Preconference programme on Wednesday 7 June 9.00 - 17.00

Windesheim University of Applied Sciences. Campus, D-building, Ground Floor

The preconference programme offers you the opportunity to work in a small-scale setting with Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayer. In addition, you will experience a City as Text© “walkabout” in the city of Zwolle.

There are still places available! Please sign up upon registration or send an email to

The programme is as follows:

9.00  Welcome (with coffee and tea) 
9.30  Case Clinics or City as Text© 
12.30  Lunch 
13.30  City as Text© or Case Clinics 
16.30  Drinks 

Costs: 100,- euro (including lunch and drinks)

Case Clinics

In a case clinic, case presenters first share their context briefly. Then they submit a specific challenge and invite the group to help them think through the issue and brainstorm ways to approach it. The clinic is an opportunity for the presenter to be “productively selfish”. It helps if the case is a live problem that has urgency for the presenter.

We are looking for participants who want to bring in an important, concrete and urgent problem that need to be solved fast. Do you have any burning issues for which a social learning approach might be useful? Here is an example of the type of case that could be submitted: I work with a team of enthusiastic teachers who want to get the best out of the students. Until now we only shared our experiences among teachers. Starting next year we would like to involve more students in our exchanges. We don’t have extra facilities. What can I do to foster such exchanges between teachers and students?

If you are interested in bringing in your case, please indicate this upon registration or hand in your question to the mailbox now, so we can ensure we have a nice mix of issues. Every presenter is asked to bring a sheet about the context in order to make it easier for the attendees to understand their project.

Etienne and Beverly Wenger-Trayer will facilitate this social learning process.

City as Text©

City as Text© is a bottom-up learning process developed by the National Collegiate Honors Council. City as Text© builds on Kolb’s concept of experiential learning and consists of a structured exploration of a socio-cultural system. Small teams of participants explore particular aspects of a city, taking notes and writing up brief field comments to share with the other participants afterwards. In this pre-conference session, participants will enjoy  a City as Text© experience, focusing on two aspects of Zwolle’s identity.

The City as Text experience will be facilitated by Deanne Boisvert and students of the Windesheim Honours College.

Etienne Wenger-TraynerEtienne Wenger

Is a globally recognized thought leader in the field of social learning and communities of practice. He has authored or co-authored seminal articles and books on the topic, including Situated Learning, where the term “community of practice” was coined; Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity, where he details a theory of learning based on the concept; Cultivating Communities of Practice, addressed to practitioners in organizations who want to  strategically apply  communities of practice concepts. He has also written Digital Habitats, which tackles issues of technology. His work has influenced a growing number of organizations in the private and public sectors. In addition, he helps organizations apply these ideas through consulting, public speaking, and workshops.

Beverly Wenger-Trayner

Is a learning consultant specializing in communities of practice and social learning systems. Her expertise encompasses both the design of learning architectures and the facilitation of processes, activities, and use of new technologies. Her work with international organizations such as: the Nuclear Threat Initiative, the International Labour Organization, The World Bank, and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research have given her substantial experience in coaching conveners and in supporting multi-lingual groups across cultures, time-zones, and geographic locations. She has published book chapters and articles about learning in internationally distributed communities and co-authored a popular toolkit on social reporting. She has also been the creative director of an open source platform for networked communities.

A short history of Zwolle

Archaeological findings indicate that the area surrounding Zwolle has been inhabited for thousands of years. eons. A woodhenge, found in south Zwolle, in 1993 was dated to the Bronze Age. During the Roman era, the area was inhabited by Salian Franks.

The modern city was founded around 800 CE by Frisian merchants and troops under the command of Charlemagne. The name Zwolle is derived from the word Suolle, which means "hill" (cf. the English cognate verb "to swell"). This refers to an incline in the landscape between the four rivers surrounding the city, IJssel, Vecht, Aa and Zwarte Water. The hill was the only piece of land that would remain dry during the frequent floodings of the rivers.

On August 31, 1230, the Bishop of Utrecht granted Zwolle city rights. And in 1294, Zwolle became a member of the Hanseatic league and, in 1361, joined the war between the Hanseatic League and Valdemar IV of Denmark. At the war’s end, in 1370, Zwolle was awarded a “vitte” -  trade colony -  in Scania, then part of Denmark.

Zwolle's Golden Age came in the 15th century. Between 1402 and 1450, the city's gross regional product increased  six-fold.  During this time Zwolle, along with Deventer, was also a centre of the Brethren of the Common Life, a monastic movement. And three miles from Zwolle, on a slight eminence called the Agnietenberg (hill of St Agnes), once stood the Augustinian monastery, where Thomas à Kempis spent the greatest part of his life and where he died (in 1471).

The majority of Brethren were laymen who did not take monastic vows. They devoted themselves to charitable work, nursing the sick, studying and teaching the Scriptures, and copying religious and inspirational works. They founded a number of schools that became famous for high academic standards. Famous men who attended their schools include:  Nicholas of Cusa, Thomas à Kempis, and Erasmus.

The Brethren were also known for developing the Devotio Moderna (the Modern Devotion), an undogmatic form of piety which some historians have argued helped  pave the road for the Protestant Reformation.