As educators we are all aware of the fundamental social nature of human learning. We regularly encourage interaction and collaboration amongst students to stimulate communication and boost relationship-building as well as overall performance. Your group of students in your classroom are a community in itself, sharing common interests, difficulties and goals. Similarly, others in a profession like yours would be experiencing comparable challenges, passions and highs and lows. A Community of Practice (CoP) could provide professional support, inspiration, and indeed, a sense of community.
Members of a CoP would normally have a passion towards a common area of interest and have a shared sense of identity. Willingness to share ideas and a repertoire of resources particularly helps to create a fulfilling learning and collaborative experience. Care, interaction and sense of commitment are vital elements for a community to thrive and survive the test of time. Garfield (2018) summarises a number of principles for a community to survive in organisations:
- They must be independent of organisational structure;
- Community membership must be voluntary; it cannot be forced;
- Communities should span organisational, functional and geographic boundaries;
- Communities must be nurtured;
- They are not simply teams, sites, blogs… they consist of people who interact.
To help colleagues connect and collaborate internationally, Learning & Teaching Services (UPA) have a directory of Navitas Communities of Practice. Various platforms can be used to suit the members, and these may include email, Zoom/Skype, Yammer, Slack, Moodle forums, Teacher Lounges on Moodle and at times also face to face gatherings. Academic Directors from Navitas colleges across the globe meet through online ZOOM meetings on a monthly basis, sharing good practice and giving each other tips and ideas.
The following existing Navitas groups have been very successful:
- The Educational Development group is co-led by Program Convenors/ Academic Coordinators/ Discipline Leads to discuss and share best practice on myriad of learning and teaching themes such as learning technologies, assessment, academic integrity, curriculum design, teacher training and also day to day process and procedures linked to their roles (Contact McRae@navitas.com for more information).
- The Engineering and Information Technology CoP currently consists of members from Edith Cowan College, Deakin College, Griffith College, Curtin College and SIBT. Some topics discussed so far have been diagnostic tests, Maths results, benchmarking and peer review (Contact Odeh@sibt.nsw.edu.au for more information).
- Some members of an Arts and Communication CoP for Program Convenors/Academic Coordinators have recently worked on a conference presentation for the Australia and New Zealand Communication Association (Contact Mortimer@curtincollege.edu.au for more information).
Emerging communities across Navitas include:
- TEN Community for Teaching Excellence at Navitas (TEN). Navitas academic staff participating in TEN will have a space on the Learning & Teaching Moodle to interact, provide peer-to-peer feedback, share ideas and resources, discuss challenges, provide tips, review action research and more (Contact email@example.com for more information).
- Humanities CoP (Design, Art, Interior Architecture) “For teachers in the Humanities, particularly in Design and Art and Interior Architecture, to share best practice, for problem solving and a collegial developing of ideas for increasing student engagement in units with a focus on practical outcomes and authentic assessment. This group aims to use a platform that will allow ease of communication and an opportunity to collaborate or to simply ask questions or find support from colleagues across Navitas.” – Frances Rhodes. Contact Frances.Rhodes@curtincollege.edu.au for more information).
- Higher Ed Teaching CoP (Counselling, Coaching, Criminology, Psychology, Social Work) “The main goal of this CoP is to connect and share best practice and resource on teaching practice and learning technologies. This is a constructive CoP with a focus on contemporary teaching practices that aims to make students future ready. We currently use Yammer, as the main platform to connect and communicate with the teachers and then hold Zoom meetings as needed.” – Slaven Drinovac. (Contact Slaven.Drinovac@acap.edu.au for more information).
If you are part of any other Navitas CoPs not mentioned above and would like to be included here to invite more members, or would like to join a particular group in your area of interest, or perhaps you wish to start a new one, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.