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Legitimate peripheral participation (LPP) is a theoretical description of how newcomers become experienced members and eventually old timers of a Community of practice or collabrative project. According to LPP, newcomers become members of a community initially by participating in minute and superficial yet productive and necessary tasks that contribute to the overall goal of the community. These activities are typically simple and carry low risk to the community as a whole but, are also important. Through peripheral activities, novices become acquainted with the tasks, vocabulary, and organizing principles of the community. Gradually, as newcomers become old timers, their participation takes forms that are more and more central to the functioning of the community. LPP suggests that membership in a community of practice is mediated by the possible forms of participation to which newcomers have access, both physically and socially. If newcomers can directly observe the practices of experts, they understand the broader context into which their own efforts fit. Conversely LPP suggests that newcomers who are seperated from the experts have limited access to their tools and communitee and therefore have limited growth.
LPP is not reserved for descriptions of membership in formal organizations or professions whose practices are highly defined.
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