Exploring online communities to help foster the development of technology supported
Educators are realizing more and more that in order to prepare their students for our increasingly complex society, they need to adapt their teaching strategies. One avenue for this change in teaching practices is to offer access to blended learning environments. The purpose of this project was to explore online communities in order to help with the development of technology supported blended learning in School District No. 71 – Comox Valley. Working together with a fellow student at Vancouver Island University, a Google+ Community was designed to be a forum in which teachers and administration could share their resources, as well as their stories, related to blended or flexible learning. The project began with an in-depth look at blended learning and its ability to meet student needs followed by exploration of a variety of online communities to determine suitability to engage a dialogue about blended learning among teachers in the school district. Within a two month window (shortened due to a British Columbia teacher labour dispute), it was found that there was a clear desire to have a central mode of communicating online and sharing ideas about blended learning. The successes and limitations of the community were ultimately assessed as well as the future implications for the online community within the district. A small steering committee, created just for this purpose, decided in the end that the community should continue on as a place for all staff to share on ‘all’ learning, not simply blended learning, under the heading of ‘Share71’.