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MirandaNet Fellowship Casestudy

Membership List | Publications | Research | Specialist Area List | Braided Learning Ejournal

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The Miranda Net Fellowship in 2006

O brave new world: the birth of an e-community of practice

Christina Preston

Year of posting: 2006


So many people have joined recently that I thought it would be interesting to publish an updated description about the MirandaNet Fellowship which was founded in 1992. MirandaNet Fellows have been asked to speak all over the world recently because we are now acknowledged as an international example of a 'community of practice'. Wenger and Lave first used this term when their focus was harnessing learning in business (Lave 1988). They began to think about the community learning process in education in the late 1990s when the term 'community of practice' was becoming well established (Wenger 1998; Wenger, McDermott et al. 2002).

The draft paper about the Fellowship looks at Bronwyn Stuckey's study of 10 'communities of practice' spanning a range of professions. Bronwyn is now a Fellow in her own right. She found that MirandaNet had all the elements which are necessary for developing a successful community of practice, namely the ability to:

(Stuckey 2005)

I've planned two papers: 1955-1998 and 1999-2006. In the first one I've looked at the operation of 'an active and passionate core'. It is mostly about my learning journey in founding MirandaNet. I'd like comments about this history which I can weave into the text.


community practice mirandanet history


Building a dynamic knowledge base 1998- 2006

The second episode is from 1999-2006. It is about the iterative practice based learning cycle that was first introduced to us by Bridget Somekh and Niki Davis (1998). John Cuthell and I are tracing the ways in which we are learning together over time like sharing the views of other Fellows to help to enrich the service we provide to each other. For example, Rupert Wegerif, who is newly appointed as a professor at Exeter University, began a dialogue with John Cuthell and myself about the characteristics of the Fellowship that support teachers' learning last year at the World Conference for Computers in Education, in South Africa . Rupert's comments have helped to identify one of the unique features of the MirandaNet community. "The outstanding feature of MirandaNet Fellows is their critical engagement with the issues as well as the evidence of effective practice."

in this context are particularly proud of Nigel Riley and Keith Turvey who have proved this by published key papers in the latest editions of Technology, Pedagogy and Education and Computers in Education. They show that teachers can influence the thinking of education professionals by publishing in these highly respected journals. However, getting to this academic standard takes time and effort. Our members can publish their first evidence and ideas in a more teacher-friendly style in the MirandaNet Braided Learning ejournal. You will also find Nigel and Keith's early evidence for their journal papers in the MirandaNet 'Teachers as Researchers' volume, because they began this intellectual journey in a MirandaNet practice-based course.

The circular aspect of group learning where the learners become valued researchers in their own right is what many Fellows are now implementing in their classrooms. Nigel and Keith's papers are now influencing MirandaNet thinking about learning in e-communities and about the value of concept mapping as an assessment tool .

More about this next time from John Cuthell and I as we are engaged in an ethnographical investigation about how far Fellows have advanced the concept of a 'community of practice' to become a 'community of professional influence.' (The term ethnographical refers to the fact that we are members of the community and therefore acknowledge out bias. On the other hand people from outside the Fellowship will not know some of the more elusive aspects of membership).

John and I are collecting examples of the influence we have had on ICT policy locally, nationally and internationally since 1992 when Miranda Net was founded. For example, the Toshiba scholarships were the impetus for the NCET portables research into teacher ownership. Fellows also engaged in the recent DfES consultation about learning by providing evidence from classrooms. In addition, Fellows have influenced policy through practice in several countries where we have worked. We are, for example, collecting evidence of this kind of learning cycle from our Interactive Whiteboard project in Mexico where real efforts are being made to transform teaching and learning.

John and I would like to hear any anecdotes you have about MirandaNet practice in action that we can publish this in a paper about modes of social learning in the MirandaNet Fellowship. We will start a discussion about this on mirandalink next week.


Lave, J. (1988). Cognition in Practice. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Somekh, B. and N. Davis (1998). Using Information Technology Effectively in Teaching and Learning. London, Routledge.

Stuckey, B. (2005). Growing an on-line community of practice: Community development to support in-service teachers in their adoption of innovation. Doctoral Thesis (in Press). Research Centre for Interactive Learning Environments, University of Wollongong, Australia.

Wenger, E., R. McDermott, et al. (2002). Cultivating Communities of Practice: A Guide to Managing Knowledge. Boston, Harvard Business School Press.

Wenger, R. (1998). Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning and Identity. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.


I should be very grateful if members would comment on the draft article, either on this page using the Peer Review and Comment facilities, or if you aren't a part of this eJournal, on the Forum (click the forum link in the rose at the top left).

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