ZML Didaktik / Innovative Learning Scenarios

Introduction (Wenger: Communities of Practice)

Posted on: July 30, 2012

This weekend I visited Tarvisio, a nice Italian town near the Austrian border. While my father and my husband were playing Golf I was engrossed in Etienne’s book.

Institutional learning approaches (p 3)

  • individual process
  • begin & end
  • separated from the rest of activity
  • is result of teaching
  • collaboration = cheating

Etienne’s approach (p 3)

  • learning is part of our lived experience of participation in the world
  • part of our human nature
  • fundamental social phenomen

Social theory of learning (p 4)

  • we are social beings
  • knowledge is a matter of competence
  • knowledge is a matter of participation
  • meaning is ultimately what learning is to produce

=> learning as social participation means:

  • being active participants in the practice of social communities
  • constructing identities in relation to these communities

Components to characterize social participation as a process of learning and knowing (p 5)

  • MEANING – learning as experience = Verständnis – Lernen als Erfahrung
  • PRACTICE – learning as doing = Praxis – Lernen als Tun / Üben
  • COMMUNITY – learning as belonging = Gemeinschaft – Lernen als Zugehörig Sein / Rolle in der Gemeinschaft
  • IDENTITY – learning as becoming = Identität – Lernen als “jemand” in der Gemeinschaft werden

Communities of practice everywhere (p 7)

  • they are an integral part of our daily lives
  • they are informal and pervasive (überall vorhanden), they rarely come into explicit focus

Rethinking learning (p 8)

  • individuals: issue of engaging and contributing
  • communities: refining practice and enduring new members
  • organisations: sustaining the interconnected communities of practice

Modern societies see learning as a topic of concern!  – Our world is changing and is becoming more complex interconnected at an accelerating pace (p 9).  – Wenger: Our conception of learning needs urgent attention! => urgent need for reflecting and rethinking!

The practicality of theory  (p 9)

  • If learning  consists of pieces of information explicitly stored in the brain => deliver information in packages, isolated from any distraction.
  • If learning involves primarily active participation in social communities => invent ways of engaging students in meaningful practice. (p 10)


  • IF productive people are diligent implementors of organized processes => engineer and re-engineer processes
  • IF people contribute to organizational goals by participating inventively in practice => value work of community building and give resources to learn

Intellectual context (p 11)

One axe: STRUCTURE – theories of social structure (institutions, norms, rules) <=> theories of situated experience (dynamics of intention, interaction, ..) – ACTION (p 12)

Second axe: IDENTITY – theories of identity (social formation of the person) – theories of social practice (production and reproduction, how to engage with the world) – PRACTICE

In the middle of these axes: learning! (p 14)

And in these axes there are further axes (look Figure 0.3 p 14)

One axe: theories of social collectivities (mechanism of social cohesion) – theories of individual subjectivity (experience of subjectivity out of engagement in the world)

Next axe: theories of power (power is central in social theories) – theories of meaning (ways people produce meaning of their own)


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