Online Communities of Practice in the Service of Teachersí Technology Professional Development: The Case of Webheads in Action

 

ABSTRACT

The aim of this study was to investigate whether an online community of practice (OCoP) approach can be a viable alternative form of technology professional development (TPD) for teachers. In line with this aim, the Webheads in Action (WiA) community, members of which were mainly English as a foreign language (EFL) teachers gathered online to learn more about educational uses of technology, was selected as the case to be studied. A mixed method research approach following convenience sampling strategy was adopted which combined the use of questionnaires (n= 44) and interviews (n= 24). In order to support findings, membersí interactions within the public space of the community were also collated for a period of nine months. Both quantitative (questionnaire) and qualitative (interview) results suggested that participation in the WiA community led to membersí perceived TPD. Moreover, significant differences in questionnaire results, supported with interview data, were observed among members with different levels of participation (e.g. peripheral, active, and core). This finding highlighted the importance of participation and collaboration in online learning environments. It is concluded that teachers should be encouraged to participate in OCoPs for their professional development and the creation of OCoPs appealing to different areas of professional development should be supported.