Abstract - The Information Society 19(3)

Special Issue: Virtual communities in the service of learning

Online Teacher Communities: Technology Snake-Oil or Powerful Catalysts for Professional Development?

Mark Schlager & Judi Fucso


Over the past decade, education reform and teacher training projects have spent a great deal of effort to create and support sustainable, scalable online communities of education professionals. For the most part, those communities have been created in isolation from the existing local professional communities within which the teachers practice. We argue that focusing on online technology solely as a mechanism to deliver training and/or create online networks places the cart before the horse by ignoring the Internet’s even greater potential to help support and strengthen local communities of practice within which teachers work. In this paper, we seek guideposts to help education technologists understand the nature of local K-12 education communities of practice—specifically their reciprocal relationship with teacher professional development and instructional improvement interventions—as a prerequisite to designing online socio-technical infrastructure that supports the professional growth of education professionals.

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