Learning with their Peers: Using A Virtual Learning Community to Improve an In-service Biology Teacher Education Program in Brazil

May, 2014

Source: Teaching and Teacher Education 44 (2014) 44-55
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The purpose of this study was to explore whether the use of virtual learning community (VLC) associated with an online teachers' professional development program enable Biology teachers to share knowledge with their peers.

The participants Biology teachers enrolled at teacher development program's courses.
The teachers, who selected to participate in this study had to fulfill several inclusion criteria: They had to be Biology teachers who taught in schools (6-12 grades) in the state of Rio de Janeiro. They also had to answer a questionnaire that characterized the use they made of the internet at the beginning of the program's courses.

The findings reveal that teachers that joined the this community intensely shared knowledge both on Biological contents and didactic experiences. They seldom used the VLC-Bio for social purposes.

The authors also found that the effective participation in the collective construction of knowledge on how to teach Biology topics occurred mainly through interaction of teachers with their peers. The findings demonstrate that the dialog held among teachers in forums and on the messages posted in the VLC-Bio was the most popular way to share knowledge.

The authors argue that although the teachers mostly exchanged resources authored by third parties, the didactic resources shared were apparently chosen on the basis of teachers' prior experiences.

The authors argue that the use of collaborative tools by teachers for didactic purposes therefore went beyond getting knowledge or resources on the internet.

They conclude that collaborative learning represented an intellectual effort developed jointly by teachers, becoming an important process of collective professional development. 

Updated: Oct. 18, 2018