chapter  13
16 Pages

Making Your Job Easier: Building Writing Communities Where Students Love to Learn

Writing an essay alone doesn’t require much if any agreement on habits between stu-

dents. Collaborative writing requires collaboration. Like dancers, collaborators must agree

on the steps they will take to “step on toes” as little as possible. You can teach simple

habits in unforgettable ways that reinforce good collaborative writing habits for life. In

the online world, we call this building a community of practice (CoP) . Jean Lave and

Etienne Wenger give us this definition:

Communities of practice are formed by people who engage in a process of collective

learning in a shared domain of human endeavor: a tribe learning to survive, a band

of artists seeking a new form of expression, a group of engineers working on similar

problems . . . In a nutshell: Communities of practice are groups of people who share

a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they

interact regularly. 2

Let’s look at the two parts of building community. First, you must clearly communicate

five pillars of your community: purpose, point of view, licensing and copyright, guidelines,

and rules.