communities of pratice

Communities of Practice – Facilitating Social Learning in Higher Education

Call for Book Chapters

Title of Book: Communities of Practice – Facilitating Social Learning in Higher Education

Editors: Assoc Prof Jacquelin McDonald & Prof Aileen Cater-Steel, University of Southern Queensland, Australia.


The book will be published by Springer in the Higher Education Dynamics Series.


Many people are familiar with the concept of Communities of Practice (CoPs) however, investigation reveals they are not well established in most institutes of higher education. This book seeks to increase the implementation of higher education CoPs by presenting a range of international accounts of CoPs. The book contents will show how practitioners initiated CoPs to create connections and share practice within common fields of interest, such as first year course leadership, research supervision, internationalisation, student, cultural and equity issues.

Research demonstrates that CoPs build professional and personal links both within, and across faculty, student services, administrative and support units. CoP members may be physically co-located or how social media is used to connect members across geographically diverse locations.

The implementation of a CoP approach, based on theory and examples of proven practice to the higher education context, is embraced by dreamers, who seek to realise the potential of CoPs to connect colleagues in powerful learning communities. Dreamers strive to build CoPs within a professional context that is often isolated, and even competitive.  However, as well as the dreamers, pragmatic schemers are needed to overcome challenges around creating and sustaining CoPs within established disciplines and hierarchical management structures.

This work positions higher education CoPs within the broader CoP and social learning literature, articulates the importance of CoP leadership roles, and the growing focus on the use of social media for CoP implementation.

International authors implement the core CoP approach of sharing practice as they share their reflections on their experience of taking a CoP vision from dream to reality. Their stories articulate the dream, the passion, and the challenges of working within and/or changing existing institutional culture and practice. Readers will find strategies that worked and reflections on lessons learnt that will inform future dreamers and schemers as they seek to establish their own communities. These multiple perspectives provided in the case studies will assist higher education leaders, as well as academic and professional staff, to establish, or reflect on existing, CoPs, by sharing insights and critical reflection on their implementation strategies, practical guidelines and ideas on how CoP theoretical underpinnings can be tailored to the higher education context.

Overall Objectives of the book:

To provide informative case studies, with critical reflection on practice, articulating the application of Communities of Practice (CoP) theory to the international higher education context;

·         Address the emerging field of social learning leadership within CoPs and digital communities;

·         Include practical guidance on establishing and sustaining higher education CoPs, as well as detailed case studies by experienced and successful CoP facilitators;

·         Provide a rigorous theoretical framework to inform readers about implementation and sustainability of CoPs in higher education;

·         Address the Higher Education gap in the CoP literature, including the increasing emphasis on social learning and the unique leadership role of CoP facilitators.

Possible topics are (but are not limited to):

·         Communities of Practice theoretical underpinnings, theory, application and evidence of impact in the higher education context

·         Leadership of CoPs in higher education

·         Profiles of Higher Education Communities of Practice: Case studies and engaging stories from the coalface include practical examples of implementation processes and critical reflection to inform readers:

  • Academic CoPs; Professional staff CoPs; Blended CoPs – academic and professional staff; Student CoPs; Faculty learning communities (USA approach)

o   Across discipline; Academic/research student/industry practitioners/government collaborative CoPs

Target audience

The target audience includes Higher Education staff, including leaders, management, academic and professional staff, researchers, Human Resources and policy makers.

Submission Deadlines

Researchers and practitioners are invited to submit on or before October 15, 2014, a 1-2 page manuscript proposal clearly explaining the focus of the proposed chapter, chapter title and author/s’ contact information. Authors of accepted proposals will be notified by December 24, 2014 about the status of their proposals and sent chapter guidelines. Full chapters are expected to be submitted by March 1, 2015. All submitted chapters will be reviewed on a double-blind review basis. Final chapters are due by June 2015. The book is scheduled to be published in 2016 by Springer in the Higher Education Dynamics series.

For enquiries and submissions, please email Jacquelin McDonald ( or Aileen Cater-Steel (