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Communities of Practice: A Research Paper Prepared by OER Africa

Numerous studies have found that people form relationships or communities through informal networks, based on their common backgrounds or where they are located. The word community has become very popular, with every group sharing an interest on a website today being termed a community. However, not everything called a community is a Community of Practice (CoP). A neighbourhood, for instance, is often called a community, but is usually not a CoP.

A CoP is a specific kind of community that is focused on a domain of knowledge and, over time, accumulates expertise in this domain. A CoP develops a shared practice by interacting around problems, solutions, and insights, as well as building a common store of knowledge.3 Much research describes CoPs that have been formed inside large organisations. These are generally made up of groups of people who have worked together over a period and who, through informal discussion, develop a common sense of purpose and a need to share work-related stories and experiences.

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