Online communities - vehicles for professional learning?

Bradshaw, Pete; Powell, Stephen and Terrell, Ian (2002). Online communities - vehicles for professional learning? In: BERA Conference, 11-14 Sep 2002, Exeter.

URL: http://69.89.27.211/~stephep6/weblog/wp-content/up...

Abstract

The use of online communities for professional learning is an emerging field, particularly in education in the UK. Do the benefits claimed for their use manifest in learning gains, when considering the school improvement agenda?
How far are we able to turn the rhetoric into some form of reality and how are we trying to do that?

This paper reports findings from our experience with online learning communities in three contexts. The first relates to the Department of Education and Skills (DfES) and National College for School Leadership (NCSL)Talking Heads Community, which has been established over the last two years.

The second involves online learning programmes such as the National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH), which we have supported in collaboration with the NCSL. Lastly, the third context is our work on online masters levels programmes in a University.

In this work we explore some of the issues arising from our preliminary research and analysis of the different contexts in building online professional learning communities. Such issues that are emerging include developing participation, promoting supportive yet challenging tutoring/facilitation,
structuring learning opportunities, connecting formal and informal learning and overcoming isolation.

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