Thursday, November 5, 2009

Communities of practice

One of the ideas that I first encountered at the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) during the first meetings that tried applying structured decision making to conservation problems from the USFWS was the notion of a "community of practice". There sort of is one based on the SDM workshops, loosely operating through a mailing list managed at the NCTC. This list is great for announcing things, and occasionally asking questions, but doesn't generate alot of traffic or two way interactive dialog.

I think this notion of a CoP for AM/SDM in conservation/environmental management is crucial if we're going to get better at what we do. I participate in a couple of other communities - the R-Help list and Both are publicly accessible, unlike the SDMCOP mailing list, although in order to add material you have to register - which means at least providing a valid email address. This provides for a mixture of public and private participation, as well as many different levels of participation - both aspects that are thought to promote successful communities of practice.

I think one of the things a CoP website/forum could do is provide a place to vent about things that don't work - although maybe that's better not done in public ... nonetheless it would be great to be able to write about successes, failures, and works in progress. There is a tremendous amount of experience out there that is growing rapidly, but it is hard to get it exposed in traditional academic outlets.

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