Communities of Practice: Creating Learning Environments for Educators

Editors, Chris Kimble, Paul Hildreth and Isabelle Bourdon
Publisher, Information Age Publishing

As a two volume set:
Hard cover ISBN: 1593118678 , Soft cover ISBN: 159311866X

As separate volumes:
Hard Cover - Vol 1 ISBN: 1593118635 , Vol 2 ISBN: 1593118651
Soft Cover - Vol 1 ISBN: 1593118627 , Vol 2 ISBN: 1593118643

Volume 2, Chapter 8 - Distributing Teaching Presence: Engaging Teachers of English to Young Learners in an International Virtual Community of Inquiry


The rapidly expanding international field of Teaching English to Young Learners (TEYL) needs trained and experienced TEYL teachers. Thus, professionals entering this emerging field are seeking new ways of acquiring knowledge and skills appropriate in their cultural and national contexts. Online courses can provide unique spaces for collaboration and learning for working teachers and can facilitate the creation of communities of inquiry locally, regionally and internationally. The key to creating successful virtual Communities of Practice (vCoPs) of TEYL teachers is to build sustainable networks of professionals who disseminate their learning locally and continue to work and reflect together internationally. This chapter describes how participants from across sixteen time zones joined an online distance teacher development course - offered in both 2004 and 2005 with funding by the U.S. State Department's Office of English Language Programs (OELP). Using Garrison, Anderson and Archer's (2000) community of inquiry model to conceptualize the interaction among participants in the course, the instructor drew on culturally inclusive pedagogies to equip all participants as co-facilitators of the creation of new knowledge. Participants developed social and professional connections through open and critical discussion of teaching challenges in diverse educational and cultural contexts. Examples from the course illustrate how strategies to foster critical engagement and social connections promoted a shift in teaching presence from instructor to participants that set the basis for their subsequent teaching, training, and professional collaborations. The chapter concludes with recommendations for future research on Virtual Communities of Practice among English teachers.


Joan Kang Shin
Beverly Bickel