Learning2gether Episode 302 - Ali Bostangioglu details his research into Webheads in Action
Sunday November 22, 2015 - 1500 UTC / GMT
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What is it about?
This Hangout on Air is with Ali Bostangioglu, who is returning as promised to report to us on the full details of his study of Webheads in Action, for which he is soon to be awarded his PdD. As many of you know, Ali interviewed a number of Webheads in the data-collection phase of his study, but was unable at the time to divulge his hypothesis nor the true purpose of the questions in the interviews. In this session, we hope that he will pull back the veil and reveal how the study has come together to support his hypothesis.
This event will take place in Hangout on Air. As usual with L2g Hangouts, you can join us in the HoA at a link that will be provided just prior to the event (once Ali and I are both in the HoA). You can also follow the stream at its YouTube link and interact with us in our Chatwing text chat space.
Here is Ali's abstract for his case study:
English as a foreign language teachers’ technology professional development through online communities of practice
An online community of practice (OCoP) is a group of people, who are brought together by a shared interest and with the aim of deepening their understanding of an area of knowledge through regular interactions facilitated by computer mediated communication (CMC) tools.
In response to critiques of current professional development (PD) approaches such as workshops and cascade training which are conducted in short periods of time allowing for only limited follow up and feedback opportunities, OCoPs can be beneficial and a viable alternative for teacher PD. This is because an OCoP potentially provides teachers with those elements of effective PD, cited in the literature, such as collaboration, opportunities for mentoring, and sustainability over time.
However, research on adopting an OCoP approach for teacher PD has been limited. Therefore, conducted within the context of English as a foreign language (EFL) teaching, the present study aimed to 1) investigate EFL teachers’ PD in learning how to integrate technology in their teaching and 2) identify what factors contribute towards creating successful OCoPs.
The Webheads in Action (WiA) community has been chosen as a case for this study since WiA has previously been established to be an OCoP in which EFL teachers from different countries participate. A mixed methods research strategy was adopted which combined questionnaires and interviews. Initially, the questionnaire was administered to 69 members of the community. 24 of those members (4 core, 9 active, and 11 peripheral) participated in follow up interviews. Additionally, members’ interactions in the public group page were collated over a period of nine months in order to triangulate findings.
The results suggested that member participation in the community led to perceived technology professional development (TPD) of EFL teachers and that the more a member participated and collaborated with other members, the higher their reported TPD was; a finding which underlined the importance of co-construction of knowledge in this process.
Two major themes emerged in relation to factors affecting member participation in this long standing OCoP. The first one was identified as dynamism inherent in the community which manifested itself as new topics that kept members interested and participating, a flow of continuous member recruitment to the community and leaders who responded to community needs when necessary. The second was the creation of a sense of belonging to the community which was achieved through various means such as having an initiation process, providing an inclusive community environment, fostering trust through community norms, and meeting other members face-to-face.
In conclusion, this study showed that OCoPs can be a viable alternative form of teacher PD and highlighted the importance of not only the professional but also the socio-affective dimension for designing and sustaining OCoPs.
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