Institutional Factors for Supporting Electronic Learning Communities
Keywords:electronic learning community, online learning community, K-12, virtual school, community of practice
AbstractThis study was designed to explore how the electronic learning community (eLC) process at an established state virtual high school (SVHS) supported new and veteran online high school teachers through the communities of practice (CoP) framework. Specifically, this study focused on the institutionally-driven nature of the eLC process, using Wenger’s CoP framework to analyze institutional factors that influenced the eLC process. Case study methods, including observation, interviews, and document analysis, were used to provide a rich and dynamic analysis of the eLC process in light of what research says about preparation and support for quality online teaching. While the institutionally-driven nature of the eLC process posed some barriers to alignment with the domain and community elements of the CoP framework, case study participants expressed that the eLC process impacted their practice and connected them to colleagues with which they could collaborate and problem solve. The use of strategies such as valuing the work of eLCs, removing barriers, and connecting the eLC process to the organizational strategy served to facilitate alignment with the CoP framework and overcome some of the potential disadvantages of an institutionally-driven eLC process.
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