From Dream to Reality: Sustaining a Higher Education Community of Practice Beyond Initial Enthusiasm

Coralie McCormack, Robert Kennelly, John Gilchrist, Eleanor Hancock, Jesmin ISLAM, Maria Northcote, Kate Thomson

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookChapterpeer-review


This chapter is set within the complex context of academia where challenges facing sustainability of learning communities are yet to be explored in detail. It presents a narrative of one such exploration with a focus on the personal experience stories of community members who have taken their vision for a sustainable higher education community of practice called TATAL (Talking about Teaching and Learning) from dream to reality. The focus of this chapter, the 2009 and 2011 TATALs, are two of seven on-going TATAL communities. Their journey suggests that to maintain long-term sustainability, learning communities need to be both individually sustaining places and collectively sustainable spaces. These places and spaces are characterised by connection through professional and social relationships, engagement through purposeful collaborative reflective inquiry, ownership through shared commitment to each other, safety based on multiple trusts and permissions, and holistic facilitation as weaving. Knowing more about individual and collective sustainability enhances individual, community, and institutional understanding of the value of informal learning for teachers. This knowledge better positions individuals to negotiate the challenges of the shifting higher education landscapes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCommunities of Practice
Subtitle of host publicationFacilitating Social Learning in Higher Education
EditorsJacquie McDonald, Aileen Cater-Steel
Place of PublicationSingapore
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9789811028793
ISBN (Print)9789811028779
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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