Research on Online Communities of Practice
The design, facilitation, and evaluation of online communities of practice has been a longstanding professional interest. Most recently, as director of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology's Connected Educators project, Darren Cambridge led research on how participation in online communities creates value for educators. Our colleagues from the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at North Carolina State University and our team used interviews, content analysis, and social network analysis to examine both established and emerging communities, yielding a set of promising practices for sponsors, designers, and facilitators. With colleagues at the American Institutes for Research and the National Science Teachers Association, we also explored the application of a learning analytics approach to using data from online environments to support social learning leadership, the results of which were reported in papers published in 2012 and 2013.
Begun in the late 1990s, Darren Cambridge's first work on online communities of practice to support educational change was through building an online collaboration system in support of the Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Campus Program. The system he designed featured the first application of collaborative filtering in higher education. His colleagues from the EDUCAUSE National Learning Infrastructure Initiative and he subsequently developed a guide to designing online communities of practice for higher education.