Online teacher communities

By junykwilfred | Mar 1, 2016

1. How important is it to have online teacher communities? Are they needed or not? Why or why not?
2. What would/should be the salient features of online teacher communities? Do they have to be regional/subject specific/ private-government teachers/ etc ?
3. What are the roles that teacher communities play - are there aspects that online platforms can address and not physical communities?
4. If online communities are essential, how can one go about creating them - do we bank on social media platforms like Facebook or do we need community spaces on teacher specific websites?

ajitadeshmukh's picture

1) Yes they are. Absolutely. Mainly because they give the teachers a window to different backgrounds and happenings in the same profession. They are the most effective way of knowing different, novel approaches to the same topic,; increase collaboration and puts one in constantly learning mode.
2) Salient feature should be only of regular activity. There should be no criteria or division in my opinion. A teacher is a teacher. And every teacher, irrespective of the institutional affiliation can contribute to the learning cohort.
3) That of the mentor and motivator.
4) It is better to use the existing social media platforms for the sheer simplicity of functioning and also more visibility.

junykwilfred's picture

Thank you Ajita.
Today on an entirely different blog (about fountain pens) I came across this discussion on the purpose of online communities.

"For a while now, I’ve been thinking about why a fountain pen community exists at all — why we aren’t all just independent enthusiasts doing our own thing, as with many other hobbies. I’ll expand on my answer in a future post, but I believe that the central driver of this is the need for information. There is so much information necessary — about the brands, the products, the retailers, etc. — that it’s often impossible to make an informed decision as an online buyer. So we try to source information from others and determine whether or not a particular purchase will be a sensible decision. Not necessarily because vendors or products are unreliable, more because we’re not sure what will suit our preferences. There’s a strong sense of reciprocity at work: most of us only get into the hobby with the help of others, and we feel it is appropriate to pay it forward by sharing what we know with others. At first, we are communicating basic information with those who have come into the hobby after us. With time, we have more unique experiences and that gives us knowledge which will be valuable to others, both beginners and experts.

The purpose of the the community is therefore to facilitate the flow of information, from those who have it to those who can use it. And the various platforms that we use to communicate — FPN, reddit, podcasts, Youtube blogs, twitter, Facebook groups, Slack rooms, etc. — all essentially exist to help facilitate that information flow." [http://www.peneconomics.com/blog/2016/2/14/the-craven-submission-of-the-...

I think it also points certain purposes and aims regarding online teacher communities too - which is peer learning, support and motivation [as you rightly pointed out]

I think we need to explore this space a lot further - there is very little study on online spaces of and for teachers, especially in a context as varied as India.

ajitadeshmukh's picture

Absolutely. There is a need to explore, which I am currently exploring as a part of my Ph.D research in Education on the same lines. I very strongly believe that it could be open up a unique avenue if handled properly.

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