Blog site http://techanddata.blogspot.com/
As faculty in the Education Program, a key component of the work Allison and I do is outreach to K-12 schools in Washington State. We currently facilitate professional development projects with K-12 math teachers in remote, high-needs areas. Through this work, we have learned there are many geographically isolated groups of teachers with limited contacts to colleagues or resources for teaching mathematics. We believe that establishing online professional learning communities using new emerging technologies may help support and foster K-12 mathematics teachers in rural areas.
We want to explore the technological, pedagogical, and social aspects needed to form a successful online community of practice. The pedagogical questions that inspired us to apply for the elearning pilot are:
· What are the pedagogical best practices in creating and establishing an online community of practice?
· What are mathematically productive and socially supportive norms of online learning communities?
· How is the pedagogy of teaching and learning modeled in an online forum?
· What is required of facilitators to foster an online community? What is required of participants?
· How do teachers participate differently face-to-face compared to online communities?
There are several ways we anticipate this work could transform learning for the broader community. The first bullet point in the UW Bothell mission statement includes serving the at-large community by providing access to our institution. The K-12 teachers we work with and communities we work in have no access to any institution of higher education. Because of the diverse landscape of Washington state they are separated by geographic barriers which make it difficult to reach. Establishing a working online community would enable UW Bothell to fulfill its mission and transform learning of mathematics for the teachers and the students they teach. By the end of the project, we want to be able to identify key factors in the success or failure of creating an online community of teachers. We anticipate contributing to research of online communities with an article on this pilot study and the factors which enabled and constrained its success.
This pilot study is the beginning of renewed line of research for Dr. Angotti, who is nationally recognized as a leader in incorporating technology in math education. It will allow Dr. Hintz to develop a new line of research and to collaborate with Dr. Angotti as she develops technology expertise. The first phase of the research would involve immersion in the current literature surrounding successful online communities and would involve the pilot study outlined above with teachers we are currently working with.
One particular technology we would like to explore is voicethread (http://voicethread.com/). We wonder how Voicethread could offer opportunities for building a community through shared video of teaching and learning episodes. As a teacher selected and shared a video clip, the community could engage in conversation around that teaching episode. Drawing on the video club research of Sherin & Linsenmeier (2009), we would explore ways to use online classroom video excerpts in a closed community to engage in productive discussions about teaching and learning mathematics. We would expand the work with teachers’ blogs about their own and others’ video, independently and/or in a blog circle and study how teachers and facilitators interact in that environment.