Year of Publication

2012

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Education

Department

Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Dr. Janice F. Almasi

Abstract

The purpose of this formative experiment (Reinking & Bradley, 2008) was to describe the stages of development of an online platform that cultivated the growth of an online community of practice for teaching professionals. One hundred and forty-eight elementary school professionals participated in this study. Relying primarily on qualitative data, an iterative process of data gathering, analysis, and reflection was used prior to, during, and after the implementation of the intervention, LiteracyGrows.org, to describe performance and determine progress toward the pedagogical goal.

Qualitative data were coded for recurring themes derived from the following sources: interview data, user-profile information, Google Analytics, email correspondence and open-rates, webinar archives, heat map data, and a researcher reflection journal. Micro-analysis revealed that the success of the intervention was related to the usability and sociability of the platform. It was easy to navigate and appealed to teachers as a social networking tool that was only for education professionals where they could share information and attend live or archived webinars to extend learning. Reflection on a macro-level was used as a tool to further explore LiteracyGrows.org as a model of professional development. Specifically, how it was situated within the larger landscape of professional development and what it offered in terms of alignment between learning theory, epistemology, and model of professional development and communication, worldview, and knowledge. These constructs were important factors to consider in creating a platform for meaningful dialogue and professional growth to take place.

LiteracyGrows.org provides the foundation for future research to further explore how online professional platforms can be utilized to make professional development an on-going and sustainable component of support and growth for education professionals. The growth of online professional platforms by educators will also shift the conversation of professional development further away from delivery and more toward meaningful engagement by educators as active participants in their own knowledge construction. Recommendations include the continuation of the discussion of professional development in terms of epistemological alignment. This study highlights disconnect between teachers and their professional development experiences when expectations, perceptions, and understanding of what they are engaging in for growth do not align. Furthermore, reconstructing the way professional development is embedded within practice to better engage the 21st Century teacher using up-to-date technology.

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