Understanding Teacher Participation in Online Communities: Why Do Teachers Want to Participate in Online Communities of Teachers?

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[Bloomington, Ind.] : Indiana University
This study examined reasons for teacher participation in three online communities of K-12 teachers with an aim of investigating methods to improve teacher professional development. To achieve the goal of this study, multiple data were gathered from four sources: (a) interviews with 31 members from the three online communities, (b) online postings, (c) member profiles, and (d) community guidelines. The findings of this study indicated that there were six reasons why teachers wanted to participate in the online communities of teachers: (a) sharing emotions, (b) exploring ideas, (c) seeking advice, (d) experiencing a sense of camaraderie, (e) combating teacher isolation, and (f) utilizing the advantages of online environments. These reasons are intrinsically connected to each other, so a holistic perspective is necessary to understand teacher participation in the communities fully. Moreover, the analysis of data indicated four components affecting teacher participation in the online communities. The components included community culture, safety, flexibility, and teachers' shared values and time. In conclusion, the findings suggested elements that should be considered when teacher educators create online learning environments in which teachers can freely share both emotions and knowledge.
Thesis (PhD) - Indiana University, School of Education, 2007
teacher learning, reasons for participation in online communities of teachers, teacher education, teacher professional development, community learning model, online communities
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Doctoral Dissertation