Engaging Participation in an Online Community of Practice (OCoP)

10:00 - 11:45am EST
Presented at: AAA 2014

The concept of communities of practice (CoP) describes a social theory of learning, and has taken on new life in recent years as a prescriptive idea implemented in educational and other professional contexts as a way to foster peer-facilitated learning (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1998). The Center for Applied Linguistics, in collaboration with the University of Oregon, has developed an OCoP,Education Connections, providing opportunities for teachers to collaborate with and learn from colleagues.Education Connectionsfocuses on implementation of standards-based instruction, including the nearly-nationwide Common Core State Standards (CCSS), capitalizing on a new era of shared practice and addressing a key need for teachers to feel better prepared to work with emergent bilinguals (Gándara, Maxwell-Jolly, & Driscoll, 2005).

Our study investigates how to create an effective CoP in a virtual space with teachers concurrently participating in a nationwide cultural shift in educational practice. Similar to face-to-face CoPs,Education Connectionsparticipants collaborate in a process of collective learning as they share knowledge, discuss meaning, and engage in simultaneous exchanges. An OCoP facilitates long-term support as it allows its members to frequently visit and connect with others on the platform. Through these exchanges, participants are able to learn from group discourse as they share their experiences and receive feedback from others. Findings from our study demonstrate that through alignment of CoP practices with online interactive capabilities, OCoPs foster interaction and facilitate peer learning, creating positive changes in educational practice for the benefit of our nation’s linguistic minority students. 

This presentation is part of the session: Dealing with Dilemmas: Teachers’ Talk, Action, and Knowledge