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Why Participate in Peer-to-Peer Online Teacher Communities

Posted by Letswalo Marobane on 04 March 2020 7:20 AM CAT
Letswalo Marobane photo


In my previous blog post, I alluded to the role that online communities can play to re-inspire educators in their chosen practice. 


In this blog, I’ve gone into some of the details and motivated why teachers should consider participation in peer-to-peer online teacher communities:

  • Emotional support- Teaching can be exhausting and emotionally draining. It requires teachers to be emotionally involved. Many experience frustration due to workload and helping students manage non-academic issues that impact classroom learning.  When working in low-income areas, the stress that students experience outside of school demands a much more intense and systemic intervention. 

This can take its toll on teachers and it may lead to teacher burnout or even worse, teachers leaving the profession they love. According to the research by Jung won Hur and Thomas A. Brush: When teachers share their emotions in the online community, others may appreciate the post and share similar experiences. Participating in an online community to share both negative and positive emotions related to teaching. This may fuel emotional support and a variety of solutions to issues relating. 


  • Less Teacher isolation- “some teachers may be the only ones teaching a particular subject in a school. The resulting sense of isolation can be quite overwhelming as the pressure for creating engagement and effective lessons falls on the shoulders of those people alone as they have no immediate way of sharing resources with others: According to OECD Reviews of Evaluation and Assessment in Education. Sometimes. isolation is not a matter of location. It is a matter of whether there are available people who can understand specific issues. While teachers should not feel forced to collaborate to avoid any “contrived congeniality,” having the opportunity to share ideas and information combats professional loneliness and frustration which improves personal morals and professional satisfaction.
  • Explore New Ideas- Regardless of your teaching experience, participating in online communities helps teachers switch up a bit and be creative with their lessons. A study titled Putting the learner at the centre, suggests that the reason teachers explore teaching ideas in online communities is that they’ve searched for very specific ideas that were appropriate for their unique teaching situations. Surprisingly, their unique needs are often met in an online community   
  • Experience a sense of camaraderie (friendship)- According to the research by Jung won Hur and Thomas A. Brush, the initial participation in an online community is related to specific needs such as sharing emotions or exploring ideas. However, a sense of camaraderie is developed during participation, and these friendships encourage teachers to participate more in the community. The researcher interviewed a number of teachers and one of them said: “I originally joined the community for lesson plan ideas and classroom management help. Now I stick with it because I enjoy reading other people’s concerns, and what conditions are like in other states or countries.” 


In conclusion, the study suggests that all four reasons are interrelated. Sharing emotions is integrated with other reasons that teachers seek ideas and advice on possible solutions to their problems. Allowing anonymous participation online encourages teachers to share problems that they may not be able to discuss in their local schools. Teachers also develop a sense of camaraderie when they share ideas and emotions, showing how all of the components are related. This implies that a holistic perspective is necessary to fully understand teacher participation in the online communities


Source: Jung Won Hur, Aunurn University and Thomas A. Brush, Spring 2014: Volume 41 Number 3: Teacher participation in online communities: why do teachers want to participate in self-generated online communities of K-12 teacher, PP 291-297.

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