What are communities of practice?

Defined as “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” (Wenger-Trayner and Wenger-Trayner, 2015).

Three features which distinguish communities of practice from other communities or groups (Smith, 2009):

  • There is a shared domain of interest and a commitment to that domain on the part of the members. It is not just a network or a group of friends
  • There is a genuine community in which members help each other, engage in joint discussions and build relationships.
  • Members of the community cultivate a shared practice, through which they share resources, experiences, tools and ways of solving problems.



Smith, M. (2009) Jean Lave, Etienne Wenger and communities of practice; [Online] Available at http://infed.org/mobi/jean-lave-etienne-wenger-and-communities-of-practice/ (Accessed 21 June 2017)

Wenger-Trayner and Wenger-Trayner (2015) Introduction to Communities of Practice [Online] Available at: http://wenger-trayner.com/introduction-to-communities-of-practice/ (Accessed 21 June 2017)