Some folks have a difficult time understanding the concept and purpose of a topic on a Community of practice (COP). This short four page paper I have authored will help you to understand what topics are, how best to make use of them and how to avoid topic pitfalls. It will also give you some tips, based on my own personal experiences, on making them successful.

Here is a short teaser from the paper:

“Perhaps it would be useful at this point to review the American Heritage College Dictionary definition of topic which is: “A subject of discussion or conversation”. This short and to the point definition of a topic embodies the key difference between websites and COPs, and is one every knowledge manager and facilitator needs to understand at the “gut” level.

From a software and structural perspective topics appear on the structure tree directly under the community heading of a community of practice.  They usually consist of one or more descriptive text words that is in reality a link. An example would be the “Virtual Worlds” topic on KMNet. You enter a topic by clicking on it. Once clicked, they display a descriptive page for that specific topic. Topics are often seen, incorrectly by many, as simply file folders where content in the form of files is stored. While we do sometimes use the topic for that purpose, when nothing else is available or will do, that is not what they are designed for. Topics can also have one or more sub-topics nested below them.”

For more download the file below:

This paper is released for use under the following license:

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