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Jun 13, 2023

Episode Summary: In the latest episode of the Cohere podcast, social learning theorists Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner delve into an engaging discussion with co-hosts Dr. Lauren Vargas and Bill Johnston. The guests explore the evolution of communities of practice, their forthcoming CoP Guidebook, and their unique workshops and retreats. They provide insights into their ongoing research project, a tripartite book series designed to update and expand their social learning theory. The inaugural volume, published in 2020, focuses on value creation within social learning spaces. The subsequent volumes, currently in development, will concentrate on expanding social learning across temporal and spatial dimensions and the personal journey of actively participating in the learning process.

Memorable Quote: “One thing I should say is, To be absolutely honest, I speak for myself, but who cares about communities of practice? Honestly, I don't, and I don't believe that Etienne does.

I don't care about community practice, what we care about is developing social learning capability of people, of groups, of organizations, of our planet. Otherwise, sorry guys. We've had it. So what keeps us up at night or what drives this restless energy is wow, how can we speed up the learning loops if things are moving so fast?

Everything's so unexpected. Unless we get so much better and quicker at developing learning loops into what's working and what's not working. Unless we get quicker at that, we're out mate. And so that's the driving restlessness and the communities of practice are one part of that."
Beverly Wenger-Trayner


In this episode, we discuss the following: 

  • [0:15] Introducing Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner

  • [2:30] Defining Communities of Practice (CoP)

  • [19:03] Discussing the role of AI in social learning

  • [28:23] Moving beyond CoPs

  • [36:45] Sharing information about upcoming books and events


Mentioned in this episode: 


About our guest(s): 

Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayner are internationally renowned social learning theorists and consultants. Their pioneering work in social learning is influential in such diverse fields as learning theory, business, government, international development, healthcare, and education. Their consulting practice specializes in contexts where there are large-scale social learning challenges. They founded the Social Learning Lab, where they host series of events oriented to theory, practice, and leadership. The co-edited volume Learning in landscapes of practice expands the theory beyond single communities. Systems convening sheds light on a crucial form of social-learning leadership. They are preparing a guidebook for communities of practice. They have started a book series called Learning to make a difference and recently published the first volume. It introduces the concept of social learning space as a new foundation for the theory, and their value-creation framework as a tool for both conceptualizing and cultivating social learning.