Communities of Practice

Community of Practice

Communities of Practice (CoPs) are groups who share similar interests, concerns, problems, or passion around a topic. Together, they expand and exchange knowledge by interacting on an ongoing basis and building a repository of knowledge for current and future members.

At USF, we have several CoPs that span different departments/colleges while sharing similar interests.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are CoPs online or in-person?

Space may be online, in-person or hybrid. Because formats may differ, make sure that you can commit to the specific expecations of a CoP. For example, one CoP may be entirely online with  resource libraries and online discussion boards. Another CoP may rely on frequent in-person meetups.

What are examples of CoPs?

Often formed around professions or roles within an industry or organization, a CoP may be large with hundreds or people or small with 10-20 members. Stack Overflow is an online example of a large CoP dedicated to computer programming. They have thousands of fully online members who ask questions via discussion boards, access the library of resources, and offer new solutions to keep building that library.

 For a small example, consider a school with a CoP for teachers to share ideas around a specific subject such as integrating digital literacy across different classes.

In either case, members are passionate about the topic and want to learn, offer their own input and help build a resources of knowledge for the future (libraries, logs, websites, etc.). There will be various view points and a mix of people with differing experiences and knowledge to share and absorb.

How can a CoP benefit me or my employee?

Consider that a popular learning and development strategy is the 70:20:10 Model for Learning and Development, in which 90% of our learning comes from informal activity such as interacting with other people and performing real-world assignments. Importantly, CoPs blend real-time learning with doing so that knowledge and application are not separate.
According to the 70:20:10 Model for Learning and Development, people learn by the following:
  • Taking on real-world, challenging assignments may represent 70%of learning.
  • Learning from others via shadowing or coaching may represent 20% of learning.
  • Formal coursework and training may represent 10% of learning.

Where can I learn more about the design and implementation of CoPs?

For information about the definition, purpose and tips in creating successful CoPs, click here:

More in-depth information can be found in the book A Guide to Managing Knowledge: Cultivating Communities of Practice by Wenger, McDermott, Snyder, 2002.

Name of CoP Owner Who Can Participate Contact for More Information
Talent Management Central Human Resources HR Partners and Mid-Level Managers
The purpose is to cultivate a Community of Practice (CoP) for mid-level managers that will connect managers throughout the university, generate and implement innovative ideas, and diagnose recurring problems whose root causes cross departmental boundaries.

If you have a CoP that you would like to include on list, please email your information to us at