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Establishing Communities of Practice

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Started by Janak 23 Jul 2012 6:50pm () Replies (4)

There are already curriculum/special interest communities out there - we all need to be active in those communities in sharing about the VLN & encouraging them to work together through the VLN - it is not just for online teachers.

The other things we can do is to identify eTeachers who are active in the VLN Communities and encourage them to develop COPS. 

Do you know any eTeachers who you think would be interested in leading some activity in an area of interest/or are already doing so?

What are your thoughts on this?


  • Darren (View all users posts) 26 Jul 2012 11:54am ()

    This is a bugbear of mine.  We have teachers teaching the same subject (and level) in a unique environment (distance / online), but there is no contact between these teachers.  How can we facilitate some collaboration between eTeachers?  If we leave it entirely up to teachers it just won't happen, but on the other hand you can't force communities of practice.

    At the moment it would require some digging from a keen teacher to even find contacts in the same subject.  Is there a way we can it much more obvious who is teaching what, and their email address?  To me this would be a useful starting point.  

  • Ken Pullar (View all users posts) 26 Jul 2012 7:12pm ()

    I wonder if our eTeachers almost live a dual identity - as 'subject teachers' (eg I'm a Maths teacher and have existing professional networks which meet my curriculum teaching needs) and seperately as an 'eTeacher' (with a similar, but distinct networks of online teachers where the curriculum isnt as important as the medium they are teaching in - such networks are usually based within a cluster)

    If this is the case, perhaps these teachers feel there professional needs are already met, via multiple more local, existing networks

    There may not be a percieved need for 'subject eTeacher' communities

    - Just thinking out loud.


    Another thing inhibiting the growth of such 'subject eTeacher' communities, is the lack of opportunity for vital initial 'f2f' relationship building opportunities - its very difficult for any online CoP to establish without opportunities to meet first physical (& establish tentative relationships).

  • Darren (View all users posts) 27 Jul 2012 1:43pm ()

    I certainly agree that networking with other eTeachers is extremely useful for teachers' professional learning and this doesn't have anything to do with subject area.  And maybe you are right - teachers feel their needs are being met although I would be surprised.

    I can only speak for CantaNet eTeachers, but their ongoing professional learning is sporadic and ad hoc (I would be surprised if many other clusters are different).  They have two days face to face at the end of the year, termly VC meetings, and ongoing discussions within our course area in Educo.  The latter has been a revelation this year, but there is no systematic programme of professional learning to improve practice.  This is one of the criticisms Kerry Steven's thesis levelled at the VLN a couple of years ago and I tend to agree.  It is something that will be on the table in our upcoming strategic meeting in Tekapo.  My point is that I would be surprised if many eTeachers feel their professional learning needs are being met from within their own network so I wouldn't think that would be a barrier to COPs across the VLN.  I would like to point out that I don't really know what you are doing within OtagoNet on an ongoing basis Ken, so I am prepared to be corrected on that.  In fact I would be happy to be.  

    Subject related COPs would provide the possibility (and only that) of eTeachers collaborating on their courses.  So three L3 Physics eTeachers working together to better meet the needs of the learners.  Why have three individual courses with no real connection between them?  I realise there are major barriers in teacher thinking to overcome there, but I would sure like to try.

    I also agree on the importance of face to face opportunities, and that is also a barrier.

    I suppose we need to decide whether it is worth pushing and if so what are the solutions?

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The VLN Community - Home of the Learning Communities Online (LCO)

The Virtual Learning Network Community (VLNC) is a network of school clusters who collaborate to provide access to curriculum and learning opportunities for students through online learning.