Friday, September 12, 2008

ECER 2008 - ‘How to make It fly?’ Engaging teachers In Virtual Collaboration

Live blog from a session at ECER 2008.

Presented by Sanna Rimpilainen, Alastair Wilson and Donald Christie from the University of Strathclyde and Don Skinner from the University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom.

Reported a common problem - initial enthusiasm for an online forum was not sustained. Their investigation revealed common issues that explained the lack of engagement. There were for example technical difficulties and the system was not as easy to use as the researchers hoped. Also teachers felt the aims of the forum were unclear. Some thought it was to be a resource they could access rather than a resource they would create.

However, teachers did report a concern ("fear"?) of contributing to a policy forum in case they "dropped the school in it". Teachers are concerned about saying what they are doing is good practice and more importantly, that their practice was good enough to share. Also, schools are different and at different stages of development.

How improve? Open to a wider group? There will always be more lurkers than active participants, so more people accessing increases the likelihood of an active forum that will bring the lurkers back. Also, starting school focused groups where he users already know each other and have more in common.

In answering questions: Admitted they didn't know each other implies the need to arrange socialisation activities.

[It seems a shame that no time was given for online socialisation. It seems participants were expected to jump in and start educational discussion. The online socialisation stage in Gilly Salmon's model is important. - DM]

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