Communities of Practice is a great tool to find and share information, but did you know that as a registered user, you have the ability to create your own space within the site? These areas are called social groups, and they're one of the best kept secrets of CoP.
Social groups on Communities of Practice work a lot like a community (the broad categories you see to in the spaces menu on the home page), but they can be created by any CoP user, and customized to fit a particular project or user's needs. Groups can be open, members only, private or secret. Open groups allow all CoP members to view and post content. Any user can see a private group, but must request to join in order to see content within the group. Secret groups aren't visible on the site to anyone except members, and require a current group member to invite others to join.
Groups have all the features of a community, but are intended to be self-managed and more focused on one topic or interest. There are currently hundreds of groups on Communities of Practice. Some function as the sharing space for state agriculture teacher associations, some are being used as the information hub for online university teacher education courses, and some bring together teachers who share a common interest and want to explore it further.
Here are a few groups you can check out:
A quick primer on using groups
Search for a Group
On the CoP homepage, click the "browse" button at the top of the page, select "places" from the drop down menu.
Click the Social Groups button from the menu across the top. You can further filter your selections once the groups appear.
Follow a Group
Following a group would allow the activity in the group to be on your activity stream, allowing you to see posts whenever you log in to CoP.
Go to the homepage of the group you want to follow.
Click the "Follow" button on the right. This will change that button to say "Following."
Create a Group (you must be logged in)
Click the Create button at the top of the page, then click on the Places tab at the top of that drop down window. Select "group" from that list.
Customize your group's settings of your group, enter a description, and select tags for the group.
Once you have completed all the fields, hit "create group" at the bottom of the page.
Good luck, and if you have any questions about creating a group in Communities of Practice, contact Julie Fritsch at firstname.lastname@example.org