Best Practices in the Design and Implementation of Learning Communities


Beth Siegel, Mt. Auburn Associates, Inc.

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January 12, 2016

Over the past decade, national foundations and the federal government have designed many multisite initiatives that seek to address complex social problems. These initiatives have spanned fields, from criminal justice to early childhood education to community development and health. In addition to providing sites with funding and technical assistance, a number of these initiatives have included some type of cross-site convening within the design, often referred to as “learning communities.”

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation commissioned Mt. Auburn Associates to research how similar types of learning networks, or communities, have been designed, the challenges others have faced when implementing this work, and what have been some of the best practices in terms of building team cohesion, strengthening the capacity of the stakeholders involved in the work, and sparking new and creative thinking. The findings in this report emerge primarily from the interviews with 15 individuals who have had experience in designing and implementing learning communities and communities of practice and individuals involved more broadly in the field of interorganizational learning.