A qualitative case study of an electronic learning community as a community of practice for new and veteran online teachers

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jayme Nixon Linton (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Barbara Levin

Abstract: This qualitative case study used Wenger's (1998) communities of practice (CoP) framework to analyze how the institutionally-driven electronic learning community (eLC) process at an established state virtual high school (SVHS) supported new and veteran online teachers in quality online teaching. Components of the eLC process were analyzed according to elements of the CoP framework, which provided a theoretical lens through which to analyze data gathered through interviews, observations, and document collection. Further, Lave and Wenger's (1991) concept of legitimate peripheral participation (LPP), which describes the participation of new CoP members as they move toward full membership, was used to examine the participation and perspective of new eLC members at SVHS. Three eLCs within the English department were selected for observations and document analysis. Seven interview participants included the chief academic officer, two instructional leaders, two veteran teachers, and two new teachers at SVHS. Findings revealed several areas of alignment between the eLC process and the CoP framework, particularly with Wenger's (1998) notion of practice within a CoP as a duality between participation and reification. The institutionally-driven nature of the eLC process was found to support new and veteran online teachers in quality online teaching while at the same time posing a barrier to alignment with the CoP framework. Elements of LPP were evident in case study data, particularly in the way the eLC process granted new members access to resources and to the practice of other members. Other elements of LPP were less visible in the eLC process, such as becoming and conferring legitimacy. Recommendations were made to increase alignment between the eLC process, the CoP framework, and LPP for new eLC members, including the implementation of a mentoring system to provide additional support for new online teachers and use of the TPCK framework to focus on alignment between content, pedagogy, and technology in designing professional learning for online teachers. Further, recommendations were made to guide researchers in the selection of topics and methodologies for future research.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2014
Communities of practice, Electronic learning community, Online instructor, Online learning, Online teaching, Professional development
Communities of practice $z United States $v Case studies
Web-based instruction $x Evaluation
Teachers $x In-service training $z United States $v Case studies
Teachers $x Training of $z United States $v Case studies

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