Facebook groups not cutting it? Participate Learning engages a community of 900 members with this tool instead
by Jane Violette, on 10/23/20 10:37 AM
When educators were challenged to revamp their teaching practice and shift to remote learning as a result of COVID-19, one global education company sought to create an online community space to connect educators around the world. Participate Learning supports thousands of cultural exchange teachers and global education school programs, and needed a way to help its members rapidly connect as teachers struggled to find new ways to reach their students in response to the global pandemic.
Impacting teacher practice
Participate Learning wanted to create a community space beyond just a discussion board, news feed or knowledge bank of resources. It created a Community of Practice built to improve teacher practice and create new knowledge together.
The community, United We Teach, leverages embedded collaboration tools on Participate’s community platform to build authentic relationships, uniting teachers around a shared purpose. Through interactive discussion threads, direct messaging and grouping, teachers are connecting with others who are experiencing similar problems and working to build innovative solutions together.
United We Teach members discussing technology tools
The community also deepens connection and knowledge creation through weekly live chats hosted by members on topics ranging from virtual classroom management and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to cooking lessons and student connection strategies. Community members are gaining leadership skills and classroom ideas from the opportunities in the community then applying them to their daily practice.
This is how a Community of Practice approach differs from a typical community space -- the focus is not just on the number of members or likes on posts; it’s the impact of what members do as a result of what they’ve gained from the community.
Community discussion about fostering student connections
Social media post of a member being recognized for their contribution to the community and impact on their students
Since its inception in March, the United We Teach community has had an overwhelmingly positive response from community members. This is in part because Participate Learning has committed to letting the voices and the needs of community members dictate the experiences and opportunities within the community. As a result, community members are more engaged, participatory and eager to put the ideas gained into action.
I am taking away so many great ideas that I cannot wait to implement in my own classroom and share with the members of my grade team,” said Yvonne Banks, United We Teach community member. “It is important that I re-engage my students through multiple entry points so that they all have an equal opportunity to learn and be successful! Moving forward I will be more deliberate and intentional in the ways that I choose to engage all of my learners as they transition into the world of digital learning and becoming global citizens!”