Analysis of a Community of Practice Dialog: The Learning of Concepts Situated in a System Development Audit
A persistent question associated with theories of situated learning is how to put them into action. The concept of situated learning, in which the learner and the task are placed in the context of the overall social practice, stems from Lave (1988) and Lave et al.'s (1988) recognition that a traditional view of learning as the end result of a process of transmitting knowledge is inadequate. Instead, they propose looking at learning from the learner's perspective and viewing learning as a continuous process in which what is learned depends on what has been learned before and the context in which the learner is immersed, a process known as legitimate peripheral participation (Lave and Wenger 1991). This paper explains how a situated learning experience was operationalized in a context in which the learners' task was to develop a plan for auditing the development of a dysfunctional information system. It identifies and analyzes the situated learning from the viewpoint of dimensions of educational design associated with communities of practice (Wenger 1998). Here, the community of practice consisted of masters students assuming the auditor's role. In a community of practice, members of the group learn from each other by working together as they develop a common sense of purpose, including a common way of thinking about how work gets done and what is necessary to accomplish a task. The analysis is based on the text of synchronous class discussion from a web class session. Also discussed are implications of communities of practice implemented through synchronous discussion for educational design and professional practice.
Words: Auditing information systems development; Collective intelligence;
Community of practice; Course design; Information systems assurance; Legitimate
peripheral participation; Situated learning