Digital Competences (IV). Jesús Martínez & Dolors Reig: Communities of Practice in Public Administrations. Compartim programme and digital competences

Notes from the course Competencias digitales: conocimientos, habilidades y actitudes para la Sociedad Red (Digital competences: Knowledge, skills and attitudes for the Network Society), organized by the CUIMPB, and held in Barcelona, Spain, on July 16th and 17h, 2009. More notes on this event: competencias_digitales_cuimpb_2009.

Communities of Practice in Public Administrations. Compartim programme and digital competences
Jesús Martínez and Dolors Reig

The Compartim programme

The professionals from the Catalan Justice Department are expert professionals that need no diffusion but working sessions where to share requirements of specific training and see whether any colleague might know or have a solution: the way to engage these professionals in training is, then, communities of practice.

On the other hand, the problem is that most of the times there is not a preset solution for many problems, as they are complex and need many approaches.

Technology enables a constant connection among peers, provided that everyone shares and collaborates and builds knowledge together.

A good thing about communities of practice (CoP) is that they can be shaped as needs require. The structure Compartim established has: an e-moderator that leads a working group, face-to-face meetings and online work, discussion, outputs, diffusion of these outputs (normally reports) and assessment of the whole process. The working group is smaller (+250 people) and its first approach to the problem is shared with the rest of the participants (+1300).

An external consultant provides seldom “knowledge pills” that feed a knowledge based, also fed by the library and the outputs of the CoP, which, at their turn, are provided by the employees.

Adaptation from face-to-face was tough: people used to sharing and participating in meetings, could dangerously evolve to the 1-9-90 standard: 1% heavy contributors, 9% intermittent contributors, 90% lurkers. With people overwhelmed with work, this could even get worse. The ratio they got was 16.17 active participation, rest lurkers.

One of the best outcomes was learning. From the 4 main components of the CoP (antenna, organization of know-how, production and learning), learning became the focus of the CoP and the main driver of satisfaction. And this learning has as origin tacit experts belonging to the CoP.

Digital competences at the Communities of Practice

At the Compartim CoP all kinds of digital literacies and competences were dealt with, specially Technological and Informational literacies, and much less (a “to do” for the nearest future) e-Awareness. But almost all kinds of tools, approaches and competences were dealt with, including digital identity/presence by means of LinkedIn.

Main characteristics of the learning process:

  • Viral design
  • Meetings and events with reputed people to trigger change and engagement
  • Short and really operative learning units, on a constant basis and always available
  • Presence and conversation, through blogs, contents on several platforms (podcast, vidcast, etc.), netvibes, etc.

Strucutre of the learning process

  • Specific courses for e-moderators
  • Specialized seminars on knowledge management
  • Good practices sessions
  • Conferences

The blog proved to be the best tool as it could be uses in many applications and levels of knowledge, including the training of several skills at a time.

Besides digital competences, of course collaborative work was highly treated and trained. And learning proved to be higher the higher was the engagement of the members to the Community of Practice.

What’s next? more processes on a peer-to-peer basis; reinforce autonomous learning and people oriented towards learning; more work with tools, specially when there are new tools every day; creativity and lateral thinking; creation of Personal Learning Environments (PLEs) and professional e-portfolios, both at the individual and the collective (CoP) levels.


Ismael Peña-López: how much have been CoP mainstreamed or embedded in everyday’s life? Jesús Martínez: the CoPs that are useless, just fade away. The ones that are interesting, with the appropriate support and digital skills training completely succeed and are used on a daily basis. Dolors Reig: because people are absolutely engaged, which is one of the main goals: engagement. CoPs have to be useful for work but also for other aspects of life.

More information


Course on Digital Competences (2009)

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2009) “Digital Competences (IV). Jesús Martínez & Dolors Reig: Communities of Practice in Public Administrations. Compartim programme and digital competences” In ICTlogy, #70, July 2009. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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