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The Student Learning Commons as a Community of Practice

Students as a Community of Practice
Published July 17, 2018 by Julia Lane

Hello there and welcome to this new SLC blog space!

My name is Julia Lane and I work as a Writing Services Associate at the Student Learning Commons (SLC). I am writing to you today to encourage you to think of the Student Learning Commons as a Community of Practice that can support you with writing, language, and learning strategies and help you accomplish academic success, whatever that looks like for you.

So, what is a Community of Practice and why would I want you to think of the SLC as one? Good questions!

The answer starts with a light look at the nature of our existence: Human beings are social animals, so we often find ourselves belonging to many different kinds of groups, clubs, and communities. The concept of a community of practice comes from the work of a cognitive anthropologist, Jean Lave, and an educational theorist, Etienne Wenger. It was first introduced in their book Situated Learning (1991).

According to The International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences (2nd edition), a community of practice is defined by the presence of all of the following:

  1. An area of knowledge or activity that establishes a shared identity;
  2. A community made up of individuals who care about the area, knowledge, or activity defined in point 1;
  3. The practices that community members develop and share to support themselves and each other to be successful in the area, knowledge, or activity defined in point 1.

As students at SFU, you all study different subjects, with different areas of focus and different end goals. However, the writing, language, and learning skills that you require to approach these different areas of study form an area of knowledge that contributes to an identity that you share as a community of students.

The Student Learning Commons exists to support you in developing the practices that lead to academic success. So, as a community of students, you can make use of the Student Learning Commons as a Community of Practice -- one that not only provides you with writing, language, and learning support services, but also brings you together as an interdisciplinary community of students, studying different subjects but sharing common concerns, challenges, experiences, and opportunities.

It is our hope that this blog space will continually evolve, as we learn more about what students want to see here and how they are engaging as a community. This is an open invitation to make this community work for you. 

I look forward to seeing you in person at the SLC and here in the blogosphere. 

- Julia Lane

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