why-communities-of-practice%5B1%5Dare-important/

Gonçalves, L. (2020, June 9). Communities of Practice: Everything You Need To Know. Retrieved November 17, 2020, from https://adaptmethodology.com/communities-of-practice/

Ingram, D. (2019), Examples of Organization Planning. Retrieved November 17, 2020 from https://smallbusiness.chron.com/examples-organizational-planning-13836.html

Simon, N. (2016). How Do You Define Community? Retrieved on November 17, 2020, from http://www.artofrelevance.org/2018/02/20/how-do-you-define-community/.

Spacey, J. (2019), 5 examples of plan. Retrieved November 17, 2020 from https://simplicable.com/new/plans

Wenger, E. ET. Al (2015). Introduction to communities of practice. Retrieved on November 17, 2020, from https://wenger-trayner.com/introduction-to-communities-of-practice/.

Published by janvincentbarroga

I am currently a BA-Communications student from the University of Baguio.

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