Online communities of practice as vehicles for teacher professional development
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The affordances offered by modern Internet technologies provide new opportunities for the pre-service and in-service training of teachers, making it possible to overcome the restrictions of shrinking resources and geographical locations and to offer high quality learning experiences to geographically dispersed teachers. The focus of this chapter is the question of how information and communication tools made available online could be effectively exploited to build and study network-based services with the aim of fostering online communities that promote teacher learning and development. The chapter presents an overview of the main experiences gained from a study which investigated the forms of collaboration and shared knowledge building undertaken by a multinational group of teachers participating in EarlyStatistics, an online professional development in statistics education targeting European elementary and middle school mathematics teachers. Findings from the study provide insights into the factors that may facilitate or hinder the successful implementation of an online community of teaching practitioners.