Community of practice (CoP) on Information Technology (IT)
Registration closes at 9:59 PM (ET) on Friday, November 29th.
It seems that nothing promotes efficient, deep, and direct learning than a personal mentor. Why not tap into a network full of them? A ‘community of practice’ brings together individuals with a shared interest through a structure that encourages deep listening and results in a very direct exchange of knowledge.
These communities of practice are sponsored by Indiana Campus Compact and led by your peers from across the United States with support for our expert staff.
Would you like to join your peers and colleagues in a community to share ideas, access the latest best practices, find solutions, meet new people, and collaborate on innovative and exciting projects?
By joining one of our new communities of practice (CoP) on Information Technology (IT) and the Community Engaged Professional (CEP), you can help to shape best practices and share ideas to support yourself and peers. These communities will be open to everyone working in the domains of community engagement and higher education, but the sponsor will cap each group’s number of participants to twelve (12) in order to keep the groups manageable and engaged. Please review the information below about these groups, then plan to come back on, or shortly after, October 10th to find details about registering for these communities (registration will close once we have reached our capacity of 36 individuals).
“Community” the Key Concept
A group becomes a community when many individual members have sufficient experiences to develop trusted relationships and easy communications. Relationships and common topics may be the impetus to create community—something greater than the individual(s) themselves—but it is the continued conversations and sharing of experiences that keep the conversations and knowledge production going. Below are some of the dynamics or practices that typically help build community.
Dynamics of a Community
- A domain- specific knowledge of a particular topic.
- A population – sharing of individual expertise and networks in a group.
- A practice- frameworks, ideas, tools, information, styles, stories, and/or documents.
The domain of our community: best practices in collecting and utilizing data to inform our practices, jobs, campuses and communities.
The population of our community: community engagement professionals
The practice: initiating and sustaining information technology platforms to track and monitory community-campus partnerships, activities, initiatives, etc.
Read on below for more details about these topics.
Given the range of experiences in the above areas we are excited to offer different groups. Below is a brief outline of the types of communities individuals will be placed into- after completing a brief self-assessment during the registration process.
A group of people who share a concern or passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.
Community A: Beginner’s level group. This community will consist of C.E.P.s that have some prior experience with collecting data (typically done through a basic survey or excel file, not a robust, relational platform) on campus-community engagement, but only at the center- or program-level. Individuals in this group are still developing their knowledge of which I.T. platforms are out there for tracking campus-community engagement and the necessary steps and resources (time, money, political capital, etc.) to implement that platform at the campus-level.
Community B: Competent-level group. C.E.P.s in this group have been overseeing a robust (possibly relational) information technology platform for greater than or equal to two years. Individuals in this group are confident that they have selected the most appropriate IT platform to track campus-community engagement (whether a vended product or ‘home-grown’), which is used at the broadest level possible for their campus. These individuals will still wish to learn how other practitioners/peers continuously on-board and sustain engagement with their IT platform, but will be more interested in how to use that data to ask research questions, use the data, and inform or better practices with community.
COMMUNITY C: (created only if registration approaches 36). The makeup of this community will be determined once registration has reached its max at 36 people (12 people/community). Since it is unknown, at this time, the range of capacities, previous experiences, and knowledge or skill-level of those interested in building a community around the above dynamics– collecting data, informing practices, tracking and monitoring, plus community-campus engagement—the make-up of this group will be determined after registration closes. It could be some ‘level’ between beginning and competent, or another group of beginners or another group of competent practitioners- we will know more when registration closes (see timeline below). NOTE: In the event that registration numbers do not approach 36, we will not be hosting/offering this third community.
Registration closes at 9:59 PM (ET) on Friday, November 29th.
Meet our Community of Practice Co-Chairs
- Sherri Skarwitz, Tufts University (MA)
- Heather Dalton-Miklozek, Indiana State University (IN)
- Paul Valdez, Bowling Green State University (OH)
- Sarah Beth Dempsey, St. Mary’s College of California (CA)
- Christine Buckner, Illinois State University (IL)
- Ellen Szarletta, Indiana University- Northwest (IN)
What. Today, many organizations but especially higher education, rely on information technology (IT) as a critical component in performing organizational objectives and advancing their mission or vision statements and strategic plan(s). When utilizing IT one must be concerned with issues related to supporting technology users and meeting their needs within an organizational and societal context. This involves but is not limited to the selection, creation, application, integration, and administration of information technologies. Further, a CEP must develop practices and knowledge surrounding the following IT domains: information and data management, networking, security, data storage, application development and programming, continuous onboarding and support of users—i.e., system administration and support—human-computer interaction (HCI), and much more. There is not much support for learning about or understanding best practices in those areas outside of formal, higher education programs of study—something our CEPs have limited resources (time, money, energy, etc.) to devote to outside of our already busy lives and the increasing expectations from decision-makers at our campuses.
Furthermore, very often the tasks associated with IT and the goals or purposes of it are in tension with the values and/or ethics of community or democratic engagement. These tensions and the values or ethics of community or democratic engagement have been noted by practitioner-scholars, in such artifacts as, Democratically Engaged Assessment or Community Engagement Professionals as Inquiring Practitioners for Organizational Learning. However, these tensions do need to be discussed and named in much more intentional and ongoing manner among the boots-on-the-ground practitioners of community engagement in higher education; these issues need to be discussed not just in peer-reviewed journal articles because they are much more dynamic and contemporaneous given the changing expectations surrounding CEPs.
So What. Under the leadership and guidance of Anne Weiss, Director of Strategic Measurement and Impact, Indiana Campus Compact recognizes the increasing responsibilities of our campus constituents to robustly track and monitor community-campus engagement. While very often this is not an explicit part of being a community engagement professional (CEP), during the tenure of being a CEP one quickly recognizes the need to know who is doing what, with whom (be it people, organizations, or other entities) for how long, with what resources, to what satisfaction, and what outputs, outcomes, or impact. Many CEPs do not, however, have a mastery of the specific knowledge that comes with utilizing information technology to gather data on the above points (i.e., data to answer questions about who, what, where, why, how, when, or the inputs, outputs, outcomes, impact, etc. of community-campus partnerships).
Now what. Join the conversation! Add to and share your own experiences by become a member of a community of practice focused on IT & the CEP. The benefits of participating in a community of practice, broadly, are as follows:
- CoPs create a direct link between learning and performance because members of the community of practice are actively participating in the community and have the capacity to put what they are learning immediately into practice.
- Because of the diversity of the participants, CoPs often come up with solutions to problems in their communities more readily than individuals working alone who are tasked with solving the same problem.
- Participants can collect data or compile knowledge together, which can augment the current disconnected information base surrounding IT & the CEP.
- Participants fill knowledge gaps in each others’ practices.
- Participation in a CoP often forms the foundation for a longer-lived network of individuals who share common interest/concerns and could continue coming together to tackle new problems long after this formalized CoP’s work is over.
Timeline of this experience.
- October 10, 2019: Registration opens.
- 11:59 PM (ET) on Friday, November 29, 2019: By this date or before (once we reach 36 registrants) registration will close.
- January 2020- first meeting of CoP
- February, March, April & May 2020: ongoing meetings of CoPs facilitated by co-chairs (see here) and supported by H. Anne Weiss, Director of Strategic Measurement & Impact.
- During this time participants will be expected to create and turn in a learning contract to their co-chairs.
- June 2020: Closing out of the CoPs and turning in final learning artifact(s)- more information to come on the latter.
There are no fees to participate in this experience.