Teachers’ fleeting encounters in online professional development communities blended with strong school communities of practice
The intersections between virtual and physical communities provide an important but largely unfamiliar, undefined and overlooked context in which to examine teachers’ professional learning. Recent work in this field, for example Finlay (2008) and Slaouti (2007), signals the need to better understand the ways teachers blend formal online study with the situated learning which occurs within everyday participation in communities of practice. As Laferriere, Lamon and Chan (2006) state “despite much enthusiasm given to the use of technology in education, the potential of e-learning in transforming teacher learning is neither sufficiently explored nor well understood.” Research focusing on the intersections between work and study, and particularly the role of online learning for professional development, represents an area of growing interest. This is true not only in teacher education but in the wider field of professional learning, development and support (Stacey & Gerbic, 2009; Maor & Volet, 2007). This study examines teacher learning supported by elective study in a graduate diploma in information and communication technology programme offered by a New Zealand university. Participants were predominantly studying part-time while working in schools.