Source: Professional Development in Education, Volume 39, Issue 2, 2013, Page 222-239
The present article focuses on a virtual research environment (VRE) and how it facilitated the networking of teacher educators participating in an Economic and Social Research Council-funded research capacity-building project.
Using the theoretical lenses of situated learning and socio-cultural approaches to literacy, participants’ ways of engaging with this technology are described, and the reasons why their existing technical expertise did not unproblematically transfer to the new technology are explored.
The authors argue that three main factors affected the use of the VRE, and in particular its wiki tool: the individual’s motivation to learn and to engage with (more) new technologies; the emerging dynamics of each research group as they developed shared working practices; and the institutional climates, which supported or discouraged the individuals’ engagement with both the technology and a regional Teacher Education Research Network that used this technology.
In conclusion, the authors suggest that successful engagement with new technologies in future academic communities of practice might well benefit from a shared commitment to agreed working practices across the group and the provision of brokerage and championing of the technology by key individuals who are in the position to inspire, motivate and support others.