Building Leadership Capacity for Community of Practice Facilitators: Edgy Professional Development

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Research and Development in Higher Education Vol. 34: Higher Education on the Edge

July, 2011, 394 pages
Published by
K. Krause, M. Buckridge, C. Grimmer, & S. Purbrick-Illek
0 908557 85 X

Communities of practice (CoPs) are often cited in higher education literature as a successful way of building and sharing a scholarly approach to enhancing learning and teaching practice. However, CoPs operate differently from institutionalised work groups and the leadership, or facilitator role, differs from the familiar chairperson, or unit/course leader, so this role requires in-depth exploration, articulation and capacity building. The 2010-11 ALTC Teaching Fellowship uses an action research approach to identify key aspects of the facilitator role, explore issues around the role and develop resources to build the leadership capacity of CoP facilitators. The facilitators engaged in an interactive theatre workshop to identify and act out critical incidents they face in their CoP facilitator role. Activities are based on Augusto Boal’s (2002) ‘Theatre of The Oppressed’ approach, where participants are engaged in a theatrical game in which a problem is shown in an unsolved form, to which the audience of facilitators is invited to suggest and enact solutions. Participants are guided through the physical process of creating structures of power, examining roles within the community, identifying problems and sharing solutions. Many different solutions are enacted in a single forum – resulting in the pooling of knowledge, tactics and experience – what Boal calls a ‘rehearsal for reality’. The authors will explore the leadership role of CoP facilitators and the transformation, growth and emergence of ideas generated by cross-boundary, or ‘on the edge’ activities, by bringing two groups (CoP Facilitators and Theatre Arts) together in a creative and innovative progression.

Keywords: community of practice, professional development, Boal ‘Theatre of The Oppressed’