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Identity in Focus: Examining FE Practitioners’ Informal Professional Learning Through the Lenses of Online Community Dialogues

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Practice-Focused Research in Further Adult and Vocational Education

Abstract

This chapter explores the use of informal online communities to the professional learning of practitioners working in Further Education (FE) in England.

Recent research informs us that FE teachers report that the continuing professional development (CPD) they undertake does not meet their needs; some mandatory training has little or no value. Educators’ participation in formal CPD is declining, yet informal, social media-based dialogues are growing in popularity, with the rhizomatic communities hosting them growing in number.

A netnographic study using social network analysis techniques is used to analyse dialogues on three Twitter-based educators’ communities. Thematically, dialogues can be said to fall under three lenses. Discourses under the ‘Pedagogy’ and ‘Learning Community’ lenses show teachers collaborating to build technical and practical wisdom. Values-informed political engagement is a key part of dialogues under the third ‘Identity and Voice’ lens, addressing praxis in its fullest sense, exploring teacher identity and agency, and prizing democratic learning. Participants advocate for social-purpose education, framing their role as self-empowerment of learners, their families and communities.

Focus groups and interviews with teachers and FE managers reinforce the validity of the ‘three lens’ model and the chapter closes with ‘calls to action’ for further use of and research into online communities.

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Correspondence to Lynne Taylerson .

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Taylerson, L. (2020). Identity in Focus: Examining FE Practitioners’ Informal Professional Learning Through the Lenses of Online Community Dialogues. In: Gregson, M., Spedding, P. (eds) Practice-Focused Research in Further Adult and Vocational Education. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-38994-9_8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-38994-9_8

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  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-38993-2

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