Facilitating Communities of Practice in Teacher
Universidad Nacional, Costa Rica; e-Learning Lab, Aalborg University,
e-Learning Lab, Aalborg University, Denmark,
In this paper, we describe a project for teacher professional development
addressing the introduction of information and communication technology
and problem and project-based approaches into teaching and learning in
the Universidad Nacional, Costa Rica (UNA). The project supports the argument
that learning as part of a community of practice can provide a powerful
and useful model for teacher professional development and that problem
oriented project pedagogy and information and communication technology
can be used to shift from a model based on delivery of information towards
a pedagogy favouring learning as knowledge construction through collaboration,
projects and problem orientation.
The research is informed by a socio cultural perspective on human learning
and development, where learning is regarded as a social process. It draws
on the relation between the concepts of communities of practice, information
and communication technology, problem oriented project pedagogy and teacher
professional development. Our interest is to analyze what are the conditions
to nurture a change oriented community of practice in order to transform
teacher’s practice, using technology and problem oriented project
based pedagogy as means to foster the change. We are designing a learning
community with teachers from several campus of the university. This learning
community is the first step to cultivate the desired community of practice.
The learning environment is being designed as a framework for flexible
and blended learning, regarding teachers as the main agents of their professional
development, supported by an environment rich in challenges and interactions
around the philosophy and methodologies of problem and project based learning.
Design-based research is the methodology chosen to help us in the process
of understanding the conditions that can affect the emergence of a community
of practice within the learning community, and what kind of scaffolding
is necessary to sustain it. The whole process is established in three
main phases: designing for change, experiencing the change and understanding
the change; in each of these, specific design, facilitation, and support
strategies are being planned to help grow and sustain the community.
According with our goals to contribute to the process of transforming
teaching practice and to foster a culture of problem orientation, projects,
collaborative learning and sharing knowledge, the design proposed in this
paper includes fostering relationships between teacher participants, exploration
of a domain of knowledge in which participants share an interest, and
development of innovative practices that support change and further learning.
The project envisions that teacher participants will form a self-sustaining
community of practice within which they will improve their pedagogical
and technological knowledge through connecting and learning from each
other, through discussing common problems and issues, sharing good practices
and collaborating on projects. The project will further more provide insights
into the conditions to cultivate a community of practice, the social dynamics
of the community, the technology as a learning and knowledge sharing infrastructure,
and the organizational support of UNA.
Full Paper - .pdf