Interconnecting networks of practice for professional learning

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The article explores the complementary connections between communities of practice and the ways in which individuals orchestrate their engagement with others to further their professional learning. It does so by reporting on part of a research project conducted in New Zealand on teachers’ online professional learning in a university graduate diploma program on ICT education. Evolving from social constructivist pedagogy for online professional development, the research describes how teachers create their own networks of practice as they blend online and offline interactions with fellow learners and workplace colleagues. Teachers’ perspectives of their professional learning activities challenge the way universities design formal online learning communities and highlight the potential for networked learning in the zones and intersections between professional practice and study.

The article extends the concepts of Lave and Wenger’s (1991) communities of practice social theory of learning by considering the role participants play in determining their engagement and connections in and across boundaries between online learning communities and professional practice. It provides insights into the applicability of connectivist concepts for developing online pedagogies to promote socially networked learning and emphasising the role of the learner in defining their learning pathways.