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Communications of the ACM


Building a Virtual Community of Practice For K-12 CS Teachers

CS10K project workshop

Participants in a CS10K project workshop at the University of Delaware.

Credit: Doug Baker / University of Delaware

Wenger and his colleagues8 have described engagement, imagination (or visioning) and alignment as modes of belonging to Communities of Practice (CoPs), or "social learning systems." Actionable elements of CoPs are events, leadership, connectivity, membership, learning projects, and artifacts. This idea was extended to include Legitimate Peripheral Participation, showing how newcomers join, belong, and learn. Brown and Duguid1 provided lessons and ideas for successfully creating, organizing, and growing communities and the shared social knowledge among them. Virtual CoPs, or vCoPs, have been proposed for computer science as possible teacher/community support mechanisms at both the college7 and K–125,6 levels, including as part of a U.S. effort to place 10,000 qualified computer science teachers into high schools.2 This effort has become known as the CS10K project.

Improving high school education in computing has the support of many organizations: the National Science Foundation, ACM, Apple, Google, Microsoft, the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA),, and many higher education institutions. Teachers will need assistance to introduce computing to learners in K–12: high-quality curricula, professional development, local administrative support, state standards, state certifications, and other teachers with whom they can interact. How a vCoP of computing teachers might be successfully grown was explored by a group of researchers at an NSF-funded workshop at Stanford University in November, 2013. This workshop's final report, Building a Virtual Community of Practice: A Report from a Working Meeting in Support of the CS10K Community, is available from the ACM Digital Library. This Viewpoint explores some of the ideas raised in this workshop.


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