What is a Learning Network?

Maybe you’re wondering, “How is a community of practice different from a learning network?”

First, it’s important to note that communities of practice (CoP) are indeed networks in the sense that they involve connections among members. However, not all learning networks are communities of practice. This is because CoP’s don’t traditionally cross professions, they are made up of groups of people who share a craft, interest and/or a profession. Examples can be found in all these eXtension CoP’s.

In their article, “Using Emergence to Take Social Innovations to Scale,” authors Debbie Frieze and Meg Wheatley explain how CoP’s can actually evolve from networks. When networks form like ours, they help like-minded people connect and learn. The primary difference is this: Networks are based on self-interest. People join networks for their own benefit and to develop their own work. Within networks, people move in and out depending on how they benefit from their participation.

The Educational Technology Learning Network provides Extension professionals with a platform to learn from, teach, and support each other while integrating technology into their work. This network is utilizing a unique combination of blogging, social media, Twitter chats, videos, and in-person meetups to engage members, in and out of Extension, across the country.

Join us: extedtechs.org/join

2 Replies to “What is a Learning Network?”

  1. That’s a bit of a stretch. There’s nothing in the traditional definition of a Community of Practice that implies professional silos:

    _Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly._

    Groups of people== networks.

    Coming together to learn is a good thing. What you call that network is pretty much irrelevant.


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