Prompted by my reading of Lisa Kervin and Beverley Derewianka’s chapter on new technologies to support language learning (p.349) I decided to set up a social networking site for CAE students studying at the ISE in Brighton. The morning class consists of a variety of nationalities, the majority of whom are studying to take the advanced exam. In March we had 12 of our students taking the exam, all of whom who passed. I felt that setting up a social networking site exclusively for students of this class would allow the students who had already taken the exam to share their experiences as well as dispelling myths around the exam while permitting the newer students to network with each other. At the same time it allows the teacher to post materials and links for the students. To give an example, the students were very interested in the Cutting Edge documentaries shown in the class and received links on the site so they could watch them at home.
This idea of creating a ‘community of practice’ (Lave and Wenger 2002) has become very prominent in our materials design thinking. A community of practice is a ‘group of people who share a concern, a set of problems or a passion about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and expertise by interacting on an ongoing basis.’
According to Wenger, White and Smith (2009) technology has changed what it means to be involved in a community of practice as size and membership is no longer constrained by geography.