We are a collective of Piedmont University faculty and staff engaged in the enterprise of learning how to use AI in the classroom. We aim to employ AI as a tool to help us with our jobs, to help students learn knowledge and skills useful from their education and careers, to educate students on beneficial uses of AI, and to discourage students from using AI for cheating and malicious purposes. We will achieve these aims through meeting monthly in person as possible and through interactions on this Discord server. During these interactions, we will share our efforts and the outcome of those efforts, listen to their feedback, and provide feedback to others about their efforts and outcomes. The material we develop through interactions will be stored on this Discord server, providing access for everyone. Our ultimate goal is to develop best practices for the use of AI by Piedmont University faculty, staff, and students. We will share these practices and our materials through workshops sponsored by the Center for Teaching and Learning.
We toil away developing content, assignments, and demonstrations for our classes, building a body of knowledge that we may share with a few other faculty on occasion but mostly keep to ourselves. This isolated learning produces several deficits. 1. We don't get feedback (other than from our students) that might improve our practices. 2. We deprive other faculty whose classes and professional development might benefit from our experiences. 3. We are deprived of the opportunity to learn from their practices. 4. Since we tend to share within our departments or schools or a few close colleagues, we miss the opportunity to inform the broader University.
Communities of practice shift learning from an individual to a group effort. Individuals share their efforts and the outcomes of those efforts with a community devoted to making similar efforts. It could be a community of craftsmen, a community of running coaches, or a community of faculty. When we share an assignment (for example) with colleagues in our department, we are sharing within a community of practice since we are sharing with people who teach similar courses to the same group of students. But that is a very small community.
Kirschner and Hendrick (2020, p.254) define communities of practice as "collectives which have a shared set joint enterprise, feature mutual engagement and will have produced a shared repertoire of resources such as language, artifacts, narratives etc. and have ready access to them."