UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Blended communities of practice and teacher learning in a rural school district Haller, Brooke


This study investigated the impact of educators’ participation in communities of practice through a socio-constructivist lens, examining Connected Learning as a case study of collaborative professional development. The research explored collaboration in relation to teachers’ thinking and learning and investigated how cross-district collaborative opportunities foster professional development across a large geographic school district consisting of five small rural communities. Critical to understanding the layered-ness of Connected Learning was the exploration of embedded projects and investigation of emerging technologies related to teacher collaboration and learning. This research examined the experiences of eight teachers working within three Connected Learning projects in Gold Trail School District’s Connected Learning communities of practice, illustrating job-embedded professional development within a small, rural school district. This research was conducted via a qualitative case study methodology, and data was analyzed using grounded theory. Several key themes emerged in the data in key areas. Teachers shared the effects of collaborative learning through stories of experiences and changes in their thinking over time. Four key themes were identified through the thematic and comparative data analysis processes: the impacts of teaching alone and teaching with others; collaboration as professional development; shifting teacher practices and mindsets; and working within networked communities of practice, particularly in rural districts and across large geographical distances. Findings suggest that emergent and relational understandings of collaborative, situated professional learning honour the complexity inherent in teaching that, when examined and productively addressed and recognized as professional development, can allow for individual and collective teacher learning.

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