Bi-level Community of Practice
Virtual Communities of Practice (CoP) can be defined as “a network of individuals who share a domain of interest about which they communicate online” (Gannon-Leary & Fontana, 2007, p. 2). Establishing connections with others, offering to help, and receiving help are important to CoPs (Bishop, Hertko, & Jason, 1997) and build a network of support for professionals in many disciplines. Lee (2018) describes how context-specific learning can occur in multiple layers using the CoP model. In the Lee model, students communicate with one another inside their course, i.e., their Internal CoP, and then with community members they select for their External CoP. This bi-layer model fits the CISATR project well because all students learn together as part of their university-based experience (Internal CoP) as well as with staff at the community partner sites (External CoP).
Both CoPs occur online in the CISATR project, so that they are Virtual Communities of Practice (VCoP). Within the Internal VCoP students are able to share experiences, learning, and problem-solving activities with all other students in the project. The Internal VCoP is offered to students via Canvas and is a closed community. It is facilitated by Rutgers faculty to provide consultation, contribute to discussion, and ensure adherence to program and professional ethical guidelines. The cross-pollination of learning allowed by the Internal VCoP gives students the advantage of learning from interprofessional practice in a variety of settings while allowing them to practice interprofessional communication in a supported setting.
The External VCoP, is available to students, faculty, site supervisors, and other staff from community partners in order to develop and strengthen the interprofessional relationships among community providers. Join the conversation today!