Collaborative working exceeded my expectations

Learning communities are not an unknown concept. We basically start when we are students at school. Mostly, we do not see the advantages (except when you are the person who is free riding). Mostly it is more work and less efficient. BUT when I got older and started university I realised that there are some courses where it might be beneficial to work in a group. Now, in this Open Networked Learning course I fully see the potential. Our group makes so much out of each and everyones strength but I feel like there are some prerequisites:

  • everyone has to put in effort
  • the internal motivation
  • shared values
  • common goals
  • fixed meeting times
  • efficient work during that time
  • good documentation

I really like Wenger`s quote: “On the one hand, a community of practice is a living context that can give newcomers access to competence and also can invite a personal experience of engagement by which to incorporate that competence into an identity of participation. On the other hand, a well functioning community of practice is a good context to explore radically new insights without becoming fools or stuck in some dead end.” (Wenger, 1998, p. 214)

Especially by using technology, it is easy to work collaboratively. Firstly, there needs to be a space for proper documentation and best would be a structured format (e.g. in a google doc or Etherpad). Secondly, there needs to be a virtual meeting room for the fixes meetings. Thirdly, there should be a platform, where people are encouraged to share knowledge. Something that is easy to access (e.g. Miro board or a Moodle). Also there should be a chat for quick communication (liek google chat)

How would I like to establish a community of practice?

I would really like to establish a learning community in my class or at my school. As I will be a teacher, it would be great if people get a platform where they can share knowledge and see the value of sharing.

On a small scale: When I am a teacher, I would need to give the students a task, where they are not limited in their creativity so that they can use the full potential of working collaboratively. What I learned is also to give them enough time to discuss how they want to work as a group. Also, I should be aware of the challenge of everyone just working on their part.

On a bigger scale: I wanna introduce a platform where teachers are encouraged to share research, teaching material or tools to be used in science classes. The benefit would be immense but I guess much patience is needed!


I really enjoyed working on topic 3 and I hope to be part of big learning communities in the future. I realised that I can extend my knowledge so much easier by learning from others. Thank you!



Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity (1st ed.). Cambridge University Press.


Gregor says:

Awesome, Annika, that you have ben enjoying collaborative learning so much. And very interesting thoughts and observations. Thank you for sharing! I guess really key is the task that a community has to solve. La pour la communities are doomed to fade. Is that why the ONL alumni groups on the various platforms are not thriving? Everyone I know enjoyed the ONL community and more specifically their pbl groups so much while their course lasted, but returning to alumni groups does not seem to be rewarding enough to make people stick. Lack of common tasks and goals? Do you see other reasons?

Thank you for the comment and the thoughts! Really interesting.
It would be definitely the lack of common tasks and goals but also the fact that not everyone puts an equal amount of effort. I guess the fear of people is always to “waste ressources” by sharing material, thoughts and information to others and not getting back the same or an equal amount. The same reason why a lot of people do not create OER. But that is just a guess.
Maybe it would be different if there are meetings every half year or so to exchange and keep the alumni group alive. (If that is not already the case…) Having a set time and exchanging ideas in person could be really valuable and keeps the group work going. It would be an interesting research topic. 😀

Jan Akmal says:

I appreciate your thoughts, Annika. I could identify with your observations on the advantages and prerequisites of successful learning communities.
One significant challenge I see is the need to strike a balance between formality and informality. Establishing necessary processes is essential to involve everyone and to formally document all work. At the same time, it’s equally vital to not stifle the organic flow and exchange of thoughts and ideas. Each member of the community should feel liberated to express new insights. I also enjoyed Wenger’s quote on this topic. You have rightfully pointed out the importance of allocating time for briefing and discussing ways in which students can work together because assuming that students already know how to collaborate is not always the case.

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