Building a National PT3 Online Learning Community
Denise Simard, Betsy Lowry, Johns Hopkins University, United States
Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference, in Nashville, Tennessee, USA ISBN 978-1-880094-44-0 Publisher: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), Chesapeake, VA
Building a National PT3 Online Learning Community Background PT3 has the distinction of touching most major teacher education programs across the country. PT3's national web site will serve a dissemination function, to share the wealth of research, program designs, evaluation findings, resources, and tools that are strengthening preservice teacher education through PT3 funds. To support the synergistic exchange between grantees, PT3 implemented a new intranet in August 2001 called the Electronic Learning Community (ELC), developed at Johns Hopkins University. This secure web space currently has over 800 registered members from the national teacher education community. The ELC acts as a professional development resource for teacher educators by providing convenient channels of communication and increasing the opportunities for collaborative exchange of information and resources, improving the quality of interaction among community members. The structure of the ELC supports community involvement by integrating a decentralized approach to the development of site content, resulting in a web site that reflects the multitude of skills and expertise of the PT3 participant group. The ELC facilitates communication across geographic and professional boundaries, promoting continuous improvement and the generation of new knowledge. This web-based system enhances the learning and cohesiveness of the PT3 community by providing an open forum for the timely sharing of successes and a vehicle for "just in time, just for me" solutions. Through a community-centered set of web-based tools and a strategic facilitation process, the ELC is being applied to meet the following needs identified by the PT3 community: User Control Allow projects to contribute information regularly to the PT3 web site so that the increasing volume, depth, and sophistication of the program become evident over time. Provide a mechanism for all projects to share their products on the web site as they become available, with information about how the products can be accessed. Increase the opportunities for personal participation on the web site. Add an "upload" feature to allow all projects to continuously add new files and web sites ("artifacts") to share with the larger PT3 community. Provide web-based interaction tools that can be user-controlled to allow any configuration of participants to meet online as needed. Provide facilitation support or mentoring for these groups as needed. Community Building Processes Provide projects an opportunity to participate in identifying "best" or "promising" practices, models, and innovations within the PT3 community, and highlight what is selected on the web site in a searchable format. Allow projects to see the ongoing evaluative feedback, and provide a forum for public recognition of product development and other achievements. Build the PT3 community by providing a forum that allows projects to make ideas and accomplishments visible, and to receive validation from their peer group. Create a sense that this is an important place to be "seen." Establish a mechanism to learn about learning communities from grantees who are doing work in this area. Establish a deliberate and effective mechanism for gathering information on the needs and wants of the PT3 community and other PT3 online presence clients continually. Technical Integration Ensure that all interactive web-based systems that are a part of the PT3 program are smoothly integrated and seamless for users. Provide micro and macro spaces on the web for internal project work, for projects to move easily into larger program activities, and for cross-project collaboration. Provide a dynamic web-based calendar for users to record all project and program-related activities. Provide a mechanism for users to see what new content has been added to the site since their last visit. Offer an email alert system to draw users to the PT3 site when new content is added. Purpose of the Poster Session Multiple purposes will be achieved in this poster session: 1) PT3 grantees will have an opportunity to learn more about the Electronic Learning Community application, resources available through the ELC, its purposes and functions, and personal applicability. In addition, we can register anyone who has not yet become a member of the community. 2) We can use this face-to-face forum to foster collaborative exchange between and among PT3 grantees, and to encourage community members to participate in national PT3 initiatives currently facilitated through the ELC. 3) We can solicit feedback and input from PT3 grantees regarding the facilitation approaches used to grow and sustain this community, and effective strategies to make online community work. 4) Beyond the PT3 program we can discuss the role of online community in teacher education, sharing our experiences in applying this ELC web space and our facilitation strategies to over 50 communities of educators, and to three university-based preservice programs.
Simard, D. & Lowry, B. (2002). Building a National PT3 Online Learning Community. In D. Willis, J. Price & N. Davis (Eds.), Proceedings of SITE 2002--Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference (pp. 1679-1680). Nashville, Tennessee, USA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).