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Communities of Practice

Communities of Practice bring together colleagues from similar practice areas to help solve shared problems and use their collective knowledge to co-create and continuously improve their practice.

During this new wave of change to the way that we work, learn and engage with each other, UCL Communities of Practice are now more than ever fantastic platforms to connect and evolve with other UCL staff. We will be transitioning to creating collaborative, innovative and supportive spaces through online communities so to help us make connections and grow as E-Communities of Practice. 

What are Communities of Practice?

Our Communities of Practice (CoPs) bring together groups of staff from across UCL who perform similar functions, work in defined practice areas, and need to build similar capabilities – regardless of their line management structures.

Each CoP is sponsored and supported by a member of UCL’s Senior Management Team, but the focus of each CoP and the projects they work on are chosen by the community and lead by nominated CoP leaders. 

The purpose of CoPs are:

  • to contribute to an environment in which staff can achieve more fulfilling careers and which supports the delivery of high quality professional services,
  • to unite professional staff, so that they are more aligned, engaged and empowered,
  • and to provide staff with opportunities to learn from each other by sharing knowledge and expertise while working together on self-selected projects.

Our vision is for all staff to have the opportunity to join a community that is relevant to their role and career development.

Current Communities of Practice at UCL

There are currently 19 Communities of Practice (CoP) at UCL, spread across 9 service areas, with a membership of over 2,000 professional services and academic staff.

Below is a list of the existing Communities of Practice and those that are currently being developed. 

Current and emerging Communties of Practice

Practice area

SMT sponsor

Community of practice

Status

Communications and MarketingCollette Lux

Student Recruitment

Launched 

  

Internal Communications

Launched 
  Digital Communications

Launched 

  Events Management

Launched 

Human Resources Matthew BlainHR Generalists

Launched

 Matthew BlainRecruitment Established
PlanningTom Rowson

Data and Insight

Launched
 Dean Stokes

Project and Programme Management

Launched

Student and Registry Services

Wendy ApplebyWidening ParticipationLaunched 
  Student Health and Wellbeing

Launched

  Programme Administration (Teaching)Launched
Research Support (Technical staff)Prof. Ivan ParkinResearch ITEstablished
 Prof. Nigel Titchener-HookerEngineering Technical StaffEstablished
Research SupportProf. Mark Emberton, Karen Sergiou (Deputy)Pre-Award ManagementEstablished
  Post-Award ManagementEstablished
EstatesFrancesca FryerFacilities ManagementLaunched
FinancePhil HardingFinancial ManagementEstablished
  Procurement and PurchasingEstablished
Information ServicesDr James McCafferty and Dr Tom CrummeyIT Systems Management & Service DeliveryEstablished
Innovation & EnterpriseDr Celia CaulcottPartnership DevelopmentIn progress

How Communities of Practice work

Defining characteristics

There are three defining characteristics of any UCL Community of Practice:

  1. ​​​Professional identity: staff share a commitment to the practice area and therefore a shared competence that distinguishes them.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.
Membership

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 membersWider members
IdentityYou have a sense of professional identity with, 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.
LearningYou 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.
LeadershipYou could see yourself now, or in the future becoming a leader of the community. 
UCL Communities of Practice criteria guidelines

The defining Communities of Practice document outlines the key components of a Community of Practice.

Community of Practice theory

The origin and primary use of the Communities of Practice concept has been in learning theory. Anthropologist Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger coined the term as a learning model informed by social learning theory. 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.

Progress and evaluation

Evaluation surveys 

Each year we conduct a survey asking for your views and experiences of being part of a Community of Practice. We asked what you thought was working well, what could be improved and what difference they had made to you as an individual, to your practice area and to UCL overall.

Communities of Practice win National Award

UCL’s Communities of Practice have won a national award for the best organisational development and culture change initiative at the 2019 UHR (Universities Human Resources) Awards for Excellence in HR.

Photo of Daniela, Wes, Rebecca and Jodie holding the award

Get involved

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.

Email: d.bultoc@ucl.ac.uk
Phone: +44 (0)203 108 8838
Internal Phone: 58838 

Photo of Daniela Bultoc, Head of Communities of Practice