What do CLIPs do | Why CLIPs are Important
CLIPs: A Distinct Type of Group
Roles and Responsibilities of CLIPs | Cultivating Successful CLIPs
We are defining Communities of Learning, Inquiry and Practice (CLIPs) as networks of educators and institutional stakeholders who share a concern, set of problems and/or a passion for learning. They want to associate with one another to learn from one another, thus increasing their own competence and improving collaboration and innovation in their institution.
CLIPs are formed to accomplish a purpose valued by all participants. They are driven by personal desire and professional need to share problems, experiences, insights, templates, tools and best practices. We are using the term Communities of Learning, Inquiry and Practice (CLIPs) to identify our particular approach to Communities of Practice (CoP).
Communities of Practice are not a new concept. They were human’s first social structure for transferring knowledge. We all belong to a number of them. Organizations are suddenly focused on them because they realize this age-old organizational form needs to more intentionally and systematically be used to complement existing organizational structures if we are to improve our professional know-how in a time when new knowledge/methods are growing at exponential rates, becoming more complex and specialized, and having a shorter half-life. Communities of Practice began to thrive in the 90s. They are viewed as a way to enhance the capabilities of an organization by addressing the unmet needs of the individuals within it. Communities consciously nurture and harness know-how in service of their institution’s purpose.
CLIPs are different from other organizational groups (such as departments, project teams or informal networks) in terms of their purpose and duration as shown in Table B1 below. They also differ from communities of interest, in which people tend to gather around a particular issue. CLIPs involve people jointly in developing a shared collection of resources to support work in a specific field.
|Type of Group||Purpose||Duration|
|Community of Learning and Integrated Practice||Developing members' capabilities by building and exchanging knowledge||While there is interest by the members|
|Formal Work Group/Department||Delivering a product or service||Until there is a re-organization|
|Project Team||Accomplishing a specified task||Until the end of the project|
|Informal Network||Collecting and passing on career/personal information||As long as people have reason to connect|
Other types of virtual communities also exist for various purposes, for example, task completion (virtual teams), socializing (on-line networks), and information exchange (chat rooms, bulletin boards, etc.). While all of these purposes are present in CLIPs, learning through sharing and applying knowledge to one’s practice are the main goals of the community.
The following are roles and responsibilities associated with a sponsored CLIP (in contrast with a self-organizing community).
|Participants||The Participants interact with each other, sharing information, tacit knowledge, personal insights and experiences. Participants actively participate in discussions, raising issues and concerns regarding common needs and requirements. Their primary responsibility is to contribute to the shared learning and negotiated deliverables of the community.|
|Facilitator||The Facilitator applies various group processes to help participants sustain meaningful and healthy communication—drawing out the reticent, dampening the overly dominant, ensuring that dissenting points of view are heard and understood, posing questions to further discussion and keeping discussions on topic—all subject to the will of the community.|
|Practice Leader||A Practice Leader is acknowledged by members of the CLIP as contributing exemplary competence or insight regarding the issue or concern of the moment. Practice Leaders always emerge via the community’s assent—they are not appointed. Practice Leadership shifts as the issues and concerns of the CLIP shift.|
|Champion/ Supporter||The Champion provides enthusiasm and infrastructure for organizing the meetings and communications of the CLIPs. The Champion is the chief supporter of the CLIP’s communication venues, providing necessary infrastructure, supplies, tools, and technology.|
|Sponsor||The Sponsor garners the institution’s support for a sponsored CLIP. The Sponsor is instrumental in establishing the mission and expected outcomes for the CLIP and may help remove barriers that obstruct community progress (e.g., time, funding, other resources).|
|Scribe||The Scribe writes/records in the moment the essential points of the community’s discussion and displays the notes where everyone can easily see them. The Scribe also manages the report to other groups within the allotted time, labels and stores the notes and support materials to document the CLIP’s work.|
|Time Keeper||The Time Keeper helps the group arrange time for each task; keeps participants informed of time remaining for each task; and helps the CLIP renegotiate timelines when necessary.|
|Observer||The Observer scans participants’ behaviors, noting how well the group is following its own intentions and ground rules. Immediately before the meeting or work session ends the Observer leads a debriefing discussion, helping the group continuously learn how to improve its collaborative work.|
A useful framework of seven principles has been suggested to generate “aliveness” and energy within communities. These acknowledge that while CLIPs need to be spontaneous and self-directed, guidelines can be helpful in creating the conditions for them to flourish.
|Principle 1||Design for evolution||Allow new people to become involved and new interests to be explored. Accept that there will be different activity levels and different kinds of support needed at different times.|
|Principle 2||Open a dialogue between inside and outside perspectives||Encourage a discussion between those within the community and those outside about what it could achieve. For example, encourage links with communities in other organizations.|
|Principle 3||Invite different levels of participation||Some people will be active in the community and some people will appear passive. Accept that contributions and learning take place in different ways.|
|Principle 4||Develop both public and private community spaces||Relationships form during informal community events and person-to-person communication is the purpose of the community. Formal organized events and discussion spaces are needed to help people feel part of a community. Both are important.|
|Principle 5||Focus on value||The true value of a community may emerge as it matures and develops. Community members should be encouraged to be explicit about the value being delivered. This may initially help raise awareness. Over time, value from participating should become more apparent and more concrete measures can be collected.|
|Principle 6||Combine familiarity and excitement||Familiar community spaces and activities help people to feel comfortable in participating. Introducing new ideas to challenge thinking also stimulates interest and keeps people engaged.|
|Principle 7||Create a rhythm for the community||Regular events, paced to avoid overload, create points around which activity can converge. They encourage people to keep coming back, rather than gradually drifting away.|
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