"A community of practice (CoP) is, according to cognitive anthropologists Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger, a group of people who share an interest, a craft, and/or a profession. The group can evolve naturally because of the members' common interest in a particular domain or area, or it can be created specifically with the goal of gaining knowledge related to their field. It is through the process of sharing information and experiences with the group that the members learn from each other, and have an opportunity to develop themselves personally and professionally (Lave & Wenger 1991). CoPs can exist online, such as within discussion boards and newsgroups, or in real life, such as in a lunch room at work, in a field setting, on a factory floor, or elsewhere in the environment.
This type of learning practice has existed for as long as people have been learning and sharing their experiences through storytelling. Wenger coined the phrase in his 1998 book, Communities of Practice: learning, meaning and identity."
The almighty Wikipedia has spoken.
In 2010 APIS was asked to "build a forum" that Red Deer College would use to to connect the healthcare professionals in Alberta in an environment where they could share stories, tools, and lessons with eachother in the interest of bettering the practice itself within the community. By the time the project was scoped the worker bees were adding a document library, multimedia library, and advanced user profiles and roles to accomodate the sophisticated needs of the community. Launched under a surprisingly tight deadline, the site quickly grew to a critical mass of active users and continues to serve its participants.