Creating a ‘Connected’ Community? Teachers’ Use of an Electronic Discussion Group
by Neil Selwyn — 2000
As Information and Communications Technology (ICT) becomes more commonplace in educational settings the use of computer mediated communication (CMC) between teachers is increasingly being seen as a valid form of professional dialogue and support. Indeed, the promotion of online discussion groups as ‘virtual meeting places’ for teachers has formed a central part of the UK government’s £1billion drive to make ICT use part of day-to-day practice in British schools. However, amidst the enthusiasm for creating ‘virtual communities’ of teachers, little is known about how educational professionals are using such resources in practice. To this end the present paper reports on a study of UK teachers’ use of an established online discussion group over a two-year period. It shows that, although the online forum was being used widely both as an information and empathetic exchange resource, many of the claims of establishing collectively focused virtual communities of teachers remain exaggerated as the forum was limited by a number of caveats associated with CMC groups in general.
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