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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Professional Learning Communities in elementary schools and how technologies are utilized
by Zykanov, Sarah Heare, Ed.D., University of San Francisco, 2010, 193; 3442087
Abstract (Summary)

Professional Learning Communities (PLC) are being developed by many K–12 public schools, in the year 2010. PLC consist of collaborative teacher teams that focus on evidence of student learning to guide a cycle of instructional improvement. Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) such as those used for assessment, communications and collaboration can facilitate the time consuming work of PLC, and help leaders monitor and support the work of PLC teams. However, educators underutilize ICT. This is the problem examined in the current study. A descriptive and exploratory case study method (Yin, 2009) was used, guided by the conceptual framework of Artifact Analysis (Halverson, 2004). Through interviews, observations and examination of archival data, the research documented how PLC have been enacted in two elementary schools and how technology is used in PLC work.

Participants in the study found PLC work to be valuable, stating that it helped them better meet the instructional needs of students and improved their sense of confidence as teachers. Interviews and observations revealed that PLC work is time consuming, adding to an already demanding work schedule. Creative strategies were used to make time for teachers to meet. Participants found assessment data collection and management especially challenging and expressed interest in learning how to make better use of assessment technologies. Participants also expressed an interest in use of ICT to find and share targeted learning activities.

The study suggests that communication; assessment and sharing are the areas in which ICT can best facilitate PLC work at this time. Communication technologies can help leaders coordinate the day to day running of the school. Assessment technologies can facilitate the creation, scoring, sharing and analysis of student assessments. Sharing technologies can help teachers find targeted learning activities, and share resources created by team members. The study suggests that ICT tools might be better used if developers seek input from practicing teachers and principals to assess current needs and understand how products will be used in practice. ICT tools should be easy to use in a busy classroom and school environment. Job-embedded professional development is essential when new programs are implemented.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Thomas, Christopher N.
School: University of San Francisco
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 72/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, Information Technology, School administration, Educational technology
Keywords: Collaboration, Information and communication technologies, Instructional improvement, PLC, Professional learning communities, Teacher collaboration, Technology
Publication Number: 3442087
ISBN: 978-1-124-46128-1
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