Frequently Asked Questions

What is a community advocate?

An advocate is someone who will support community activities by keeping the flow of information animated. An advocate should be a good communicator, listener, and committed to the community.

What is the role of a community advocate?

The role of advocated is to define activities that engage members, encourage discussion and debate by seeding conversations through blogs and forums, assist in the use of the infrastructure, and organize face-to-face events and meetings to bring members together.

How can advocates start and maintain a vibrant Community of Practice?

1. Identify the audience, purpose, goals, and vision for the community.

2. Define the activities, technologies, group processes, and roles that will support the community’s goals.

3. Pilot the community with a select group of key stakeholders to gain commitment, test assumptions, refine the strategy, and establish a success story.

4. Roll out the community to a broader audience over a period of time in ways that engage newcomers and deliver benefits.

5. Engage members to meet individual, group, and organizational goals while creating an increasing cycle of participation and contribution.

6. Cultivate and assess the knowledge to inform new strategies, goals, activities, roles, technologies, and business models for the future.

Content from: Cambridge, Darren, Soren Kaplan, and Vicki Suter. Community of Practice Design Guide.

What does it mean to be a member of a community?

Members of communities should share resources, contribute ideas and opinions to discussions, and notify members of events of interest. Members should seek ways to interact with other members whether it is virtual or face-to-face.

What could be accomplished by an Effective-Practices Community?

An Effective-Practices Community is one that develops and disseminates best practices, guidelines, and procedures for their members use. An example of this type of community is one on “Student Success Factors”, and would include:

increasing exchange of lessons learned and good practice

seeking new understanding of development and implementation of a promising practice

collaborating to develop, consult, and validate practice

publishing and disseminating specific practices

verifying effectiveness and benefit of practice

accelerating the speed of quality decision making and implementation of best practice

achieving higher standards in projects, strategies, and improving outcomes

enlisting leading experts

What could a Research-Based Community accomplish?

A research-Based Community could accomplish the following:

create a shared understanding of need(s), challenge(s), or problem(s) to be resolved

share resources, such as expertise, knowledge, infrastructure, and information around a topic

provide access to news, publications, and websites in a central location

collaborate to increase the productivity of ideas and knowledge

support creative and interdisciplinary collaborations

share and develop expert knowledge and thinking

accelerate the rate of innovation through sharing and testing of ideas

blend face-to-face interaction with on-line activities

sponsor provocative round-table discussions (live and virtual)

What should be included as a Related Effort?

An effort that is related to the theme, such a funded project, unfunded project, center, or other community, may be of interest to members of the community and should be added to the community under “Related Effort”. The brief description of the related effort is limited to 500 characters, including spaces.

What are the different types of resources?

The resources that one can contribute are categorized as follows:



Effective Practice



Professional Development



The brief description of the resource is limited to 500 characters, including spaces.

What is the purpose of Dialog?

An important aspect of being a member of a community is the regular exchange of information either through in-person or virtual meetings. There are a number of options for exchanging information virtually, and the community has the ability to select and advertise how they will communicate.

What is SmartCloud?

SmartCloud is one option available to communities for exchanging information. Some of the features provided by SmartCloud are:

Activities- a place to plan activities of the community and maintain “to do” assignments

Ideation Blog- a place to share and vote on ideas

Wikis- a place to record information and support collaborative editing

Blogs- a place to post opinions and links to other websites

Forum- a place where ideas can be exchanged

Media Gallery- a place to share images and videos

How does one get an account to IBM SmartCloud?

To get an account, please send a request to ORSP through