Communities of practice in clinical education: unlocking the potential of interactive, participatory learning

Date:  Saturday 5 September 2020
Time:  1330-1630
Location:  Staffa, Crowne Plaza

  • Douglas Sutherland, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, UK

Summary of theme and why it is important:  Within increasingly busy and pressurised clinical settings, formal learning opportunities are frequently subject to constraints and limitations related to the necessary priorities of service delivery. However, much of what is actually learned in the clinical environment is neither planned nor scripted but learned through real-life interactions between clinical professionals. Lave and Wenger’s (1991) theorisation of how learning takes place amongst such groups of colleagues with shared objectives and resources, described by them as communities of practice (CoPs), illuminates the dynamics of the relationships and processes involved. Focusing on participation rather than transmission metaphors of learning, CoP theory shows how learning occurs as new participants become increasingly immersed in the valued practices of the community. Groups exhibiting the characteristics of CoPs are ubiquitous in professional practice: this interactive workshop aims to enable delegates to unpick some of the learning processes CoPs share and relate these directly to their own workplaces. Drawing on this experience, the workshop will then highlight ways in which active, mutually beneficial involvement in CoPs may be facilitated and examine some of the hurdles that can undermine learning within them.
What participants will gain:  Delegates will be able to demonstrate an enhanced understanding of CoP theory and its potential applicability to learning within their individual workplaces. They will be able to apply principles drawn for this theory to facilitate and maximise interactive learning in face-to-face as well as virtual settings.
Who should participate:  One of the most distinguishing characteristics and, from a learning perspective, strengths of CoPs is their heterogeneity: within the community, participants may learn through interaction with colleagues at all levels of seniority and experience. The workshop will, therefore, be suitable for anyone involved in clinical education and training – from first-time trainers to experienced practitioners – who is interested in the dynamics of learning in real-life situations.
Level of workshop:

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