Community of Practice design guide

Written by Darren Cambridge and Vicki Suter for the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI), this guide provides practical steps and advice for the creation of Communities of Practice (CoPs). The authors have drawn on their experience working with corporations, nonprofits, associations, government organizations, and educational institutions to create a structure that clarifies the steps of defining, designing, launching, and growing CoP. It's application is useful in both online and face-to-face situations.


"This guide provides a practical approach to creating communities of practice (CoPs) based on experiences working with corporations, nonprofits, associations, government organizations, and educational institutions. While it is important to recognize that every organization and community is different, this guide provides a structure to help clarify the most important design elements that go into defining, designing, launching, and growing CoPs—both online and face-to-face. The first three pages of the guide are designed for those who are considering the strategic use of CoPs to facilitate collaboration, learning, or knowledge generation and want to know more. The subsequent pages of the guide are designed to help CoP designers and facilitators understand the questions, issues, and options involved in planning and cultivating communities."


  • How to Use This Community Design Guide
  • What Is a Community of Practice?
  • Why Are Communities Important?
  • How Do You Build CoPs?
  • How Do Communities Grow?
  • How Do Online Communities Become Places?
  • Purpose Is Paramount
  • Culture of Inquiry and Evidence and Community Activities
  • Emphasizing the Right Technical Features


Cambridge, D. and Suter, V. (2005). Community of Practice design guide: A step-by-step guide for designing & cultivating communities of practice in Higher Education. EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI). 

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