Dr Cory Laverty and Dr Nasser Salem from Queens university Ontario presented about developing a community of practice based on networking and working collaboratively with colleagues from across the university. Cory is interested in approaches to inquiry based learning and the role librarians can play in supporting this and initiatives to decolonise the curriculum from a perspective of academic development. They were asked to establish a working group for developing IL teaching, which was motivated by the adoption of a quality assurance framework. Librarians were expected to adopt this framework, but were unsure about how to measure learning from their IL teaching. This then led to identification that librarians needed to understand pedagogical theory, assessment as learning and learning design. Monthly meetings for a small working group took place over 4 years, and they developed learning materials for librarians, and workshops and development sessions to build teaching competencies.
It’s very important that members of a community of practice feel comfortable with each other, so sessions were focused on being fun and engaging, and inclusive. Development sessions lasted 3 hours, and were centred on the learning needs of the group. People can feel vulnerable when sharing their practice, and it’s important to respect each other.
Various evaluation data were collected over the 4 years as participants were asked about the value of the community. People liked that meetings were regular and facilitated, they liked that other professional groups were involved e.g. instructional designers. Resources were shared in an online repository. The group facilitated community building, and helped develop an identity, and there was authentic learning gained through sharing practice. A reflective approach in every session helped promote personal growth.
The working group became a community of practice over the years, it developed organically, through a shared domain (IL teaching). Individuals benefit from sharing expertise, and it provides a fertile environment for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning - the presenters have a chapter forthcoming in the ACRL book The Grounded Instruction Librarian: Participating in The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (Sheila and I have a chapter in the same book!)