Journal of Computing in Higher Education

, Volume 13, Issue 2, pp 4–24 | Cite as

A community of practice: Web portals and faculty development

  • Patricia A. Carlson


ACCOMPLISHING CHANGE IN EDUCATION must start where learning begins: with the classroom teacher. The recent “Report to the Nation from The National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching in the 21st Century” was unequivocal in its message (Before It’s Too Late, September 2000). The way to improve learning in science, mathematics, and technology is to improve teaching. And better teaching can be achieved through better preparation, professional development, and working conditions for our nation’s teachers. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (with support from the Lilly Endowment) is constructing a Web portal dedicated to improving middle school science, mathematics, and technology (SMT) instruction. Essentially, this gateway emulates emerging corporate practices of knowledge management and process reinvention through information technology (IT). We expand the notion of “professional development” to include not only training in computer competency (explicit knowledge) but also mentoring in the higher-order understanding (tacit knowledge) necessary for meaningful integration of instructional technologies into the classroom. Our portal creates a “community of practice” for middle school teachers across Indiana to share experiences and to harvest the remarkable opportunities for improved SMT learning through Web-delivered simulations, visualization, modeling, access to live data, and to enable new collaborations, interactive learning, and alternative pedagogical approaches. Rose-Hulman faculty and digital media specialists serve as partners by providing ongoing advice, hosting special Web-conferences, and helping to author classroom modules.


portals professional development organizational change educational partnerships instructional technology 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Humanities and Social SciencesRose-Human Institute of TechnologyTerre Haute

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