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Communities of Practice

Skills for Life Network

Communities Of Practice

The Communities of Practice strand is proving to be as organic as we expected. Co-leads Punam and Lou keep an ear to the ground and the programme is evolving with input from APs. This co-constructed way of working is very stimulating! Initially envisaged as digital only, it became clear that APs wanted to meet and get to know one another before continuing their relationships online. Responding to this, we organised a Connections Day in Birmingham on October 19th and we were delighted when 24 out of 50 APs were able to attend.

The day introduced the Thinking Environment, provided a new perspective on evaluation (“shiny blue things”) and enabled a space for APs to meet in Action Learning Sets and review progress. It also outlined the ‘AP Connect Wireframe’: an online formalisation of the strand’s requirements, which we’ve co-constructed with participants. This full day, attended by Julie Gibbings-Garrett (Head of Teaching, Learning and Assessment) and Vic Dejean (Associate) from our funders The Education and Training Foundation, also squeezed in some impromptu Twitter training! Evaluations were overwhelmingly positive, with two participants saying, 

‘It was super to meet you all, I loved it. Such a strange paradox; online then in person. It felt like we were old friends.’ 

‘Passion of trainers, infectious, positive and purposeful Training day – great work.’

Communities of practice
Communities of practice

Online, the pace has quickened too. Freedom needs boundaries and APs told us that they wanted more structure to their online experience, so we set about building an online course on the Canvas platform. It’s been a learning curve! The best part of the experience has been interacting with APs, collecting ideas and suggestions for how to make it best work for them. There are now eight modules, which both capture essential data and – equally importantly – provide a space for APs to collaborate and reflect.

The spirit of co-production is particularly live in Module 5, which introduces the Matrix of Opportunities we’ve promised from the start. The Matrix is a Padlet, a place where we can all share events (virtual and face-to-face), opportunities for writing, sharing and speaking, funding and research etc. Please do add to this. It is accompanied by a second Padlet space, for APs to share directly with each other. We’ve no doubt that this rationalisation and expansion of our online offer will ignite some superb discussions in Action Learning Sets and elsewhere online to build on and expand this CoP strand.  

Matrix padlet

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