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Analyzing Online Social Networking in Professional Learning Communities: Cyber Networks Require Cyber-Research Tools
Journal of Technology Education
Schlager, M., Farooq, U., Fusco, J., Schank, P., & Dwyer, N.
Schlager, M., Farooq, U., Fusco, J., Schank, P., & Dwyer, N. (2009). Analyzing online social networking in professional learning communities: Cyber networks require cyber-research tools. Journal of Technology Education, 60(1), 86-100.
The authors argue that conceptual and methodological limitations in existing research approaches severely hamper theory building and empirical exploration of teacher learning and collaboration through cyber-enabled networks. They conclude that new frameworks, tools, and techniques are needed to understand and maximize the benefits of teacher networks. The paper presents preliminary data to illuminate both the power and limitations of current tools and techniques for studying cyber-enabled networks using data from a large, mature online network of K-12 educators. The findings raise fundamental questions that are beyond the capability of most education researchers and evaluators to address rigorously and cost-effectively. The authors propose a research agenda designed to create and validate a new generation of research tools and techniques that enable researchers ask more incisive and convergent research questions and help school leaders and teachers support, learn, and collaborate with one another more effectively in cyber-enabled professional communities.