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Establishing Communities of Practice for Effective and Sustainable Professional Development for Blended Learning

Establishing Communities of Practice for Effective and Sustainable Professional Development for Blended Learning
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Author(s): Terrie Lynn Thompson (University of Alberta, Canada) and Heather Kanuka (University of Alberta, Canada)
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 19
Source title: Effective Blended Learning Practices: Evidence-Based Perspectives in ICT-Facilitated Education
Source Author(s)/Editor(s): Elizabeth Stacey (Deakin University, Australia) and Philippa Gerbic (Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-296-1.ch008

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Abstract

The growing need for professional development to help university instructors with the adoption of online teaching is being propelled from several directions. But innovative professional development initiatives, intended to help university instructors better leverage technology, particularly through blended approaches, are not without tensions. The objective of this research study was to delve into these tensions. Directors in several North American professional development centres were interviewed in order to explore how their programs supported the integration of technology into teaching. Findings suggest that there is a tension between what professional development centres are doing and what they would like to do regarding: (1) deeper integration of technology into their own teaching practices as a centre, including blended approaches; and (2) how to nurture communities of practice, comprised of university instructors focused on teaching-related issues in higher education, such as adoption of blended learning strategies. Four themes emerged: uncertainty about how best to leverage technology and blended learning, questions regarding a professional development centre’s role in cultivating communities, the importance of being strategic, and desire for scalability. The chapter concludes with policy implications and recommendations for future development of effective and sustainable professional development practices.

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