AERA 2013, San Francisco, CADevelopinga professional learning networkfor effective ICT-supportedteaching and learningApril 30, 2013Gyeong Mi Heo, Ph.D. (CEFRIO, Canada)Alain Breuleux, Ph.D. (McGill University, Canada)Building Community through Telecollaboration
AbstractThis paper introduces Building Community throughTelecollaboration (BCT) Network that consists of twoschool-board professional learning networks (PLNs) forteachers, describes the key features and developmentprocesses of the PLNs based on the conceptualframework of communities of practice (CoPs) (Wenger,1998), and discusses considerations and implications fordeveloping PLNs for teachers, particularly at the schoolboard level.
Conceptual Framework Communities of Practice• “Groups of people who share a concern, a set of problems, or apassion about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge andexpertise in this area by interaction on an ongoing basis.”(Wenger et al., 2002, p.4) Professional Learning Networks• “Shared beliefs, values, and vision; Shared and supportiveleadership; Supportive structural conditions; Supportive relationalconditions; Collective learning; and Peer sharing.” (Bausmith &Barry, 2011) Teacher Knowledge• Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) (Mishra& Koehler, 2006)
Research Questionsa) What are the characteristics of the BCT Network ineach school board-based on the conceptual frameworkof CoP ?b) What are the differences in the key features anddevelopment processes between two school boards?c) What are some of the successful factors, challengesand implications for developing a PLN at the schoolboard level?
Building Community throughTelecollaboration (BCTN)40-50 teachers from9 School boardsDesign research(Iterative process)ResearchersConsultants40-50 teachers from9 School boards2 school boards25-30 teachers/SBResearchersConsultantsCycle lead teachersParticipatory designResearch(Lead teachers)Participatory designResearch(Two school board-based PLNs)ResearchersConsultantsSB1 Lead TeamSB2 Lead TeamPhase 1(2007-2009)Phase 2(2009-2011)Phase 3(2011-2013)ListservLive ClassroomBCT Blog & WikiBCT SAKAI portalLive ClassroomBCT WebsiteE-MailBCT Website & E-MailSB1: SB portal & WikiSB2: SB WebsiteZenliveParticipantsCharacteristicsLeadership teamICT tools
Leadership team in each school boardPLNBCT-SB1(1)BCT-SB2Participants 25 teachers from 6 schools(including 10 BCTteachers)29 teachers from 9 schools(including 9 BCT teachers)LeadershipteamA SB1 Technology-Pedagogical consultant(Former lead teacher)Two lead teachersA principalA SB2 Technology-Pedagogical consultantA IT CoordinatorPedagogy (Process) -driven approachTechnology (Tools)- driven approach(1)SB is the acronym for School Board.
Methods Participatory design research approach (Heo & Breuleux, 2011). Data collectiona) Semi-structured Individual interviews: Six individual leaders ofboth school board leadership teams.b) Appreciative inquiry survey: At the end of each F2F session,participating teachers feedback was collected in terms of threetopics, such as Benefits, Even better if, and Suggestions &Questions.c) An online focus group interview: The leaders from both schoolboard leadership teams.d) Field notes: BCT F2F meetings, activities of BCT Leadershipteam members, and student classroom activities in both schoolboards.
Results: Emerging conceptions frominterview data The concerns on the teachers part.Not knowing where to start, how to fitit in and see it as something elseadded on to already busy schedule,probably in isolation, not having theother teachers there to be a mentor toguide her, not knowing about whattools to use to fit her purpose. I thinkoften teachers are unclear on how tointegrate them, they just dont knowwhat they could do or taking that stepthat becomes part of the whole lessonplanning process. (SB1 consultant) The biggest problem we address isstaying with the teacher until they feelcomfortable with their technologicaldevice of choice. Teachers are scaredof technology as much as they arescared of the technology not workingin critical moments or they reach apoint they dont understand in front ofthe class. and what we do is simplyleave out those fears (SB2 consultant)
[Example] Vignette 3.Jane, a cycle-2 teacher, wants to do a collaborative project with Blabberize inher class. She is not experienced enough to facilitate student group activitieswith ICT. What issues/challenges should be considered as she designs andimplements her project?The first thing she would want to do is totalk to somebody who has alreadydone the project before, perhaps thatteacher or the Technology-Pedagogyconsultant in the board would comein and model the lesson and look atexamples with the students…It would be important to have her awareof what the tools would be chosen forthe project, I think the process duringthe project is also important.Understanding that the technology isa final step, having to do all of thereading and writing with the students,before they get the time in front of acomputer, thats a key with anytechnology (SB1 consultant).First I will tell her not to use Blabberize.I love Web 2.0 but we have one bigproblem with it that isbandwidth......... Let’s look atsomething even more simple, let’slook at Moviemaker, which almostcan do everything Blabberize can do,but you can have children createmedia artifact of good quality andperhaps better quality thanBlabberize because it is inside thecomputer. So we are not going toworry about bandwidththere............... Let’s say they want tocreate a CD of all their children’sefforts, Blabberize is impossible whilewith movie maker you’ll get a niceCD (SB2 consultant).
Results: Highlighted features in twoSB Networks (1/2)Depending on the vision and mission, infrastructure, and availableresources, however, the SBs have taken different approaches todeveloping the PLNs. First, the members of the SB Leadership teams were different. SB1Leadership team consisted of teachers who have had extensiveteaching experiences and were BCT lead teachers in Phase 2 whileSB2 Leadership team members came from different backgroundsand experiences. In terms of the domain of practice, hence, for teachers effectiveintegration of the ICT into classroom, SB1 emphasized more a"pedagogy first, then technology" in relation to teachers’ classroompractice while SB2 gave priority to the teachers comfort level withICT (e.g., ICT hands-on session).
Results: Highlighted features in twoSB Networks (2/2) For the development of community, SB1 has encouraged theteachers to interact and collaborate with others through mentoringand modeling of classroom practice by the lead teachers, whereasSB2 has tried to identify and train potential Go-To teachers forfacilitating collegial support. Each SB Network produced Resource Binders and distributed themto participating BCT schools and teachers. The Resource Binder ofSB1 consisted of the working sheets related to Internet safety &privacy activity, research & information literacy activity, and digitalcitizenship activity while that of SB2 included tutorials of various ICTtools. In addition, the BCT Network at large also developed an E-booklet as a guidebook for effective ICT-supported learning that wasbuilt through the iterative processes of "participation" and"reification" (Wenger, 1998) of the practice.
Further issues for developing aPLN(1) Which knowledge should come first,technology or pedagogy? Or is it rather thatthey are mutually constituted in a dialecticmanner? If it is indeed the case, what are thepractical implications for the design oflearning activities in the PLNs?(2) For facilitating online interaction, which oneshould come first, either building trust andsocial relationship or increasing teacherstechnical proficiency?* Please scan the QR code to leaveyour responses.
Conclusions (1/2)Based on the findings from the BCT Network, some key considerationsfor implementing a PLN for teacher professional development aresuggested along the following factors proposed by Zhao and Rop(2001):a) Technology. Infrastructure and technology issues (e.g., reliableInternet access and IT support) should be dealt with at the schoolboard level. Teachers technological proficiency is required but itmust be subsumed under pedagogical competency.b) Motivation. The roles of lead teachers/Go-To teachers fosterenhanced levels of teacher leadership and teacher ownership of theBCT Network. The lead teachers/Go-To teachers can represent theteachers’ actual needs and expectations and reflect their practicalsituations. The authentic participation and leadership and design ofthe PLN are crucial.
Conclusions (2/2)c) Project time frames. To ensure sustainability of the PLN, effectiveways of transferring ownership and accountability to the schoolboards should be accomplished by maintaining intimaterelationships with the school board administrators and staffs andapplying available resources at the school board.d) Time to participate. Time constraints are a major concern forteachers to engage in a PLN. This issue is related to teachermotivation. To encourage teachers voluntary interaction andengagement, a PLN needs to build collegial trust, create a safe,respectful, and supportive group environment among members anddevelop Group Guidelines in relation to their own participationthrough group consensus.e) Project goals. As a CoP for teachers, the shared visions and goalsamong members are crucial. The teachers also need to setindividuals’ personal goals depending on their levels of competencyand commitment.