Disruptive Technologies

Course site for Disruptive Technologies. Exploring identity, community, & design.

Wegner’s Community of Practice – Katherine

Wegner defines a Community of Practice (COP) as a group of people who share a similar passion or interest for something and interact on a regular basis in order to learn how to perform their skill better. There are 3 different dimensions to a Community of Practice which include:

  1. mutual engagement
  2. a joint enterprise
  3. a shared repertoire

Mutual engagement is the amount and pattern of which the members of the community interact with each other. Membership within a community of practice doesn’t only rely on allegiance to a club or organization or being born into a specific social category but on the interaction between members. While geographic proximity between members is not necessarily, it is helpful to interaction between members. Three key aspects:

  1. enabling elements
  2. diversity
  3. multiplexity – joined by a variety of ties, including conflict

A joint enterprise refers to the common purpose that binds the people together and provides a unifying goal and coherence for their actions. Three key aspects:

  • negotiated goals
  • Indigenous purpose
  • mutual accountability

Shared repertoire refers to the continual development and maintenance of a shared repertoire of procedures, techniques, shortcuts, jargon, tools, forms, symbols, mental categories, actions, concepts, etc. Three key aspects:

  • shared history
  • richness
  • ambiguity

“The repertoire of a community of practice includes routines, words,
tools, ways of doing things, stories, gestures, symbols, genres,9 actions,
or concepts that the community has produced or adopted in the course
of its existence, and which have become part of its practice.”

I had a bit of difficulty with this reading but complemented it with some examples and summaries found online. One of my biggest takeaways from the reading was that a community of practice differs from just a community based on a few different key aspects but mostly the interaction between members. At first I had trouble understanding how Wenger was using the term “practice” until I read some other sources online.

Based on a chart I found on google images, I made a comparison between Communities of Practice and other types of work environments/groups.



  1.  Is our classroom considered a Community of Practice?
  2. Could a community meeting on a Google Doc or Google Hangout be considered a Community of Practice?
  3. What elements of a Community of Practice does our CDT 450 class have? Which elements does it not?
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1 Comment

  1. Jay.Loomis@stonybrook.edu

    February 11, 2015 at 2:49 am

    Great summary and outline… helps me get a good overview – thanks!

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