CoP Assignment

Posted by Debby on 22nd November and posted in EDC 633, EDC 638A

I am going to examine the distance education instructors at Porterville College. I am choosing this loosely organized community because at the present time there is not much cohesion or collaboration amongst the members. This is something I would like to change throughout the course of this year, so I felt it would be useful to examine circumstances as they now exist.

“Communities of Practice arise as people address recurring sets of problems together. It develops around things that matter to people. As a result, their practices reflect the members’ own understanding of what is important to deal with the constant flow of information they need to process” (Wenger, 1998)

Like most other California Community Colleges, we are under a severe budget crisis. Our administration is exceptionally supportive of distance education efforts with everything except funding. The looming deficit means that no program or employee is guaranteed funding and divisions find themselves competing for limited dollars more often than working together to find solutions. Most faculty are actively involved in our system of shared governance. That means many serve on one or more committees assignments, serve in division leadership roles, participate in formulating educational policy, work toward establishing curriculum standards, and give input into budgetary and hiring issues. This active and mandated involvement in campus politics often leaves little time for developing personal connections and sharing teaching strategies and best practices. It is definitely a high-stress environment at the current time.

The goal of this group is to delivered mediated instruction via the Internet, although their reasons for doing so vary. Some members strongly feel that the reason for developing and delivering online courses is to increase access to education. Other members feel that distance education is here to stay and they want to take part in the process to stay current with trends. They aren’t completely convinced that online delivery is the best way to go, but they don’t want to be left behind. Finally, a very small group seems to feel that teaching online will be an easier alternative to participating in on-campus courses and responsibilities. There is a lot of interest among the majority of members in developing a better community of practice, especially to keep up with ever-changing technology and best teaching practices, but even finding a time for most people to meet is almost impossible.

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