Online Professional Communities: Understanding the Effects of Membership on Teacher Practice
Online communities offer teachers a forum to discuss ideas, seek support, engage in professional discussions and network with a wider peer group. The popularity of online communities for teachers is self-evident by the quantity that has emerged in recent years and they present as opportunities to engage in continued pedagogical growth. The study presented in this paper has focused on the electronic discussions of three online communities for teachers, two Australian-based communities and one UK-based community. The aim was to analyse the content of the messages, via content analysis using the Practical Inquiry Model (Garrison, Anderson & Archer, 2001) in an attempt to determine if membership had an impact pedagogy. This study will present findings that support the conclusion that membership to online communities provides genuine opportunities for continued pedagogical growth for teachers. It will also show that they are being used as a problem solving resource, provide opportunities for professional discourse and professional support.
Keywords: Online Communities, Teacher Professional Development, Content Analysis
Dr. Jennifer Duncan-Howell
Lecturer, School of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education