‘My Work Got Lost in the Computer’: Establishing a Teacher Professional Learning Community Through Digital Skills Training

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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)

Improving learning outcomes for students is central to most education initiatives in developing countries. In South Africa, many national education policies related to teacher education are designed to improve the quality of teaching as well as create an en vironment that enables peer and lifelong learning among teachers. The Department of Higher Education’s Integrated Strategic Planning Framework for Teacher Education and Development (ISPFTD) i , for instance, provides for the establishment of Professional Lea rning Communities. This is closely aligned with the concept of communities of practice in the ‘Teacher Futures’ programme ii , an initiative supported by the Commonwealth of Learning (COL). COL’s ‘Teacher Futures’ is inspired by United Nations SDG 4 and suppo rts institutions and governments to develop teacher professional development programmes that assure quality teaching and encourage collaborative learning among teachers. The national Department of Basic Education (DBE) and COL are implementing this program me in the Eastern Cape in partnership with the University of Fort Hare and ten high schools within the same district. The main objective is to develop and offer a two

tier training programme in digital learning for teacher educators and education leaders o n one hand, and school teachers on the other. Programme activities so far have included entry

level digital learning for approximately 100 teachers as well as the initiation of online and on

site communities of practice. Teachers have been able to embark on a more pedagogically focused course around using digital resources in teaching.
The paper discusses the challenges in establishing communities of practice to supp ort in

school teacher learning. These challenges include unstable, yet prohibitively expen sive, connectivity, coupled with low levels of acc ess and technophobia . This paper intends to document these early South African experiences of what has worked and what has not , in the Eastern Cape Province that might prove valuable for programmes in other countries. // Paper ID 193

Commonwealth of Learning (COL),Teacher Education,eLearning
South Africa