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A Community of Practice, or CoP for short, is a thriving group of professionals who work together to improve their craft. George Pór of Community Intelligence Labs says, "More than a 'community of learners,' a community of practice is also a "community that learns." Not merely peers exchanging ideas around the water cooler, sharing and benefiting from each other's expertise, but colleagues committed to jointly develop better practices."

Originally developed by Etienne Wenger, the CoP mirrors the concept of the artisan's guilds of the middle ages. Wenger (1998) states: "Communities of practice develop around things that matter to people. As a result, their practices reflect the members' own understanding of what is important. Obviously, outside constraints or directives can influence this understanding, but even then, members develop practices that are their own response to these external influences. Even when a community's actions conform to an external mandate, it is the community not the mandate that produces the practice."

In creating the Surfaquarium CoP, Walter has strived to put in place the needed structures to ensure participant success. As stated by Wenger (1998):

"Certainly, in order to legitimize the community as a place for sharing and creating knowledge, recognized experts need to be involved in some way, even if they don't do much of the work. But internal leadership is more diverse and distributed. It can take many forms:

The inspirational leadership provided by thought leaders and recognized experts

The day-to-day leadership provided by those who organize activities

The classificatory leadership provided by those who collect and organize information in order to document practices

The interpersonal leadership provided by those who weave the community's social fabric

The boundary leadership provided by those who connect the community to other communities

The institutional leadership provided by those who maintain links with other organizational constituencies, in particular the official hierarchy

The cutting-edge leadership provided by those who shepherd "out-of-the-box" initiatives.

By joining the Surfaquarium Digital CoP, you benefit from the structure and leadership Walter provides, while contributing to and learning from the collective experience and expertise of our group. The Digital CoP can make a difference in your professional growth