Using the power of research to inform ICT integration in education

Posts tagged ‘professional learning community’

How productive is learning in networked environments?

Alevizou, Panagiota; Galley, Rebecca and Conole, Grainne (2012). Collectivity, performance and self- representation: analysing Cloudworks as a public space for networked learning and reflection. In: Dirckinck- Holmfeld, Lone; Hodgson, Vivien and McConnell, David eds. Exploring the Theory, Pedagogy and Practice of Networked Learning. New York: Springer, pp. 75–97.

It has been argued that processes of participatory culture, afforded by social media and technologies blur the boundaries between creative production and consumption, and open up novel, public spaces for, and styles of, networked learning; social spaces that promote collaborative knowledge building, and shared assets. However, empirical evidence on the application of such technologies for supporting teaching and learning in higher education contexts is only slowly emerging. The chapter explores these concepts in the context of analysis of emergent patterns of behaviour and activity in Cloudworks, a specialised networking site, and a public space for aggregating and sharing resources and exchanging ideas about the scholarship and practice of education, with particular emphasis on the relationship between ICTs and teaching and learning. Combining notions of self-representation and collective intelligence with dimensions of expansive learning, activity patterns, performance and expression within the site are analysed. The chapter contextualises findings through a critical lens and offers insights that can shape the future research agenda for productive learning in networked environments.

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How can Libraries adopt ‘Information in Context’ structures to facilitate organizational learning?

Somerville, M.M.& Howard,Z. (2010) Information in context: Co- designing workplace structures and systems for organizational learning. Information Research, 15(4).

This paper discusses an ‘information in context’ design project at Auraria Library in Denver, Colorado which aims to collaboratively create organizational structures and communication systems with and for library employees. This project resulted in several of the co-designed knowledge initiatives being implemented within Auraria Library to enhance communication, decision making and planning systems. These included both face to face and technology enabled initiatives such as such as ‘brown bag’ lunches to a new wiki based intranet system. This project advances professional practice through better understanding how to create workplace contexts that cultivate individual and collective learning through situated ‘information in context’ experiences. An appreciative framework was developed which values information sharing and enables knowledge creation through shared leadership.

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How can Virtual Social Learning Environments support Communities of Practice?

Keleher, Patrick and Hutchinson, Steven (2010). Communities of Practice, a social discipline of learning: nurturing a physical and virtual social learning environment. In: World Association of Co-operative Education International Conference on Work Integrated Learning, 3-5 Feb 2010, Hong Kong, China.

Communities of Practice are powerful way of thinking about and exploring the social discipline of learning. Rigorous models for informational and cognitive aspects of learning are well defined, but social dimensions of learning are not so well explored nor are the practices involved in establishing an appropriate learning environment. A workshop conducted by Etienne Wenger was specifically structured to model the practices to establish a social learning ‘space’ and provided an opportunity for participants in the professional disciplines of health, social care, education and business to engage in social learning. The workshop enabled a telling and recording of people’s own learning stories, through individual and group face-to-face encounters and further non-face-to-face communication encounters (within the workshop group and the world) through a range synchronous and asynchronous electronic media, video, wikispace1, blog and twitter. This is a powerful process by which to explore the development of professional practices in a Work Integrated Learning or Practice Based Learning context and illustrates the manner in which transitions or boundary encounters arise and are navigated as individuals explore the ‘landscape of professional practice’.

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How do professionals manage their personal professional networks?

Kamakshi Rajagopal, Desirée Joosten–ten Brinke, Jan Van Bruggen, and Peter B. Sloep (2012) Understanding personal learning networks: Their structure, content and the networking skills needed to optimally use them, First Monday, Volume 17, Number 1 – 2 January 2012

Networking is a key skill in professional careers, supporting the individual’s growth and learning. However, little is known about how professionals intentionally manage the connections in their personal networks and which factors influence their decisions in connecting with others for the purpose of learning. In this article, we present a model of personal professional networking for creating a personal learning network, based on an investigation through a literature study, semi–structured interviews and a survey.

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Do people collaborate more effectively using computers than face to face?

Wadhah Amer Hatem, Alan S Kwan & John C Miles (2012) A Comparison of Face to Face and Computer Mediated Collaboration, Advanced Engineering Informatics, February 2012

In the construction industry, the need for collaboration between people who are geographically remote is a reoccurring feature. The traditional way of dealing with this is collocation but this is expensive and disruptive and so increasingly, use has been made of remote collaboration using computational technology over networks. To assess whether or not such computer mediated collaboration is effective, a carefully controlled set of experiments has been undertaken using ten groups of two people who are required to work on a partially developed design task. The work is undertaken using computer mediated communication supported by a 3D CAD package. As a control, the same people have also undertaken a similar design task working face to face. The results show that, for the type of design task involved, people collaborating using computer mediated communication, at worst are as effective as people working face to face and probably are slightly more effective.

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How can Library Media specialists be leaders in Professional Learning Communities?

Leslie E. Brantley (2011) The Leadership Role of the Library Media Specialist in a Professional Learning Community, a research paper submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Library Science and Information Services in the Department of Educational Leadership and Human Development University of Central Missouri

The Professional Learning Community (PLC) concept has been adopted by school districts as a model for professional development. A PLC requires strong leadership to function. The library media specialist is a natural servant-leader in school districts. The problem under study is what leadership role does the library media specialist play in a PLC? This is a review of the literature of PLC leadership and the role of the library media specialist in the PLC. The research demonstrates how the library media specialist fulfills a servant-leadership role in the daily structure of the school. The adoption of the PLC concept provides an opportunity to elevate the servant-leadership role of the library media specialist through collaboration, instructional leadership, and in the creation of a learning commons.

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How does social capital affect individual performance in academic collaboration?

A Abbasi, L Hossain, R Wigand (2011) Social Capital and Individual Performance: A Study of Academic Collaboration, Arxiv preprint arXiv11122460

Studies on social networks highlight the importance of network structure or structural properties of a given network and its impact on performance outcome. The empirical validation of the association between network structures and performance has been well documented in a number of recent studies. One of the important properties of this network structure is referred as “social capital” which is the “network of contacts” and the associated values attached to these networks of contacts. There are very few systematic empirical studies suggesting a role of co-authors, as social capital in their scientific collaboration network and their effect on performance. In this study, our aim is to provide empirical evidence of the influence of social capital and performance within the context of academic collaboration. Results suggest that research performance of authors is positively correlated with their social capital measures. This study highlights the importance of scholars’ social capital characteristics on their performance suggesting stronger links to more powerful contacts will lead to better performance and, therefore, their respective professional social network shows indicative outcomes to evaluate and predict the performance of scholars. It further highlights that the Power-diversity Index, which is introduced as a new hybrid centrality measure, serves as an indicator of power and influence of an individual’s ability to control communication and information.

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Can Google Apps support a Professional Learning Community?

Barbra Kaimuloa Bates (2011) Using Google Apps in Professional Learning Communities, Educational Technology University of Hawaii at Mānoa Kailua-Kona, Hawaii USA

Being an educator presents challenges, especially when communication is a barrier. Google Apps provide collaboration tools which allow teachers to create, share, collaborate and publish work within their Professional Learning Community (PLC). All documents and revisions saved on Google Apps are easily accessible for each collaborator, eliminating This project sought to implement an instructional design module that can serve as an orientation for new users of Google Apps, so that teachers will be able to gain an understanding of the tools and adopt them into their PLC. Voicethread presentations were embedded into the web-based modules so users would be able to view step-by-step procedures as a tutorial for Google Apps. The project was delivered in a hybrid approach, both synchronous and asynchronous, since teachers’ technology abilities vary. Ten public school teachers participated in and tested the web-based module and its effectiveness was evaluated in a survey completed by participants after they finished the module. Post survey results indicated positive reactions to using Google Apps as a collaboration tool in their PLC, although they have expressed concern that without total “buy in” amongst their colleagues, the collaboration tool would not be effective.

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Why Do Teachers Participate in Self-generated Online Communities?

Jung Won Hur, Thomas A. Brush (2009) Teacher Participation in Online Communities: Why Do Teachers Want to Participate in Self-generated Online Communities of K–12 Teachers?, Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 41(3), 279–303

The purpose of this study was to examine reasons for teacher participation in on- line communities of K–12 teachers. The authors interviewed 23 teachers from three self-generated online communities and analyzed more than 2,000 postings in those communities. The findings indicated five reasons for participation: (a) sharing emotions, (b) utilizing the advantages of online environments, (c) combating teacher isolation, (d) exploring ideas, and (e) experiencing a sense of camaraderie. In conclusion, the findings imply that when designing teacher professional development programs, more emphasis needs to be placed on teachers’ emotional sharing and promotion of self-esteem.

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How can the diffusion of ICT in Schools be better Understood Using the Concept of Social Capital?

Kenneth A Frank, Yong Zhao, Kathryn Borman (2004) Social Capital and the Diffusion of Innovations Within Organizations: The Case of Computer Technology in Schools, Sociology of Education Volume: 77, Issue: 2, Publisher: American Sociological Association, Pages: 148-171

Although the educational community has learned much about better educational practices, less is known about processes for implementing new practices. The standard model of diffusion suggests that people change perceptions about the value of an innovation through communication, and these perceptions then drive implementation. But implementation can be affected by more instrumental forces. In particular, members of a school share the common fate of the organization and affiliate with the common social system of the organization. Thus, they are more able to gain access to each others’ expertise informally and are more likely to respond to social pressure to implement an innovation, regardless of their own perceptions of the value of the innovation. This article characterizes informal access to expertise and responses to social pressure as manifestations of social capital. Using longitudinal and network data in a study of the implementation of computer technology in six schools, the authors found that the effects of perceived social pressure and access to expertise through help and talk were at least as important as the effects of traditional constructs. By implication, change agents should attend to local social capital processes that are related to the implementation of educational innovations or reforms.

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How do Systems Hinder or Engender Change? The case of Professional Learning Communities

Joan E. Talbert (2009) Professional Learning Communities at the Crossroads: How Systems Hinder or Engender Change, Springer International Handbooks of Education, 2009, Volume 23, Part 3

My observations stem from 10 years of research in the Center for Research on the Context of Teaching (CRC) at Stanford University. Scholars at CRC have been studying initiatives to create teacher PLCs in schools and to change school districts into learning organizations. All are struggling to get it right – to achieve the vision of teachers collaborating to continually improve student achievement. We find that system conditions that support the work of PLCs – such as a comprehensive education plan, integrated learning resources, local knowledge resources, robust data and accountability system, extended time for teacher collaboration, and leaders committed to PLCs – are not sufficient to engender change in professional culture and teachers’ work lives. This chapter addresses the question of why teachers respond negatively to PLC initiatives that aim to increase their professional judgment and accountability. First, I discuss core principles of a PLC and how they challenge typical school culture. Then I describe two paradigmatic approaches to PLC development and how participants typically respond to each approach. And finally, I draw lessons from school district experience with PLCs and identify the obstacles that must be overcome if this approach to improved student learning outcomes is to be successful.

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How can technology be used to facilitate work in professional learning communities?

Feger, S., Arruda, E. (2008) Professional Learning Communities: Key Themes from the Literature, Review conducted by The Education Alliance at Brown University under a subcontract from Hezel Associates, LLC, general evaluation contractor for PBS TeacherLine.

Over the past twenty-five years, the educational literature has devoted considerable attention to the topic of professional learning communities (PLCs). A search of the literature on PLCs reveals a broad range of publications from guidelines for organizing PLCs, to research on their implementation. However, rigorous research and evaluation studies of PLCs are limited in number. Much of the practitioner literature on PLCs has described the processes and stages that occur along their developmental trajectory. As learning communities evolve as a strategy for professional development on a larger scale, there is a small but emerging literature that looks critically at PLC models and their impact on teaching practice and student learning. Collectively, the literature on PLCs is a rich and promising body of work that offers valuable opportunities for further exploration.

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How do school cultures influence technology transformation?

Kitchenham, A. D., (2009) School cultures, teachers, and technology transformation, Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology (2009) 35(2) Spring

This article outlines a recent study on school culture and technology adoption. Adapting Hargreaves’ (2003) model of school cultures, research findings are presented on three schools involved in a study on teacher transformation using educational technology to explain how each school represents a separate school culture and school regime. Each school is profiled to demonstrate, through direct quotes from the participants, how a specific school culture or regime can reflect varying degrees of transformation, and subsequent technology adoption.

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