Extending Content-Focused Professional Development through Online Communities of Practice

Summer 2008

Source: Journal of Research on Technology in Education. Volume 40, Issue 4; Summer 2008. p. 517-537
(Reviewed by The Portal Team)

This mixed method case study provides insights about how the professional development of middle school teachers is facilitated through their participation in content-focused online communities of practice.

Purpose of the Study

The purposes of the present study were to gain insights about the following:
*In what ways did this experience influence teachers' sense of efficacy and their ability to plan for  and implement technology in their curricular areas?

*What was the focus of the interactions among teachers while they participated in the online community of practice?

*How did teachers perceive the participation of their school leaders in the online community?


Two middle schools located in the same school district in the mid-south were selected through homogeneous purposeful sampling. The schools were similar demographically
and were chosen because of their ongoing commitment to professional development.
Participants from each school included principals, and sixth, seventh, and eighth grade teachers of core subjects such as English, language arts, math, science, and social studies, as well as resource teachers.

A key finding from this research reveals that the online community provided teachers with enhanced opportunities to share ideas, to discuss issues, and to make new connections with colleagues as well as with their principal. In addition, teachers gained curriculum-based knowledge, developed enhanced self-efficacy with respect to implementing technology, and collaborated on the development of interdisciplinary curriculum units.

Updated: Nov. 03, 2008