ALT Lab is a home for VCU communities of practice around distinctive, effective, and connected learning.
Connected learning is directly related to the idea of Communities of Practice, groups of people bound together by a shared interest or purpose, actively working towards a product that can be shared with a broader audience. Communities of Practice can be defined in terms of their members, their shared interests, their meeting spaces (virtual, physical, or both), and their practices (how the group takes action). VCU’s rich tradition of Faculty Learning Communities finds renewed expression in ALT Lab’s work with Communities of Practice.
Communities of practice have the potential to:
• Develop professional skills in an inclusive environment. The best communities of practice consist of individuals with diverse skills so that informal mentoring relationships around a variety of topics can emerge.
• Answer questions. Communities of practice act as ready-made information networks for members. If a member has a question or problem relevant to the community domain, someone else in the network may already know the answer or have access to the required information.
• Create and spread knowledge. Communities of practice pool their collective intelligence to create focused solutions for socially contextualized problems. Through each member’s unique network both within the organization and beyond, communities of practice also disseminate their work and its results to broader audiences. Strategies of digital engagement act as a multiplier for these network effects.
• Foster sustainable change. Communities of practice help change to emerge, take hold, and endure.