Synchronous online collaborative professional development for elementary mathematics teachers
AbstractMath is often taught poorly emphasizing rote, procedural methods rather than creativity and problem solving. Alberta Education developed a new mathematics curriculum to transform mathematics teaching to inquiry driven methods. This revised curriculum provides a new vision for mathematics and creates opportunities and requirements for professional learning by teachers. Conventional offsite, after school, or weekend professional development is typically “sit and listen, maybe try on Monday”. Professional development that is embedded, responsive, and personalized is known to be more effective at changing teaching practice. Alberta teachers are geographically dispersed making online professional learning a desirable alternative to on-site workshops. As access to and use of the Internet gains momentum in schools across the country, opportunities for collaborative, online professional development become more viable. The online professional development in this hermeneutic study maps on to the new vision promoted in Alberta’s math curriculum, and addresses the challenge of a distributed teacher population. Thirteen geographically dispersed participants, including 10 teachers, a PhD mathematician, and two mathematics education specialists, collaborated in an online professional learning community to build knowledge for teaching mathematics. This paper describes and interprets the shared experiences of learners within an online, synchronous learning community that focused on discipline rich, focused inquiry with mathematics. Findings show that the nature and quality of the mathematics task impacted the quality and nature of the online interaction. Mathematics problems that incorporated easily drawn symbols and minimal text worked best in the online collaborative space. Members of this learning community discovered how to assert their identity in the online environment.
Copyright (c) 2013 Krista Francis, Michele Jacobsen
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence. The copyright of all content published in IRRODL is retained by the authors.
This copyright agreement and use license ensures, among other things, that an article will be as widely distributed as possible and that the article can be included in any scientific and/or scholarly archive.
You are free to
- Share — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format
- Adapt — remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially.
The licensor cannot revoke these freedoms as long as you follow the license terms below:
- Attribution — You must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.
- No additional restrictions — You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.