Is Our Group a Learning Community, Learning Circle or Community of Practice?

Though there are differences, you will often find the terms Learning Community, Learning Circle and Community of Practice used interchangeably. They are all groups of individuals who learn from each other, and with each other, on an ongoing basis with the goal of improving their work. 

Like any network of people, communities of practice are generally self-organized by people who share common work practice. As with the other labels, any of these relationship groupings have a desire to share what they know, support one another, and create new knowledge for their field of practice.

But communities of practice (CoP) differ from networks in that they are intended to be "communities" in which people make a commitment to be there for each other. They should participate not just for their own needs, but to serve the needs of others.

A CoP is very "open source" with a commitment to advance the field of practice and to make their resources and knowledge available to anyone, especially those doing related work.

A learning circle is a highly interactive, participatory structure for organizing group work. The goal is to build, share, and express knowledge though a process of open dialogue and deep reflection around issues or problems with a focus on a shared outcome.

Online learning circles take advantage of social networking tools to manage collaborative work over distances following a timeline from the open to close of the circle. Learning circles usually have a final project or goal which collects the shared knowledge generated during the interactions. Learning circles are a way to organize learning in global projects. They are also being used in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

But again, there is crossover with these terms. I have even seen articles about "Creating a Community of Practice Using Learning Circles

Almost anyone can facilitate a learning circle, whether it is a single learning circle in your home or multiple circles across a an organization like a university or library system. 

Education Trends 2017


The headline came up this week in my feed, "5 Education themes that impacted the industry in 2017." The caveat, perhaps, is that this story ran in the India Times, which made me curious how different those trends might be from the U.S.

They mention that trying to show ROI from earlier trends (flipped classrooms, multilingual learning, faculty professional development, gamification, personalized and adaptive learning, online secure infrastructure, knowledge networks and virtual simulated practice environments etc.) and being pushed to stay ahead of the technology curve might make adoption of newer trends more difficult. Education apps for content, distribution, and collaboration are also in the mix.

In India, the e-learning market hit almost 11 billion in USD in 2016. Here are the 5 trends seen there this year in brief (in this article's perspective).

Personalized learning - bundling content in a specific learning environment that meets the individual student's needs. Content is generally delivered through online and micro learning.

The Cloud - has become cheaper, faster and green.

Safeguarding Personal Identifiable Information (PII) - Our digital footprints - both intentional and unintentional ones - leave learners open to even more vulnerabilities than the average citizen, but losing data and reputation besides the financial damage and emotional distress and overall risk. 4

Gamification, Simulations and Digital Badging - this has been a "trend" for so many years without ever being fully realized that I wonder if it belongs on trend lists any more. Yes, phone apps use gamification as a technique to keep you hooked through notifications, points, and rewards, so that learners are already used to using to them - and probably expect them in many instances. I still don't see a widely accepted of awarding achievement or recognition. 

Leveraging Learning Analytics - AI plays a role in making it possible for a machine to learn over millions of interaction inputs and predict student errors, trends and projections.