Communities of Practice (was Intro -- Gerhard Gruber ) LO21832
Fri, 4 Jun 1999 09:03:10 -0500

Replying to LO21816

Gerhard mentions 'communities of practice'. Etienne Wenger's book
builds on the work of John Seeley Brown and others at Xerox/PARC.
( )

James Botkin takes the concept yet another step in his hew book. In 1979
Botkin wrote the book, No Limits to Learning, in response to an even
earlier work called Limits to Growth (which I believe posited that there
was after all a limit to the growth of the human population). No Limits
to Growth is a report prepared under the auspices of the Club of Rome
examining the need to think differently about education. The title
derives from the notion that, of all the resources available to us on
earth, it may be that -learning- is the only resource without limits. Or
perhaps, if there are indeed limits, we have no clue what they are because
we dont begin to use the potential we already know exists -- we dont use
the learning capabilities of a vast majority of the people of the South
(taken to mean generally the developing countries of Africa and South
America) and of a significant minority of the people of the North (i.e.,
the illiterate or functionally illiterate minority population).

Botkins new book is Smart Business: How Knowledge Communities Can
Revolutionize Your Company. He writes:
"Communities of practice are similar to knowledge communities in that
they both describe how work gets done and how participation gives identity
and meaning to their members work. The difference is that communities of
practice are informal groups, shaped by circumstances, visible mainly to
social anthropologists. Knowledge communities are purposely formed --
some, like those at AT&T, even have formal membership lists -- and their
purpose is to shape future circumstances. They are highly visible to
every business person in the organization." (p 31)

So. The ideas continue to evolve. Or is it mutate? Or metamorphose?

Michael A
- Michael Ayers
Mailto: Voice (651) 733-5690) FAX (651) 737-7718
IT Educ&Perf Svcs 3M Center 224-2NE-02 PO Box 33224 St. Paul MN
Sometimes the right question is, 'Are we asking the right question?'
Ideas contained in this note represent the author's opinions and
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Smart Business : How Knowledge Communities Can Revolutionize Your Company by James W. Botkin


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