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Welcome to the e-learning lesson on Establishing a Community of Practice to Enhance Training and Technical Assistance. A community of practice, or COP, is a group of people who share a common concern, set of problems, or passion about a topic and who meet regularly to deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area. COPs are known by many other names, including: peer networks, learning circles, action teams, councils. This e-learning lesson provides guidance on how to incorporate a COP into your training and technical assistance program for the organizations you serve. At the end of this lesson, you will be able to: recall different methods for forming COPs, identify activities to help COPs define their work and structure, recognize methods for managing COPs, identify ways to help communities of practice outlive your training and technical assistance program.

Establish communities of practice to enhance your TTA.

One of the best ways to reinforce and expand the training and technical assistance (TTA) you provide to community-based organizations is to incorporate a community of practice (COP) into your TTA work. Through participation in a community of practice, people with common interests, concerns, and organizational issues will have an opportunity to continue learning with and from each other.

This, in turn, can lead to enhancements in their organizations’ knowledge base, problem-solving, and service delivery. This e-learning lesson focuses on approaches to get COPs underway, methods to help them clarify their goals and operating structure, strategies for managing COPs, and ways to help them continue on their own after your TTA program ends.

COPs offer opportunities for peer support and learning.

Incorporating a COP into your TTA practice amplifies the investment you’re already making.  As trainers and technical assistance providers already know, adult learners absorb more when new practices are introduced and reinforced through varying teaching methods and through corroboration from respected peers. 

COPs create opportunities for:

  • Peer learning to complement instructor-led training
  • Peer coaching around the implementation of a practice following technical assistance
  • Peer support that has the potential to outlive the TTA program, stretching out the investment you are making in these organizations
  • Bringing the best and most promising practices back to the organizations that you serve, for potential implementation