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A Critical Review of the Literature on Electronic Networks as Reflective Discourse Communities for Inservice Teachers

CIERA Report #3-014

Yong Zhao and Sheri Rop
Michigan State University

CIERA Inquiry 3: Policy and Profession
Are electronic networks effective tools for creating and sustaining reflective teacher comunities?

Over the past two decades, computer mediated communication (CMC) technologies have been used in a variety of efforts aimed at fostering teacher learning and teacher collaboration. This study is an attempt to closely examine the literature on the use of electronic networks for creating reflective teacher communities. We found that many teacher networks pursued the goal of building learning and reflective communities for teachers, and much was expected out of these networks, both as a practical solution to the stubborn problems in teacher professional development and as a new agent to create what is difficult to realize in face-to-face situations. However, we found a general lack of rigorous research on the subject. Little is known about the effectiveness of CMCs for teacher learning. Few researchers have seriously examined the degree to which these networks indeed were "communities" that promoted reflective discourses.

University of Michigan School of Education

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This paper was originally presented at the Annual Meeting of American Education Research Association, New Orleans, LA, April, 2000.