Communities of Practice

Communities of Practice FAQ

Communities of Practice – Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Community of Practice?

Etienne Wenger (1991) described Communities of Practice as “groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do, and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.” This shared passion is at the heart of a Community of Practice.

Who can join or create a Community of Practice?

Any full-time or adjunct faculty member at Harper College can join one of the current groups. New Communities of Practice focused on other topics will also be forming. Proposals to start new groups will be reviewed next year.

Why should I join or create a Community of Practice?

A Community of Practice will enable you to collaborate with other faculty, providing support and learning opportunities to enhance teaching practice. Participation builds shared understanding of important topics and facilitates action in support of student engagement, while creating a greater sense of community across the campus.

What will I do in a Community of Practice?

Participants commit to a year of membership in the community of practice, with meeting times and goals set by the community itself.   Members will develop individual or group projects that can be utilized in their teaching, along with a plan for assessing their projects and for sharing them with the wider faculty and staff community.

How much time will participation require?

The Community of Practice groups themselves will determine meeting schedules and structure. Participation is intended to be intellectually rigorous, but have the flexibility to fit into faculty schedules.

What kind of funding is available for each of the groups?

Professional development funds to support shared learning, such as travel to conferences, expenses for speakers or trainers, or the creation of new materials, will be available to participants. Funding will be awarded based on the action plan developed by the Community of Practice to accomplish its learning goals and plans for implementation.

Will this count toward tenure and promotion?

As an Academy-sponsored program, Communities of Practice are recognized as a rigorous form of faculty development. Participation should be noted on Form 1 in the same way as any other professional development activity.

Will CEUs or GECs be awarded for participation?

The Academy is currently investigating the possibility of awarding CEUs for participation in a Community of Practice.

How can I join one of the existing Communities of Practice?

Here are the steps in the process:

  1. Submit an application on the Academy website.
  2. Your application will be forwarded to the Facilitator of the Community of Practice.
  3. The facilitator will call you to discuss your interest.
I have a great idea. How can I create a new Community of Practice?

Great ideas are always welcome! New groups will be able to be formed next year. Contact the Academy for Teaching Excellence at for more information. Or, you can call the Chair of the Academy at ext. 6174.