I love the theme this week because knowledge communities and communities of practice are increasingly where I’m seeing a focus for study.
Professionally, I work for the MD program at Western, so this is my primary community of practice. This is actually a really interesting community in that it is actually the intersection of multiple other (often non-complementary) communities. There is a clear delineation between faculty and staff and a less clear, but still defined, delineation between clinical faculty and basic science faculty. The communities are separated by both the governing bodies that we work under (in fact, staff are either members of the Professionals Associate or the Administrative Union – again operating in different spheres) but also the domains of knowledge that they operate within.
The tensions that exist between these communities is fascinating and often lead to ineffeciencies in enacting the work of designing, delivering and adminitrating the program.
I have personal experience of trying to transcend the community lines – which is frustrating at times. I am staff, so I have had to fight for a seat at the table where strategic decision making is done.
I actually have drafted a research proposal studying the complexities of this network of practice – but as an insider clearly aligned with one stakeholder group, there are multiple challenges of doing this research. The biggest challenge flagged for me is that it could present one or more communities unfavourably.
The other communities that I belong to are the community of postgraduate students at OISE. I have to admit, that I have not been a very active member of this community. Being based in London and flextime, I’ve found it challenging at times to fully engage in this community. I’m trying to participate more in research opportunities. Within this same domain, I’m trying to expand by PLN (professional learning network), which is currently primarily based on Twitter. My PLN consists of critical thinkers in ed tech, digital pedagogy, critical pedagogy, social justice education, etc. I still very much feel like an outsider in many of the discussions that are occuring in these spaces, and I’m not quite sure how to overcome that.