Developing online teacher communities to support communication and collaboration

Lyon, Vicky Anne (2014). Developing online teacher communities to support communication and collaboration. EdD thesis The Open University.



Glow, the Scottish arm of the National Grid for Learning (NGfL), was created to connect each of Scotland's 32 local authorities, schools, teachers and pupils, as well as key stakeholders through a secure intranet. Since the official launch of Glow in 2007 it has received a mixed reception amongst the teaching profession and engagement has been variable. This study set out to investigate Glow's use. The initial online survey of teachers' perceptions of Glow, in 2009, indicated that respondents were making little use of Glow. This led to a refocusing ofthe research to investigate a group of teachers who had a history of communicating online, with a view to understanding how teacher communities evolve online. A case study approach was adopted using a variety of methods including e-participant observations of their asynchronous discussion forums, questionnaires and interviews. The research builds on previous work on member Life-Cycle models and online community models in order to describe and analyse this onlineteacher community. Key findings emerged related to the adequacy of existing models of online communities and the evolution of new modes of online interaction. Specifically, member Life-Cycle models designed for open online communities do not fully describe the roles adopted in a closed teacher community. Furthermore, such models are inadequate to fully understand community development where members communicate offline as well as online. For this existing teacher community synchronous discussions appear to be increasing in relevance and popularity in comparison with asynchronous discussions. The implications of this for the next generation of Glow and online teacher communities are particularly relevant suggesting that focused synchronous discussion groups are an area for future research. Keywords: Glow, NGfL, online communication, online collaboration, online communities, teacher communities.

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