Communities of Practice

1. How would describe the concept of Communities of Practice in three sentences?

A community of practice is a collective of practitioners with a shared interest interacting regularly. The community acts as a catalyst for learning, either intentionally or incidentally. Members of the community transfer knowledge and experience of their practice through sharing resources, techniques, tools and information, which cultivates and nourishes the community into a fertile learning environment.

2. How do you think Etienne Wenger’s ideas about Communities of Practice might relate to your own teaching practice, including your forthcoming studies on the PG Cert?

Applying the Communities of Practice model to my own teaching practice highlights methods to enhance a learning environment. By being aware of the social cohesion within a group dynamic effects and prompts different learning systems. Through encouraging discourse, collaboration, knowledge sharing, peer-to-peer evaluation and support networks within the group assist in increasing the effectiveness of learning.

To reappraise the hierarchical educational structure the students are familiar with by suggesting learning does not just exist with the classroom context; encouraging regular visits to relevant exhibitions, museums and widening their frame of reference.

The framework of the PG Cert introduced in the L&TAD Orientation Session illustrated parallels with the Communities of Practice idea. The ‘Learning Groups’, collaborative online activities, self and peer assessments, teaching observations all prompt a collective and collaborative learning arena. It establishes a Community of Practice and awaits the practitioners and subsequent learning…

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PG Cert in Academic Practice

I am a lead tutor in Graphic Communication & Design on the CSM Foundation Course. The Foundation Course is an integral stage of art and design education, it bridges the gap between the abilities and framework installed at FE to the HE model of self initiated study/learning. The course enables students to sample a range of disciplines and then identify which of these disciplines they wish to pursue at HE level.

One of my main roles/responsibilities is to facilitate a learning environment which enables and motivates students of all abilities to engage fully in the subject and their practice. Once students are fully engaged and committed, their learning, development and confidence increases tremendously.

I enjoy writing a scheme of work and the supporting briefs/workshops which encompass and explore the gamut of Graphic Communication & Design. These have to appeal to the various interests and abilities of the students. It is always a pleasure to see a student respond positively to a workshop/brief and witness their “light” switch on.

When not teaching I run a small graphic design company; clients range from large corporations such as the BBC and ITV to small independent publishers. A design creative process is a transferable asset; from a college brief to a corporate brief the stages are the same, to a lesser or greater degree. This includes research, ideas development, experimentation, iteration, feedback and outcomes. All briefs have clear deliverables and deadlines, which require planning, time management, clear communication and documentation.

Through undertaking the PG Cert I intend to gain a deeper understanding of my teaching practice, to learn new skills, techniques and methods to enhance and ultimately ensure that I deliver the best learning experience for the students I can.

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