Collaboratively Guiding Teachers Online

By Peta
Encouraging teachers to explore the use of online environments and tools in their collaborative reflective process supports the development of their skills in a non-threatening environment (Dole, 2005; Freiermuth, 2002; Hutchison & Colwell, 2012) leading to changes in teacher pedagogy, environments of learning and, in turn, improving student outcomes (Ng, Yuen, & Pan, 2009; Parr & Ward, 2006; Riel & Sparks, 2009). Linking this with a newly established mentor program in a regional school builds on the reflective culture that is being established and opens up the possibilities that are available through the incorporation of multi-media platforms.
The development of the wiki “Looking Glass Collaborations” as a professional resource attempts to scaffold the integration of online tools into the pedagogy of teachers, both experienced and beginning, in such a way that it seems a natural progression. By introducing and utilising a variety of applications that are available online within the implementation of the resource it is envisaged that users will collaboratively experience the benefits of using the tools, while at the same time identifying their support networks for successful implementation in the classroom. Taking advantage of the online medium reduces the constraints of time which is a common problem associated with skill development within the workplace (Carr & Chambers, 2006; Imants, 2002; Riel & Sparks, 2009; Sung, Chang, Yu, & Chang, 2009). Teachers are better able to participate at times that are suitable for them, prompting deeper interactions in the learning community established.
Providing teachers with a framework to build connections collegially in a common goal of professional development is an important endeavour for regional schools to retain teachers. Their skills are cooperatively developed within the context, allowing for ongoing, targeted development to occur. The wiki is able to evolve with the needs of the users to reflect the knowledge acquisition and requirements of the group. Enrolling users as co-authors is an important contributing factor in the success of this project. The success of the project relies of the commitment of users to actively engage with both the resource and each other; virtually, in reality and collaboratively.

References

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Dole, S. (2005). Collaborating online: Learning together in community (Vol. 107, pp. 1573-1575). OXFORD: BLACKWELL PUBLISHING.
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Hutchison, A., & Colwell, J. (2012). Using a wiki to facilitate an online professional learning community for induction and mentoring teachers. Education and Information Technologies, 17(3), 273-289. doi: 10.1007/s10639-011-9159-7
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Sung, Y. T., Chang, K. E., Yu, W. C., & Chang, T. H. (2009). Supporting teachers' reflection and learning through structured digital teaching portfolios. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 25(4), 375-385. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2729.2009.00312.x