Community of practice (CoP) on Information Technology (IT)
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.
Click Here to Learn More about 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).