Development of E-Communities of Practice in Malaysian Smart Schools: To What Extent does it Measure up to the Criteria of Wenger’s Key CoP Dimensions

By Siew Ming Thang, Puvaneswary Murugaiah, Hazita Azman, Radha Nambiar and Najihah Mahmud.

Published by The Learner Collection


Professional development programmes that include teacher collaboration can help teachers meet their professional needs and control their professional lives. They can voice their needs and expectations to peers who share similar experiences. Moreover, teachers can discover new teaching roles and opportunities, develop new skills and find motivation in being a member of a group (Burbank & Kauchak, 2003, Hawkes, 2000). With the affordances provided by Web technologies, the potentiality of online communities of practice (CoPs) as a means of improving teacher professional development has become a reality and is gaining popularity. The Online Continuing Professional Development for Teachers (e-CPDelT) project aimed to develop three online CoPs; that is, English, Mathematics and Science communities among twenty Malaysian Smart school teachers. This paper undertook a comparison of the key dimensions, as expounded in Wenger’s (1998) CoP framework of one of the three cohorts, which is the English cohort. The findings revealed that the English cohort did not measure up to the criteria required for a successful CoP although the key CoP dimensions were present. The paper further analysed the focus group interviews using the CoP dimensions as a framework to identify the reasons for this phenomenon.

Keywords: Online Communities of Practice, Teacher Professional Development, Online Learning, Teacher Learning

Prof. Siew Ming Thang

Professor and Chair of School of Language Studies and Linguistics, School of Language Studies and Linguistics, The National University of Malaysia, Bandar Baru Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia

Thang Siew Ming is a professor and the Chair of the School of Language Studies and Linguistics at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. She obtained her PhD from the School of Education, University of Nottingham in 2001. Her areas of professional interest are CALL, Learner Autonomy, Distance Education and Learning Styles, Approaches and Learning Strategies.

Puvaneswary Murugaiah

Lecturer, School of Distance Education, University of Science Malaysia, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

Puvaneswary Murugaiah is a lecturer in the School of Distance Education at Universiti Sains Malaysia. Currently, she is pursuing her PhD in the School of Language Studies and Linguistics at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. Her areas of professional interest are TESOL, Distance Education and Strategic Learning.

Prof. Hazita Azman

Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, School of Language Studies and Linguistics, The National University of Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia

Hazita Azman is the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities and a Professor in the School of Language Studies and Linguistics at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. She holds a PhD in Applied Linguistics from the University of Western Australia. Her areas of professional interest are Multiliteracies and Education and CALL.

Dr. Radha Nambiar

Associate Professor, School of Language Studies and Linguistics, The National University of Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia

Radha Nambiar is an Associate Professor in the School of Language Studies and Linguistics at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. She has completed a number of research projects on Learner Needs, Language Learning Strategies, Academic Literacy and Bilingual Reading. She has presented and published papers in Learning Strategies and Academic and Bilingual Literacy both locally and internationally.

Najihah Mahmud

School of Language Studies and Linguistics, The National University of Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia

Najihah Mahmud is a Graduate Research Assistant in the School of Language Studies and Linguistics at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. Currently, she is a student of M.Phil in English Language Studies at the same school.

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