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Teachers' Learning in Online Communities of Practice: Two Case Studies from Australia

International Conference on Educational Technologies (ICEduTech),


Australia is a vast land with a dispersed population especially in rural or remote areas, which is geographically located in the Asian region. This has a strong bearing on its initial education (pre-service) and the ongoing professional development (in-service) of teachers. The vastness of Australia causes professional isolation and a lack of face-to-face contact with other teachers while the geographical proximity to Asia makes with languages and cultures a necessity due to geo-political and economic reasons. These two motives shape the work of teachers, whether they are still in training or already experienced professionals. Online social networking platforms such as "ning" and "edumodo" can bridge the geographical distance within Australia while also connecting it to its Asian neighbour. These online communication networks are increasingly more used to Communities of Practice (CoP) based on the theoretical framework of Etienne Wenger. The educational theorist describes CoP's as groups of people with a shared knowledge base, who interact due to a common interest or goal. This paper describes two case studies from an Australian university that involved online CoP's; one for 34 teacher in pre-service to overcome their geographic isolation and the another for 41 in-service teachers to develop their professional learning in order to engage with Asian languages and cultures. The first project failed completely whereas the second project was highly successful. The failure was mainly due to shortcomings in the technical, behavioural and organisational aspect (i.e. a lack of social capital and face-to-face interaction to accompany the online learning component), features which the successful CoP utilised. The opportunities, challenges and outcomes of both projects are described and analysed. These, in combination with the subsequent recommendation might assist readers who are contemplating similar endeavours. [For full proceedings, see ED557168.]


Hanewald, R. (2013). Teachers' Learning in Online Communities of Practice: Two Case Studies from Australia. Presented at International Conference on Educational Technologies (ICEduTech) 2013. Retrieved July 4, 2020 from .

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