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Article
Publication date: 29 June 2020

Yumiko Murai and Hiroyuki Muramatsu

While it is particularly important that professional programs help teachers become members of a community of practice, especially in crisis situations such as the COVID-19…

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Abstract

Purpose

While it is particularly important that professional programs help teachers become members of a community of practice, especially in crisis situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a lack of research about strategies to effectively encourage the development of a community of practice and to support teachers’ transformation of their way of teaching. Thus, this paper aims to report on lessons learned from a blended professional development (PD) program for elementary and middle school teachers in Japan focused on computer programming education. In particular, the authors explored how application of the creative learning principles in the blended teacher PD may have helped to nurture a community of practice among teachers in Japan, and how the creative learning principles may be a valuable framework for designing online or blended teacher PD to support teachers’ transition into emergency remote education.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper reports on the lessons learned from two iterations of blended teacher PD situated within a larger design-based research project on applying creative learning pedagogy in teacher PD. Creative learning is a learning approach focused on engagement in personally meaningful projects by tinkering with materials and learning from peers. A total of 26 teachers and coaches participated, all of whom work in elementary or middle schools across Nagano prefecture in Japan. Participant experiences were evaluated based on a pre-survey and a post-survey conducted before and after the in-person kick-off camp; observation notes taken; a final report submitted by each teacher; a debrief meeting at the end of the program; and semi-structured interviews with three selected participants after the program concluded. For this paper, the authors focus on two participants who fully and actively engaged in the program, and they introduce their stories to highlight the outcomes from the PD.

Findings

The results highlight how a blended PD designed to support creative learning of teachers provided teachers with opportunities to gain help from other teachers and cultivate their expertise. The results also illustrated that how a community of practice emerged from the PD program, providing teachers with moral support when they tried new lesson designs. This paper offers several recommendations for designing professional learning experiences for instructional designers and professional developers that incorporate remote learning technologies.

Originality/value

While an increased number of studies have shown the values of online and blended communities of practice for teacher PD, there are still limited insights on different strategies to support teachers in transforming their teaching practices. They generally do not provide teachers with opportunities to continue learning with and from one another beyond the program itself. This study examined the teachers’ experiences in a unique PD that implemented a creative learning approach into a blended learning environment for teachers.

Details

Information and Learning Sciences, vol. 121 no. 7/8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2398-5348

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