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Building capacity for professional development through on-line discussion boards

, Teachers College, Columbia University, United States

Teachers College, Columbia University . Awarded


This dissertation is a narrative account of my professional experience initiating 5 educational discussion boards over a 14 year period, culminating with an in-depth study of a local virtual community of practice for K-12 educators of Instructional Technology. During my years as an administrator in the New York City Department of Education, I became interested in how teachers share practitioner's knowledge and recognized that discussion board technology had strong potential to aid teachers in their professional growth by taking advantage of peer-to-peer mentoring, reaching them in the context of their work and capitalizing on their expertise. I was an early adopter of using discussion boards from when they were first a novelty to now being absorbed in our everyday culture.

My specific focus for 2 1/2 years was on the Region 10 Instructional Technology Discussion Board in a large inner-city school region. It addressed my research interests of how a discussion board supports professional development, how the sense of on-line community acted as a causal agent, and what design features played an influential role. Information was collected about the Region 10 Instructional Technology Discussion Board's usage from postings, written participant surveys and personal interviews. Results showed that a local discussion board held a wealth of information and was a significant and meaningful vehicle to build capacity for professional development and that it influenced participants to alter their practice. I found that teachers, even if technologically savvy, need training to use the features of the application to its best advantage.

Evolving technology is the nature of the world we live in today. One should expect constant challenges due to the fast moving development of technology and the inability of a bureaucratic organization to effectively and efficiently support it. The repercussions of this can leave the best of plans and programs a "victim of progress". It is hoped that the reader will benefit from my experience and the conclusions drawn from this dissertation will inform the design and implementation of a sustained professional development model.


Franken, C.M. Building capacity for professional development through on-line discussion boards. Ph.D. thesis, Teachers College, Columbia University. Retrieved June 17, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ProQuest on October 23, 2013. [Original Record]

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