5. Learning community building: lessons learned from an online professional development program for in-service teachers

G. Zhou, S. Varnhagen, S. Kasprzak

Abstract


The importance of learning community building for professional development has been widely recognized, particularly for online professional development. This paper reports the efforts of an online professional development program to help in-service teachers form learning communities. Evaluation data, collected during the progress of this program and nine months after its completion, show that learning communities were difficult to initiate and even more difficult to maintain in an online learning environment. The lack of social context in an online environment and the participants’ preference for face-to-face communication are the most significant factors for the difficulty of online community building. Suggestions for future online professional development are highlighted in building stronger learning communities.

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