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*
- is not a working group or task force, and it’s not a staff network.
* Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner, 2015,
- Communities of practice at UCL
Our CoPs bring together groups of staff from across UCL who:
- perform similar functions
- work in common defined practice areas
- need to build similar capabilities – regardless of their line management structures
At UCL CoPs:
- contribute to an environment in which staff can achieve more fulfilling careers and which supports the delivery of high quality professional services
- aim to unite professional staff, so that they are more aligned, engaged and empowered
- provide staff with opportunities to learn from each other by sharing knowledge and expertise while working together on self-selected projects
There are three defining characteristics of any UCL community of practice:
- Professional identity: staff share a commitment to the practice area and therefore a shared competence that distinguishes them.
- Learning and development: In pursuing their interest in their practice area, staff engage in joint activities and projects, help each other, and share information. They build relationships that enable them to learn from each other.
- Shared resources: staff develop a shared repertoire of resources (experiences, stories, tools, solutions in addressing recurring problems) and a shared practice. Importantly, the expertise is drawn from across the university and all levels. contribute to an environment in which staff can achieve more fulfilling careers and which supports the delivery of high quality professional services aim to unite professional staff, so that they are more aligned, engaged and empowered provide staff with opportunities to learn from each other by sharing knowledge and expertise while working together on self-selected projects
- Current and emerging communities
Below is a list of the existing communities of practice and those that are currently being developed.
Practice area SMT sponsor Community of practice Status Communications and Marketing Collette Lux
Launched Digital Communications
Human Resources Fiona Ryland Appraisals and inductions
Planning Tom Rowson
Data and Insight
Project and Programme Management
Student Support Services
Wendy Appleby Widening Participation Preparations underway Technicians TBC Technical support
UCL's communities of practice are inclusive and open to all. We recommend that staff become a core member of one community of practice at a time. Staff may choose to become wider members of other communities of practice according to their interest.
Core members Wider members Identity You have a sense of professional identity, expertise in or a great enthusiasm for the practice area of the community. You have an interest in the practice area. You currently, or might like to work closely with some elements of the practice area in your day to day work. Learning You are willing to learn from and share with other members of the community in order to make improvements to the practice area You are willing to learn from the community and develop a network of like-minded colleagues who you can go to for advice and support. Engagement You want to proactively engage in developing the practice area and are open to supporting staff to progress or to solve a particular problem. You might want to attend lunch and learn sessions and/or contribute to a project, by participating in research or providing feedback/opinions. Activities You want to lead a project, deliver a lunch and learn session or share resources with the community. You may be interested in and are likely to benefit from, the outcomes of community projects. Leadership You could see yourself now, or in the future becoming a leader of the community.
- Further information on communities of practice
The ‘defining communities of practice’ document outlines the key components of a community of practice.
The origin and primary use of the communities of practice concept has been in learning theory. Anthropologist Jean Lave and coined the term as a learning model informed by social learning theory.
According to Wenger, CoPs must have three distinct traits to be considered a community of practice:
- Domain – An area of shared interest and competence
- Practice – A shared body of knowledge, experiences, and techniques
- Community – A group of individuals who care enough about the topic to participate in regular interactions
A CoP is different to a working group or a task force, for which members are normally grouped to achieve a pre-set goal and will be defined by the tasks they have to accomplish.
Combined with voluntary participation, a CoP is driven by the value it brings to its members and their shared interest in developing a particular area while contributing to an increased sense of professional identity.
The purpose of a CoP at UCL is to unite staff working in similar domains and functions to develop and professionalise individuals and practices.
Daniela Bultoc is the Head of Communities of Practice at UCL. Please contact her with any questions or suggestions related to existing CoPs or establishing new communities:
Phone: +44 (0)203 108 8838
Internal Phone: 58838