CoSN Releases New Report, “Online Communities of Practice: Ecosystems for Professional Growth”

EdTechNext Report Details How Collaborative Online Environments are Inspiring 21st Century Teaching and Learning
Washington, DC
Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Washington, DC (May 23, 2012) – The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) today released an EdTechNext Report, titled “Online Communities of Practice: Ecosystems for Professional Growth.” The latest in CoSN’s EdTechNext Report series on cutting-edge trends in education technology, the report explores how these online communities are making an impact on K-12 educators and helping to inspire innovation in teaching and learning.

“Online communities of practice provide educators with a constant, ever-evolving communications forum on a common set of core issues and challenges facing schools and school districts across the country,” said Dan Honoré, chair of CoSN’s Emerging Technologies Committee. “No matter the topics of discussion, the diverse pool of participants within these communities afford K-12 educators with the opportunity to supplement their knowledge, engage and collaborate with their peers and share best practices, providing an opportunity to take others’ lessons learned and implement them in the classroom.”

The report defines online communities of practice and explores their educational potential. As noted in the report, online communities of practice comprise three core elements: 1) a domain, or shared idea of interest to which members are committed; 2) a community, where members engage in joint activities and discussions; and 3) a practice, where members develop a repertoire of resources that define the practice of their profession.

Together the three elements create an online environment that enables educators to learn from and collaborate with each other to improve teaching and student learning. Participants include a wide range of education stakeholders, from state education department and elementary and secondary school leaders to national thought leaders and education experts, as these communities empower educators to:

  • Access knowledge that might not be available locally;
  • Share knowledge and learn from one another;
  • Create knowledge by supplying collaborative tools that combine ‘creative geographies,’ or like-minded educators; and
  • Build professional identity, relationship and collaboration, including investment in and ownership of education as a profession.

“These ‘ecosystems,’ particularly in a time of tight budgets and limited travel opportunities, offer an innovative means for educators to connect and remain connected with their peers,” said Keith Krueger, CoSN CEO. “While these communities may be new to some education professionals, there are a number of well-established K-12 online communities of practice. The sooner educators discover the power these communities hold as professional development resources, the sooner they can begin to realize the benefits of these forums to cultivate new ideas and innovative strategies that can be deployed to maximize professional development and advance educational goals.”

CoSN’s EdTechNext Reports are a series of mini-reports developed to keep educators up-to-speed on the latest trends in educational technology. They provide a brief introduction to new and emerging technologies and insight on their educational value. Sponsors of the reports include Adobe, Comcast, Gartner, Global Scholar, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, HP, IBM, Intel, Lenovo, Lightspeed Systems, Pearson, Polyvision, Qualcomm, SAS, Schooldude and SmartTechnologies.

The reports are only available to members of CoSN. For media contacts interested in receiving a complimentary copy of the latest report, please contact Jennifer Cummings at, or Michael Kaplun at  

To learn more about the report, please visit

To more about CoSN or to become a member, please visit

About the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN)

CoSN is the premier professional association for school system technology leaders. The mission of CoSN is to empower educational leaders to leverage technology to realize engaging learning environments. Visit or phone 866.267.8747 to find out more about CoSN’s Leadership Initiatives, annual conference and events, policy and advocacy, membership, and resources.

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