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Teaching and Learning Resource Repository: Community of Practice

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Community of Practice

Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly. Note that this definition allows for, but does not assume, intentionality: learning can be the reason the community comes together or an incidental outcome of member's interactions. Three characteristics are crucial:

  • The domain: A community of practice is not merely a club of friends or a network of connections between people. It has an identity defined by a shared domain of interest. Membership therefore implies a commitment to the domain, and therefore a shared competence that distinguishes members from other people… The domain must be relevant and a priority to members.
  • The community: In pursuing their interest in their domain, members engage in joint activities and discussions, help each other, and share information. 
  • The practice: A community of practice is not merely a community of interest–people who like certain kinds of movies, for instance. Members of a community of practice are practitioners. They develop a shared repertoire of resources: experiences, stories, tools, ways of addressing recurring problems—in short a shared practice.

It is the combination of these three elements that constitutes a community of practice. And it is by developing these three elements in parallel that one cultivates such a community.


Excerpted from Wenger-Trayner, W. and Wenger-Trayner, B. (n.d.). Communities of practice: A brief introduction. Retrieved from


Martha Rivas's picture
Martha Rivas
MDC InterAmerican Campus