Setting up a Learning Community within, and for a professional organizations by using the Professional Learning Community Framework (PLCF)

Theoretical framework

A professional learning community is a learning community within an organization. It can be concentrated on a single subject or several. It can be within a single organization or be across several organizations.

The road towards setting up a professional learning community varies per organization. The Professional Learning Community Framework (PLCF) provides the tools to help set up and establish your own Professional Learning Community.

The Professional Learning Community Framework (PLCF)

The Professional Learning Community Framework consists of several cycles. These are called the professional learning community cycles (PLCC). These PLCC can be repeatedly executed to ensure the update of a certain practice, knowledge, or skill with an organization. Various executed cycles are addressed as a routine. Each cycle consists out of several (cycle) stages, which again includes certain actions that can be executed per cycle stage.

The various cycles enable a community of practice within an organization. Each cycle targets certain roles which have been either specifically or organically selected to be focused on in a particular cycle. From here on forward, we will refer to this as the ‘practice’.

learning community

Figure 1 The Professional Learning Community Framework (PLCF)

By visualizing these roles (including the number of professionals per role) you will start to create a pyramid-like figure. This is called the Champion Pyramid as this pyramid leverages a pull effect which is primarily driven by the role of champions described in it.

Going through the cycle stages and executing the related action corresponding to each role is what will help you to expand your community. In doing so, it will nurture the Champions Pyramid by continuously expanding on and growing the pyramid to encourage professionals to move up in the pyramid. This will ultimately increase the level of understanding of the chosen practice (or skill) to be included in the PLCC.

The framework should be started at whichever point in the pyramid best suits the organization’s learning goals (or chosen PLCC). Not all stages are required in each PLCC scenario. Basically, it’s up to each organization on where and how to start.

For example, a short routine may only cover 2 cycles (if that is what the organization wishes) and may begin at the final cycle (#6). The second routine might then jump to Educate and Credit (#4). Again, it is really up to the organization to decide what is best for them. Most important to remember is that continuous practice and execution ultimately leads towards growth in learning.

On one hand, the aim is to execute the above framework while at the same time establishing a life-long-developing (LLD) culture within the organization. By doing so, it will also help employees figure out how to apply a certain skill (set) or practice individually and professionally.