Setting Up a GIS Community of Practice

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    Carol MacKay-Matak

    Hi there. Has anyone out there set up a GIS Community of Practice before? If YES, do you have any resources you could share? Thanks, Carol


    Diana Sinton

    Hi Carol.  Do you mean a “Community of Practice” across a University?  Or around a particular project?




    Don Boyes

    I am currently in the process of co-organizing what we’re calling a Round Table Series: Online Teaching and Learning (which is really meant to be an informal, brown-bag style of event) for our university community.  The stated objectives are “to foster a community of practice that includes all aspects of online teaching and learning (including flipped and hybrid approaches), and to promote professional development through regular, informal meetings both online and in person”.  This is not a GIS CoP but perhaps the steps are similar.  I’m new to the concept of CoP’s, but a colleague of mine recommended Leveraging Communities of Practice for Strategic Advantage (I haven’t looked at it yet) as well as this article.  My approach is really just to provide simple ways that we can identify and connect with colleagues who share similar interests. We plan to hold a couple of meetings per semester and I would like to also have some form of online forum, but we’re still working on which one would be most suitable.  My initial hunch is that we need to start with something low-key and low-commitment and then adjust based on level of interest.

    I haven’t done any of this for a GIS-oriented CoP on campus lately.  A few years ago we made some attempts centered around geospatial data users, but it never really got off the ground.  Perhaps it’s time to take another stab at it.



    I observed something similar take place at Texas State University, as what Don described. This was a formal meeting set-up by faculty in the social sciences and new attendees were invited by participating members of the group. There was often sandwiches served and in a round table format, we shared our current research grants, proposal ideas. The purpose was to have a platform for researchers in the social sciences to meet others on campus who may have complementary interests and skills for future collaboration. This took place once every month with a set agenda and chaired by a faculty.


    Don Boyes

    That’s interesting, Niem. As a quick update, our online CoP has now had two meetings, and I’m very happy to see a high level of interest. We are now planning monthly meetings for this coming school year. For each meeting, we are thinking there will be one main topic with one or two people leading the discussion by sharing their own experiences. So far, these have been brief, informal presentations with a lot of questions throughout. I’m getting quite positive feedback and look forward to continuing with it.

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