Teacher professional conversations – the oz-Teachers story

Margaret Lloyd, Carol Skyring, Shaun Nykvist

Abstract


The oz-Teachers listserv, an email list for teachers, ran continuously for 20 years, from 1995 to 2015. It provided the technical infrastructure for professional communication with the majority of its members being Australian teachers based in classrooms across the country. An analysis of the list archives provides us with interesting insights as to how teachers learn from and within communities of their peers and how such communities offer social and educational affordances to allow teachers to generate and enhance their own learning. This paper begins with a brief review of the response to the announcement of the list’s closure. It then moves to a report of the types of communication which emerged from the list over time with comparisons drawn from extant research, namely, an early analysis of email lists and a more contemporary study of teacher communication through microblogging. We identified 14 categories with eight of these being paired, namely, as asking/seeking and responding/giving. The key finding of this analysis was that the list, and its professional discussions, were sustained through reciprocity and collective intelligence, that is, sharing of information and resources and that this was evident through the life of the listserv

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