Communities of Practice and Professional Learning Communities are both collaboration-based tools of sharing information and knowledge. As described in the lecture for this week, these two principles, aside from a couple linguistic differences, are almost identical in application and usage. The idea behind both the CoPs and the PLCs is for people of common interest and that share a common bond/goal to come together to contribute different perspectives and concepts in the aforementioned area of interest.
Being as we are in a Program focused on teaching and the higher education classroom, CoPs and PLCs can be highly utilized, highly effective modes of information sharing. With the classrooms we teach in morphing daily, being able to share tricks, lesson plans, extrinsic motivations with fellows teachers that share a common goal can only be beneficial to students and teachers alike. Cranston (60) furthers this by saying, “A professional learning environment, however defined, often has as one of its purposes the development of the kinds of adult relationships that can support individual change in classrooms across a whole school.” This point focuses on being able to come together as one strong, cohesive unit and then individually taking the ideas of others back to the classroom to maintain a systematic, school-wide goal.
In the first M.ed course I took, which is presumably the first class we all took in this program, we were asked to create a new, unique idea for our blogs. Up until this week of this class, I was very proud of the premise I had created, thinking that perhaps my ideology was groundbreaking. My concept, which mind you I never concocted due to my lack of technological know-how, was to create a website where teachers from across the country could share ideas, tips and improvements to help fellow teachers. As you can see, I am thoroughly embarrassed at myself for thinking I had done something new and innovative. Not only am I a decade behind, my lack of computer savvy made it an impossible task to complete. I am, however, slightly pleased to know that my thoughts aren’t completely unfathomable. Huang (p78) talks of blogs and the sharing of information, “Nowadays many researches try to use the trend of Web 2.0 to push forward a new learning model, for example, applying Blogs in learning and conducting knowledge sharing through blogs.” Sighhhhh. That was all the air coming out of my innovative balloon.
As mentioned before, CoPs and PLCs are collaborations of minds coming together for the common good and to help everyone improve individually. To add to this collaboration is the combination of learning, teaching and technology that are all vitally important when focusing on CoPs and PLCs. The basis behind these cooperative learning theories is to help teaching, which in turn helps our students learn. Adams (p28) describes Pioneer School in California and the success they have, ” Pioneer introduced the professional learning community model, in which teachers meet regularly, setting goals and committing to a shared educational vision…Teachers found common ground, sharing ideas and teaching strategies to give their students the best education possible.” When you taek into consideration expansive nature of technology in the classroom, it is easy to see the needed collaboration between teaching, learning and technology. Technology is such a massive tool for a modern classroom that it must be incorporated into any CoP or PLC session, to share ideas in technology that students grasp, enjoy and learn from.
Question to Ponder:
In the spirit of the PLCs, I would love to open forum to hear different strategies or tips that you all as teachers have found to be most promising and successful?
Additional Resource: Bill Gates speaking on different ways to help teachers improve
Adams, C. (2009). The power of collaboration. Instructor, 119(1), 28-31
Cranston, J. (2011). Relational trust: The glue that binds a professional learning community . [Article]. Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 57(1), 59-72
Huang, J. J. S., Yang, S. J. H., Yueh-Min, H., & Hsiao, I. Y. T. (2010). Social learning networks: Build mobile learning networks based on collaborative services . [Article]. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 13(3), 78-92