Wenger et al. (2011). Promoting and assessing value creation in communities and networks: a conceptual framework

Wenger, E., Trayner, B., & De Laat, M. (2011, April 28). Promoting and assessing value creation in communities and networks: a conceptual framework. Retrieved December 22, 2015, from…

Narrative as means of describing networks and communities, and in understanding their value for learning.

Narrative is not automatable. Or is it? How can narratives be generated algorithmically? (See Ship in KSR’s Aurora)

How can the narrative of a network or community be used to enhance learning? To enhance the effectiveness of the network/community? To transform it? To sustain it?

How to situate each individual’s personal narrative into the broader networks and communities and their collective narratives?

Cycles of value:

  1. Immediate. Activities and interactions. Answer question. Meet someone.

  2. Potential. Knowledge. Human, social, tangible, reputational, learning)

  3. Applied. Changes in practice

  4. Realized – performance improvement

  5. Reframing – redefining success

Notes from Papers:


p.9: By value creation we mean the value of the learning enabled by community involvement and networking — Highlighted Dec 22, 2015

p.9: we focus on the value that networks or communities create when they are used for social learning activities such as sharing information, tips and documents, learning from each other’s experience, helping each other with challenges, creating knowledge together, keeping up with the field, stimulating change, and offering new types of professional development opportunities. — Highlighted Dec 22, 2015

p.9: our framework includes both a set of relevant indicators for data collection and a process for integrating these indicators into a meaningful account of value creation — Highlighted Dec 22, 2015

p.10: Communities and networks can generate all sorts of quantitative and qualitative data about their activities. It is therefore important for our framework to support the inclusion and triangulation of multiple sources and types of data — Highlighted Dec 22, 2015

p.10: Some data may already exist, such as various performance indicators for an organization. Some more subtle indicators require substantial evaluation to be useful, such as the level of trust or the quality of relationships. Finally, it is important to be able to attribute observable outcomes to community and network activities so that one can establish enough causal links to go beyond mere correlations between distinct data streams — Highlighted Dec 22, 2015

p.10: The idea of this framework is to provide the foundation for an evaluation process that can integrate heterogeneous sources and types of data to create a compelling picture of how communities and networks create value for their members, for hosting organizations, and for sponsors. — Highlighted Dec 22, 2015

p.11: community of practice, which we define as a learning partnership among people who find it useful to learn from and with each other about a particular domain — Highlighted Dec 22, 2015

p.11: network as a shortcut for social network. The term refers to a set of connections among people, whether or not these connections are mediated by technological networks. They use their connections and relationships as a resource in order to quickly solve problems, share knowledge, and make further connections — Highlighted Dec 22, 2015

p.11: The network — Highlighted Dec 22, 2015

p.11: The community — Highlighted Dec 22, 2015

p.12: The learning value of community derives from the ability to develop a collective intention to advance learning in a domain — Highlighted Dec 22, 2015

p.12: Over time, a joint history of learning also becomes a resource among the participants in the form of a shared practice – a shared repertoire of cases, techniques, tools, stories, concepts, and perspectives — Highlighted Dec 22, 2015

p.12: How to help keep communities active, dynamic, inclusive? — Written Dec 22, 2015

p.13: Participation in a network does not require a sustained learning partnership or a commitment to a shared domain. In this sense, learning in a network does not have to have an explicit collective dimension — Highlighted Dec 22, 2015

p.13: Community = common identity and purpose. Longer term.

High signal : noise


Network = diversity and multiple perspectives. Spontaneous. Personal. Organic.

Low signal : noise

Individual-driven — Written Dec 22, 2015

p.13: The learning value of network derives from access to a rich web of information sources offering multiple perspectives and dialogues, responses to queries, and help from others – whether this access is initiated by the learner or by others — Highlighted Dec 22, 2015

p.13: The danger of network is noise and diffusion — Highlighted Dec 22, 2015

p.13: it does require maintenance of connections and the ability to distinguish between significance and noise. At the collective level, the strength of networks in enabling serendipity and emergent behaviors has a flipside: the absence of collective intention and identity makes it more difficult to steward a domain systematically. When connections remain largely local important insights can remain hidden because there is no intention to recognize and negotiate their importance through the mobilization of a committed group — Highlighted Dec 22, 2015

p.13: The challenge of network is that it requires a strong sense of direction on the part of individuals. — Highlighted Dec 22, 2015

p.14: The work of community is to develop the learning partnership that creates an identity around a common agenda or area for learning. It is to specify why people are there, what they can learn from each other, and what they can achieve by learning together. It is to develop a collective sense of trust and commitment. The work of network is to optimize the connectivity among people. It is to increase the extent and density of the network by strengthening existing connections, enabling new connections and getting a speedy response. It is to increase the network’s potential to give rise to unexpected connections. — Highlighted Dec 22, 2015

p.15: Social learning is enhanced by a dynamic interplay of both community and network processes. Such interplay combines focus and fluidity as it braids individual and collective learning. The work of fostering learning needs to take advantage of this complementarity. — Highlighted Dec 22, 2015

p.17: communities and networks have stories – how they started, what has happened since, what participants are trying to achieve. It is in the context of these narratives that one can appreciate what learning is taking place (or not) and what value is created (or not). Framing value creation through narratives emphasizes the importance of audience and perspective. — Highlighted Dec 22, 2015

p.17: Audiences: — Highlighted Dec 22, 2015

p.17: Perspectives: — Highlighted Dec 22, 2015

p.17: The personal narratives refer to the experience of participants. The collective narratives relate to the social networks and communities in which people participate. — Highlighted Dec 22, 2015

p.17: a personal network is not a separate structure, but an integral part of social networks in which the person participates. — Highlighted Dec 22, 2015

p.18: it is largely through their personal networks that people participate in broader social networks. Social networks are the aggregation of personal networks. The stories of personal and social networks are two narratives about a single, integrated process — Highlighted Dec 22, 2015

p.18: People belong to multiple communities and this multimembership creates a unique identity for any one individual. Belonging to multiple communities gives rise to personal experiences of learning that are unique, even in the context of a given community. — Highlighted Dec 22, 2015

p.18: narratives are accounts of what has happened and is happening in the everyday life of a community or network. These “ground” narratives include the formative events that have shaped the development of a community or network, the activities that members engage in, the interactions and experiences they have, and the roles people play — Highlighted Dec 22, 2015

p.18: narratives also represent aspirations for a network or community – what a person is trying to achieve when networking, what defines success for a community — Highlighted Dec 22, 2015

p.21: The first four cycles in this framework are an adaptation of the four-level model of Donald Kirkpatrick (1976, 1994), which has become a standard in the training and program evaluation literature. — Highlighted Dec 22, 2015

p.33: Data can be collected for each cycle and provide useful information; however, most indicators taken by themselves only act as proxies for value creation to the extent that observations in one cycle can warrant safe assumptions about another. — Highlighted Dec 22, 2015

p.39: As stories traverse the cycles, they are likely to refer to elements that are also monitored as indicators at each cycle, such as exciting conversations, oft-downloaded documents, interesting new practices, or relevant measures of performance. In the process, stories substantiate indicators, give them life, and make them more meaningful by connecting them into more extensive processes of value creation — Highlighted Dec 22, 2015

p.39: when used as a proxy, the significance of a good indicator is that is a short-hand for a set of imagined value-creation stories. For instance, if a document has been downloaded a large number of times from a community website, one can assume that there exist a number of value-creation stories running through that document. Similarly if a tweet has been retweeted repeatedly through a network, one can assume that many people have found value in the information that it conveys. Or if an inquiry has led to a substantial discussion on a listserv, one can assume that the topic has hit on something important to many people who can make use of the resulting insights in their own contexts. One increases the robustness of the picture by making such implied stories more explicit. — Highlighted Dec 22, 2015

p.51: Kirkpatrick, D.L. (1976). Evaluation of Training. In R. L. Craig (Ed.), Training and Development Handbook: A guide to human resource management (2 nd d ed., pp. 301-319). New York: McGraw-Hill. Kirkpatrick, D.L. (1994). Evaluating Training Programs: the four levels. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Wenger, E., McDermott, R., & Snyder, W.M. (2002). Cultivating Communities of Practice: a guide to managing knowledge. Boston: Harvard Business School Press. — Highlighted Dec 22, 2015

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