10 SES 11 A, Teachers as Agents of Change and Mentors
The aim of this paper is to investigate the characteristics of the participation of education professionals (teachers, teacher educators, school heads…) from 50 European countries in a fast developing online platform and community of practice (Lave and Wenger, 1998) seen as a practice-based organisation of learning (Barab et al., 2004) developed under the umbrella of Council of Europe Pestalozzi programme for teacher development.
The programme is based on the intention to empower education professionals to contribute to constructing a more humane, inclusive Europe, i.e., to develop democratic participation, respect for diversity and enhanced social cohesion (CoE, 2016), through their practice. Participants meet once - sometimes twice - in face-to-face workshop(s). They then continue the work online during the period of their training and beyond if they chose to integrate long-term participation in the community. It seems that such online arrangements of the genre being developed by the Pestalozzi Programme is a most sustainable mode of operation for developing the content and skills in question. This is especially interesting in the current education context in which teacher education suffers from cuts in resources (Zeichner, 2006) and in which demands on teacher competence are increasing (Ragnarsdóttir & Jóhannesson, 2014; Reynisdóttir & Jóhannesson, 2013). It is therefore of paramount theoretical and practical interest to understand the way it operates and may succeed.
The paper presents a case study of education professionals who are members within the online professional community engaged through conversation (Pask, 1976; Laurillard, 2002), and loose informal activities, with peers and moderators. Participating members share, through the daily workings on the platform, stories of what happens in the seminars, courses they attend or organise, or in the classroom they teach.
The approach is one of blended-learning (BL) (Bonk & Graham, 2006), whichrecognises the need to develop and foster collaborative professional development (Fullan and Hargreaves, 2016) in a distributed environment and international context(Hildreth et al., 2000). A particular focus will be on situations when members try out new methods in their teaching by ”transforming the training into informed and competent actions through their practice” (Mompoint-Gaillard & Rajić, 2014).
Though the case study of one discussion thread (DT) occurring on the Pestalozzi Community of Practice, we examine what are the conditions that foster the most volitional and high quality forms of motivation in members and how members’ participation relates to this. Thus the study will examine different the types of interactions, and patterns of participation occurring amongst members, and moderators in one particular discussion thread. Because moderators play a very important role in establishing helping members to manage both the navigation of the technical environment and reach and understanding of the content and activities of the platform, the analysis in this paper will involve researching some principles and strategies for maintaining activity and encouraging members to participate online.
The theoretical underpinning in our analysis is Deci & Ryan’s Self-determination theory (SDT) (2000; 1985) maintaining that: “an understanding of human motivation requires a consideration of innate psychological needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness”.
The research questions focus on members’ activity on the platform and on discernable factors that shape, or not, its characteristics and sustainability. What can we say about the features of member's activity on the platform? What may determine the extent to which members remain active on the platform after their initial involvement in face-to-face training? Can some of the findings be related to how members evaluate the usefulness of the activity and also perhaps on emotional and personal benefits they acquire through participation that pushes them to stay active and possibly grow their collective “knowledge-in-use” (Mompoint-Gaillard & Rajic, 2014).
Barab, S., MaKinster, J., & Scheckler, R. (2004). Characterizing system dualities: Building online community Designing for virtual communities in the service of learning (pp. 53-90). Bonk, C. J., & Graham, C. R. (2012). The handbook of blended learning: Global perspectives, local designs. San Fransisco: John Wiley & Sons. Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(4), 77–101. Council of Europe. (2016). Presentation leaflet of Directorate general of Democracy. Strasbourg: Council of Europe publishing Retrieved from http://www.coe.int/t/democracy/Source/DGII_Leaflet2015_en.pdf. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. . New York, NY: Plenum. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The “What” and “Why” of Goal Pursuits: Human Needs and the Self-Determination of Behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11(4), 227–268. Fullan, M. & Hargreaves, A. (2016). Bringing the profession back in: Call to action. Oxford, OH: Learning Forward. Hildreth, P., Kimble, C., & Wright, P. (2000). Communities of practice in the distributed international environment. Journal of Knowledge management, 4(1), 27-38. Laurillard, D. (2002). Rethinking University Education: A conversational framework for the effective use of learning technologies. London. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Mompoint Gaillard, P., & Rajic, V. (2014). Professional Development on an International Scale: Council of Europe-Pestalozzi Programme Virtual Community of Practice. Paper presented at the E-learning at work and the workplace from education to employment and meaningful work with ICTs, Zagreb. http://bib.irb.hr/prikazi-rad?&rad=704356 Owston, R., York, D., & Murtha, S. (2013). Student perceptions and achievement in a university blended learning strategic initiative. The Internet and Higher Education, 18, 38-46. Pask, G. (1976). Conversational techniques in the study and practice of education. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 46(1), 12-25. Ragnarsdóttir, G., & Jóhannesson, I. Á. (2014). Curriculum, crisis and the work and well-being of Icelandic upper secondary school teachers. Education Inquiry, 5(1), 43–67. Reynisdóttir, Á. H., & Jóhannesson, I. Á. (2013). Fleiri vindar blása: viðhorf reyndra framhaldsskólakennara til breytinga í skólastarfi 1986-2012 [ Increasing changes and challenges: school development 1986-2012 in the eyes of experienced upper secondary school teachers]. Netla – Veftímarit um uppeldi og menntun, 1–22. Zeichner, K. (2006). Reflections of a university-based teacher educator on the future of college-and university-based teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 57(3), 326-340.
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