Teachers' professional development in a community
The goal of this article was to study teachers' professional development related to web-based learning in the context of the teacher community. The object was to learn in what kind of networks teachers share the knowledge of web-based learning and what are the factors in the community that support or challenge teachers professional development of web-based learning. The findings of the study revealed that there are teachers who are especially active, called the central actors in this study, in the teacher community who collaborate and share knowledge of web-based learning. These central actors share both technical and pedagogical knowledge of web-based learning in networks that include both internal and external relations in the community and involve people, artefacts and a variety of media. Furthermore, the central actors appear to bridge different fields of teaching expertise in their community.
According to the central actors' experiences the important factors that support teachers' professional development of web-based learning in the community are; the possibility to learn from colleagues and from everyday working practices, an emotionally safe atmosphere, the leader's personal support and community-level commitment. Also, the flexibility in work planning, challenging pupils, shared lessons with colleagues, training events in an authentic work environment and colleagues' professionalism are considered meaningful for professional development. As challenges, the knowledge sharing of web-based learning in the community needs mutual interests, transactive memory, time and facilities, peer support, a safe atmosphere and meaningful pedagogical practices.
On the basis of the findings of the study it is suggested that by intensive collaboration related to web-based learning it may be possible to break the boundaries of individual teachership and create such sociocultural activities which support collaborative professional development in the teacher community. Teachers' in-service training programs should be more sensitive to the culture of teacher communities and teachers' reciprocal relations. Further, teacher trainers should design teachers' in-service training of web-based learning in co-evolution with supporting networks which include the media and artefacts as well as people.
social network analysis
teachers' in-service training