Information technology teachers’ perceptions of the benefits and efficacy of using online communities of practice when teaching computer skills classes

Abstract

This research explores the ways in which Information Technology (IT) teachers experience the use of online communities of practice (CoP) in teaching a computer course called Computer Skills 2 (WRCO2). This course is the second of two computer skills courses in the Work Readiness Program (WRP) running at a Higher Education Institution in the Middle East (HEIME). This course focuses on the use of prior foundational knowledge acquired in the first course to develop understanding and proficiency in the use and application of computer skills and concepts. A phenomenological approach has been chosen to help understand and explore the qualitatively different ways in which particular teachers experience the use of online CoP as a social and collaborative learning system. Two specific questions were considered: (1) “How did teachers experience the use of online CoP in teaching the computer skills 2 classes?” (2) “What benefits, if any, have been derived from using online CoP in teaching this course?” Data collection in this study was conducted using a digitally recorded unstructured interview, which allowed the participants to voice their experiences. As a theoretical framework, the basic elements: domain, community and practice were considered (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1998; Wenger, McDermott, & Snyder, 2002). The data explicitation process (as defined and used by (Giorgi, 2009)) resulted in the identification of a number of themes. Similar themes were then grouped together to form four central themes representing the essence of the original ones. The central themes were: (1) to promote student collaboration; (2) to redefine the teacher’s role; (3) to encourage student engagement; and (4) to manage the teachers’ increased workload. This was followed by a discussion of the benefits and challenges arising from using online CoP in teaching the course, as well as the description of the limitations within this study.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    As stated by Besar (2018), situated learning theory maintains that successful education requires learning that is surrounded by reliable contexts of practice, in which students are asked to gradually work on more complicated tasks within social communities.

  2. 2.

    EBSCO is an important and strong provider of research databases, e-books and e-journals. It references top citation indexes including Web of Science, Scopus, PsycINFO and SciFinder.

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Correspondence to Nafeth Al Hashlamoun.

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Al Hashlamoun, N., Daouk, L. Information technology teachers’ perceptions of the benefits and efficacy of using online communities of practice when teaching computer skills classes. Educ Inf Technol (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10639-020-10242-z

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Keywords

  • Technology enhanced learning
  • TEL
  • Online communities of practice
  • CoP
  • Students collaboration
  • Students’ engagement
  • Phenomenological research
  • Phenomenology
  • Qualitative research
  • Thematic analysis