Developing a Community of Practice among Educators: A Case Study of the National Professional Diploma in Education (NPDE) in South And Southern Africa
PCF3 // This paper will explore the ways in which a new in-service teacher development programme, the National Professional Diploma in Education (NPDE), has sought to develop a community of practice among educators in South and Southern Africa. // The NPDE is a contact-supported distance education programme which is aimed at the professional development of classroom-based educators who have received the equivalent of only one or two years of professional training. // The paper will consider the ways in which the NPDE qualification could and should have been able to make a significant contribution to developing a common vision of good teaching practice among education stakeholders at national, provincial, Higher Education Institution (HEI) and local school level through the manner in which the curriculum has been designed and is being delivered. The paper will attempt to evaluate the ways in which the potential for developing common understandings and practice has been realised in implementation. // The discussion will be structured in the following way: // • An overview of the NPDE programme and the Unisa curriculum in particular // • An evaluation of the NPDE design from the perspective of an epistemological framework for developing communities of practice // • Lessons of experience from the macro management level // • Lessons of experience from the meso level management/implementation interface // • Lessons of experience from the micro level: a limited analysis of the impact of the Unisa NPDE on the 2300+ classroom-based educators on the programme through a triangulation of data supplied from student evaluations, student responses to formal assessment and limited classroom observations. // • Conclusions and recommendations for building communities of practice among educators in South and Southern Africa.