TEL Communities

Helen Caldwell and Anna Cox | View as single page | Feedback/Impact
TEL Communities
Definitions: Theoretical background relevant to technology facilitated social learning
Research evidence: Systematic literature reviews on the theme of technology facilitated social learning

Example 7: Students making a context for social learning through mobile devices

Mobile devices imageThe PGCE Top Up Programme is delivered through blended learning to in-service teachers who hold QTS through the Graduate Teacher Programme and are working to gain a PGCE.  

Learning Intentions: To provide a learning context through which teachers across a range of physical locations can undertake professional development and build academic skills to complement their existing teacher qualification.

Overview:40 students located in  the UK, Australia, New Zealand and a number of european countries have joined the programme.  They attend either 3 face to face learning events or take part in 3 skype learning events alongside blended learning to complete 2 30 credit modules at level 7 which investigate personal professional practice.

Learning Outcomes: Alongside the formal learning environment provided by the university VLE teachers have formed local and wider alliances and working groups to support their learning and to share practice.  This has manifested through Whatsapp groups primarily and additional skype contact between students to support their learning and development. Groups formed and shared information and ideas, through discourse and exemplification.  Issues were addressed and resolved through this sharing and individuals were encouraged to be confident to access the support of remote tutors.

Description and outcomes:  Following a skype event a subgroup of the whole cohort began to communicate through a dedicated  Whatsapp group and to share information and respond to one another’s questions and queries. It also became clear that individual interactions with the tutor were also shared, supporting a high level of confidence in the programme despite the fact that the students and tutor had only met virtually.  Some clear self structured online learning was clearly taking place and this enhanced the learning opportunities available to individuals and the group, a self generated community of practice developed which facilitated engagement at a high level (Johnson, 2001).   

(Source: Caldwell and Heaton, 2016)

Summary of benefits

  • The online space provided by the programme leader was expanded to a community of practice by participants beyond the institution

  • Peer learning took place between teachers in practice on different continents, in different educational climates and teaching in different phases and subject areas  

  • As in example 6, learning opportunities were amplified as the collective learning potential of the group exceeded that of the individual working alone

And it was clear that technology enabled fluid learning journeys across a combination of locations, times, online spaces and social settings based loosely on the higher education provider network.