The purpose of this PhD research project is to investigate the process of the learning and knowledge building (LKB) in the extended professional community that is supported with the socio-technical system. The main focus of the research is on exploring how the learning and knowledge building practices can be systemically arranged in the socio-technical system where the knowledge is spreading around the individuals, groups and communities. Theoretically the LKB practices in the technology-supported extended professional community were grounded on the theories of self-directed and organizational learning, knowledge building theory and knowledge conversion SECI model as the systemic model for implementing LKB practices. Design-Based Research was methodologically used when designing, implementing and evaluating the LKB practi ces in the socio-technical system. The data was analysed by several methods co mbining the qualitative and quantitative approaches (e.g. content analysis of the focus group interviews; narrative analysis of the weblogs; correlation analysis and Bayesian Dependency Modelling of the users’ traces in the socio-technical system ). The results of the design phases are reported in four research articles (Studies I-IV), originally published in scientific journals or peer-reviewed conference proceedings.
As a result, the PhD research project first identified the current gaps in teachers’ LKB practices that may inhibit their professional development. Then the research project proposed LKB practi ces for teachers’ professional development in an extended professional development; technical LKB scenarios in socio-technical system and an implementation framework for implementing the technology-supported LKB scenarios in extended professional community.
The major findings of the PhD research project indicated that currently several evaluation procedures in teachers’ professional activitie s (e.g. pre-service studies school practice, induction year, accreditation, internal evaluations at schools) are bureaucratic, lack of feedback and do not encourage teachers’ continuing self- directed learning. Based on the results of the PhD research project it was realized that portfolio-based community has a perspective to be used as part of the socio-technical system in teacher education context as on one hand it provides possibilities for individual competence-based self-analysis and on the other hand teachers’ portfolios are available for learning in the community. Thirdly the project recognized that implementing innovations in the communities and organizations is slightly different as it faces different obstacles. The extended professional community does not have such hierarchical structures as in the traditional formal organizations, but the community needs the supportive decisions of the formal organizations for making the LKB practices authentic. Fourth, the PhD research project indicated that the role of scaffo lding is important in the socio-technical system. It was identified that the community members’ different types of LKB practices with community tools might have prompted different type of scaffolding:
the domain-experts’ interact ions directly influenced teachers’ knowledge building practices in the forum, however, the teachers’ reflections in weblogs were more directly influenced by other teachers’ comments in the blogs, rather than by the domain-experts’ comments. Thus it is recommended that implementing the LKB practices in the socio-technical system should focus on organizational supportive culture. Firstly such culture enables the authentic LKB practices in teachers’ professional development. Secondly it provides the members of the extended professional community who scaffold the development of the community knowledge through LKB practices.