Document Type


Subject Area(s)

Library and Information Science


Every discipline has an existing canon – seen in textbooks, scholarly journals, conference proceedings, etc. – that explicitly outlines existing practice and thought. Recognizing the inadequacy of these canons, the current paper outlines an approach to classroom instruction that helps students move beyond these texts as they create and discover noncanonical knowledge. This noncanonical approach focuses on turning classrooms into Communities of Practice (CoP). There is myriad literature on the utility of such groups for knowledge creation and learning in organizations, yet this paper is unique in introducing it to classroom instruction. By turning classrooms into an adapted CoP, instructors are situated to move beyond the texts or canons of their disciplines. This occurs as they a) invite unique student contributions to create ideas and knowledge that go beyond existing texts, b) develop trust and community among students that goes beyond simple icebreakers and standard group work, and c) engage consistently in action that recognizes the practical utility of what is learned. This is essential to any discipline, yet it has a special place in the field of Library and Information Science (LIS) which – long a discipline of the text – is itself moving outside of this as it focuses on knowledge creation [1]. In addition to its theoretical foundation, the paper provides practical steps instructors can take to turn their classrooms into CoPs that move beyond the existing text.