The spirit of community (of practice)


by Isabelle Grégoire, president and founder of Classo

My meetings and conversations with teachers, school counselors, principals and school administrators led me to the following observation: there are a lot of interesting initiatives put forward by educators innovators and committed leaders everywhere in our schools. Full of tools, guides, tutorials, activities that are created and imagined. A lot of time spent doing intelligence, research, testing and experimentation. All this work deserves so much to be more widely shared!

Early on, it became clear that a platform like Classo offered the potential to become a forum for sharing, sharing and sharing best practices. Several ideas have been raised from the earliest stages of development by team members, excited by the prospect of a Classo Community, a Quora educational resources!

This need was confirmed by the teachers in the comments we received as a result of our pilot projects. As a result, we quickly developed a feature to allow Classo users to post suggestions for pedagogical uses of a digital resource. This feature is already available.

Classo's potential as a community of practice has also been investigated by a Master's student in Education Technology at Concordia University: Growing Class With Kwnoledge Management Approach (Building Classo on a Knowledge Management Approach).

Since research remains one of the pillars on which the vision behind Classo is built, with the needs of the education community and technological innovation, I share an excerpt from his work. It positions Classo as a community of practice and sums up perfectly the approach we are considering to develop this aspect of the platform.


Search for Sal Costanzo
Graduate of the Master's Program in Educational Technology, Concordia University

I met Isabelle Grégoire in October 2018, during an event on education organized by LEARN Québec. We had just attended short presentations by teachers about their favorite digital resources. I then mentioned to Isabelle that as a teacher, all these applications looked very interesting, but there are too many! How to choose what will suit me? She told me that she was working on developing a platform to solve this specific problem. What a coincidence!

She introduced me to Classo as "a platform where teachers and education professionals can easily find quality digital teaching resources that meet their needs, taking into account all elements of the teaching context. Users define their profile by specifying a number of parameters (levels, materials, devices, platforms ...), then the search engine of the platform offers them resources that meet these criteria. By clicking on a resource, you can view its description and links to additional information, helping teachers make an informed decision in no time.

As a teacher, I immediately understood the interest, but something was missing ... Most of the digital resources I used in class were referred to me by a trusted colleague who could attest to his efficiency. When I consult Classo, I can easily find new resources, but how can I find tips and suggestions for using them effectively? Isabelle and her team had already identified this issue. It remained to put in place a way to recreate this experience and to be able to find recommendations and suggestions from peers.

A few months after my meeting with Isabelle, I started a postgraduate course in Knowledge Management. As I delved into literature, I was struck by its breadth, which seemed to affect all aspects of 2015st century life. Described by Girard & Girard (XNUMX) as “the process of creating, sharing, using and managing knowledge and information in organizations”. As I discovered the many problems this discipline examines and their solutions, I was surprised at how precise some of the approaches were. In addition, I was impressed by the fact that, although problems related to the management and dissemination of knowledge persist, the contribution of digital technology and its capabilities have made it possible to resolve several complex issues.

Eventually, I discovered research on the importance of creating communities of practice “to help create an environment in which knowledge can be created and shared…” (Probst & Borzillo, 2008, p. 336) and on the role that confidence building plays in this process. The link with Classo and the need to create, on the platform, a community in which teachers looking for new resources could also consider offering advice and sharing good practices on the resources they use was obvious.


Classo as a knowledge sharing organization

My first readings on Knowledge Management, Knowledge Sharing and Communities of Practice (CoPs) led me to describe Classo as a "Knowledge Sharing Company". From my point of view, Classo dedicates itself to the collection of knowledge for the benefit of its community of users, but also offers a platform on which the community can generate its own knowledge, which is then shared with all. Ultimately, the goal of a KSC is to provide access to "transferable knowledge in formal and systematic language", as well as tacit knowledge "that has a personal quality, which makes it more difficult to formalize and communication (Nonaka, 1994). , page 16), while helping to share best practices and improve the overall practice of the community. Yet, when I started deepening the literature, I realized that most of the research was focused on sharing knowledge within an organization or within an organization, not the idea of company dedicated to sharing knowledge with a community.

Knowledge management

According to Cheng (2015, 71), "Knowledge management is a management strategy that uses information and knowledge to improve the performance, management, and operations of the enterprise. Classo is an organization that aims to collect and manage information about digital educational resources to provide teachers with quality tools that meet their needs. Currently, the search for new digital resources is most often done by word of mouth. The Classo management system therefore offers a more structured strategy for teachers.

Knowledge sharing

Hung describes knowledge sharing as "the notion of knowledge exchange between people belonging to a community or an organization (as cited in Hafeez, Foroudi, Nguyen and Gupta, 2019, 406)". Classo wants to go beyond the simple knowledge management system or database, to provide a place where teachers can really exchange knowledge and best practices.

Communities of practice

Like many definitions and discussions around knowledge management and knowledge sharing, communities of practice as "social tools for connecting, engaging and sharing knowledge within organizations (Jagasia, Baul and Mallik, 2015, 1). ), often rely on the use and creation of these systems within organizations. Since Classo, as a knowledge-sharing organization, creates a bridge between teachers and resource publishers, we can consider a Cross-Organizational Community of Practice (COCoP) model or community of practice.


Most of the literature on CoPs tends to focus on intra-organizational development for practical reasons. This research is often intended to support the growth and progress of companies as entities in highly competitive markets. This context requires competitive advantages to be developed within companies and not shared. Yet, in many cases, knowledge sharing, even within a competitive sector, is beneficial. Walter Powell (1998) described, more than 20 years ago, the awareness in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries of the need for "inter-organizational links" so that "organizations combine their existing skills with the capabilities of others ". In research-based sectors and complex approaches, the need to share knowledge becomes greater.

Outside of traditional competitive industries, such as education, COCoPs are even more viable and necessary. In recent years and with the advent of digital technology, teachers have had to constantly redefine their work and teaching approaches. In terms of content, the age of textbooks as a single source is over. Access to databases filled with hundreds of scholarly journals, news of world news in real time and continuously, a growing number of creators of open source content - although it takes always better to ensure its validity - is now the norm. In terms of teaching itself, reading aloud from a book and projecting a slide show on a screen is now considered detrimental to student learning. We now advocate constructive experiences of creation and collaboration on a tablet. A teacher who wants to follow this new and evolving paradigm will need help.

According to Smith-Risser (2013), "With the advent of the Internet, many teachers have turned to social media to expand the reach of their professional learning networks and embrace the social networking model. this end. This movement has been increasingly documented in recent years with the work of Coleman, Rice and Wright (2018) documenting the spontaneous interest of teachers for Twitter, the exploration of teachers of Biology of Ontario by Kajiura et al (2014), and many others, described in more detail in the Saifuddin and Strange (2016) literature review on online CoPs involving teachers. They are increasingly present online to share their knowledge and best practices in order to keep pace with the digital transformation. Classo can then provide a platform for these very committed teachers who gain knowledge and connect with their peers to share their knowledge about digital resources.


Building the Classo Community

Building the community of Classo will certainly take some time, as for all strong communities. By creating an environment that takes user needs into account, offering the opportunity to connect and learn from peers, and building on credibility and trust, Classo will stand out as a community of practice for middle of education. Isabelle and I had the chance to watch teachers passionately present their favorite applications in the middle of Saturday, for hours most likely unpaid. Teachers want and need everything Classo can offer. We must now invite them and give them the desire to share.

To discover how we plan to do this, continue reading our blog, follow us on social media and subscribe to our newsletter.

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