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UCL Communities of Practice – how far have we come?

22 August 2018

Starting as an early change initiative of UCL’s Transforming Our Professional Services programme (TOPS), our communities of practice have been in place for over a year. We now have seven established UCL communities of practice across three professional service areas and around 35 community-led projects.

“I value the opportunity to work with colleagues from across UCL, share best practice and influence institutional change”.

What is a community of practice?

Communities of Practice

A community of practice (CoP) is a group of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do, and who learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.[1]

CoPs provide staff with opportunities to learn from each other by sharing knowledge and expertise, and working together on self-selected projects. More information on UCL communities of practice

What do staff think of them?

“The most rewarding things … are the energy, commitment and passion to tackle challenges and make things happen”

We recently conducted a survey to better understand the impact our CoPs have made on their members, the practice areas and UCL overall. 

The areas where CoPs were rated as having made the most difference to individuals were:

  • sharing resources, information and experiences (76%)
  • increasing a sense of belonging and alignment to UCL (72%)
  • developing skills and gaining knowledge (70%) 
  • increasing a sense of professional identity (70%)

The survey also found that CoPs have enabled members to bring knowledge from other areas back to their departments, and influence decisions and changes at a departmental level:

  • 61% have reported that being part of a CoP has positively influenced their day-to-day work and their approach to work by enabling them to learn and implement best practice in their jobs.

At an institutional level, CoPs have encouraged members to work more collaboratively across UCL and better align themselves to departmental and institutional priorities:

  • 81% identified that their project directly aligns to UCL 2034 Key Enablers.

Overall, CoP members have noted that they feel more engaged, motivated and better aligned to UCL’s Strategy:

  • “The most rewarding things in being part of a CoP are the energy, commitment and passion to tackle challenges and make things happen”.
  • “I value the opportunity to work with colleagues from across UCL, share best practice and influence institutional change”.

2018 UCL Professional Services Awards

At UCL, our CoPs aim to build an environment in which our professional staff can achieve more fulfilling careers through the delivery of high quality professional services.

We’re therefore pleased that two CoP projects won awards in the recent 2018 UCL Professional Services Awards:

  • the Events Management CoP’s “Events Toolkit Project”- in the sharing good practice award category
  • the Digital CoP’s “Digital Signage Project” in the process review/system improvement award category

What’s next? 

Our next aim is to form communities of practice across all of UCL’s professional service areas by May 2020.

The next CoP to officially launch early in the coming academic year, is the Programme and Project Management community within Planning+, and we have more communities in the pipeline.

Interested in becoming involved?

Please contact Daniela Bultoc, Head of Communities of Practice with any questions or suggestions.

Find out which professional services have communities of practice on the TOPS communities of practice page.

[1] Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner, 2015