Establishing and Maintaining a Dynamic Learning & Teaching Community via an Online Learning Management System Platform


  • Carmel Nicholas University of Adelaide


Teacher Learning Communities (TLC) have been recognised as key factors in achieving high level engagement and quality outcomes for both teaching staff and for students. Their purpose is to create a shared space in which disciplinary knowledge and issues of practice can be shared and discussed. However, in the context of issues in our institution, such as lack of time, space, funding, and a highly casualised working environment, establishing and maintaining such a community is a challenge.Creating an online community offered a solution to a number of these issues.

The Learning Management System at our institution was chosen to establish a TLC for the following reasons: it was immediately accessible to all staff members and offered a range of tools for cross communication. Further, it provided staff with a selection of specialised pedagogical resources and enabled collection and collation of action research. From a design perspective, the project was informed by current research which has found that users make decisions on the usefulness and user friendliness of online learning systems based on their reactions to the environment. Thus a secondary aim was that the site should act as an exemplar of a highly engaging LMS, one which motivates by being aesthetically pleasing, well organized, and inclusive of multi-modal content.

Regular activities are designed to promote knowledge building, exchange of ideas and to embed a signi cant level of re ection to encourage teaching staff to adapt and improve their practice. This enables staff to take an active role in collecting and sharing their own observational research thus integrating both praxis and re ection.

Moreover, the use of the LMS platform gives staff the opportunity to explore a range of e-learning and teaching tools and to practice using such tools to create engaging course content. The Teacher Learning Community via the Blackboard platform thus integrates both the technological and pedagogical aspects of professional development. 


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Carmel Nicholas, University of Adelaide

Education Program Manager

Integrated Bridging Program-Research (IBP-R)
Professional & Continuing Education including the English Language Centre


Charalambos, V, Michalinos, Z & Chamberlain, R 2004, The Design of Online Learning Communities: Critical Issues. Education Media International, viewed 22 February 2013, .

Coopman, SJ 2009, A critical examination of Blackboard’s e–learning environment, First Monday, Volume 14, Number 6 - 1 June 2009 [ONLINE], viewed 1 June 2012, .

Corich, S 2005, Is it time to Moodle?, Conference Paper, Conference of Computing & Information Technology Research & Education, Tauranga, New Zealand, viewed 1 June2012, .

David, A & Glore, P 2010, The Impact of Design and Aesthetics on Usability, Credibility, and Learning in Online Courses. In J. Sanchez & K. Zhang (Eds.), Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare, and Higher Education, 2010 Chesapeake, VA: AACE viewed 18 September 2012,

Garrison, R & Kanuka, H 2004, Blended learning: Uncovering its transformative potential in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 7(2), viewed 8 May 2012, <>.

Hew, KF & Thomas, E 2007, Integrating technology into K-12 teaching and learning: current knowledge gaps and recommendations for future research. Education Tech Research Dev 55. 223–252 DOI 10.1007/s11423-006-9022- 5, viewed 24 September 2012, .

Hung, DWL & Chen, D 2001, Situated cognition, Vygotskian thought and learning from the communities of practice perspective: Implications for the design of web-based e-learning, Education Media International, vol 38(1), 4-12, viewed 14 October 2012,

Jung, I 2005, ICT-Pedagogy Integration in Teacher Training: Application Cases Worldwide. Educational Technology & Society, 8 (2), 94-101, viewed 13 September 2012, <>.

Junk, V, Deringer, N & Junk, W 2007, Techniques to engage the online learner, Proceedings of Hawaii International Conference on Education. Honolulu, Hawaii, viewed13 September 2012,

Kanuka, H & Garrison, R 2004, Cognitive presence in online learning. Journal of Computing in Higher ,Education Spring 2004, Vol 15(2), 21-39, viewed 15 March 2013, .

Kroll, K 2010, Reflective Practice. Technology Resource Teachers; Frederick County Public School, viewed March 2012, .

Larrivee, B 2000, Transforming Teaching practice: Becoming the critically reflective teacher, Reflective Practice: International and Multidisciplinary Perspectives, 1:3, 293-307, DOI:10.1080/713693162, viewed 28 Jan 2013 .

Levine, TH 2010, Tools for the study and design of collaborative teacher learning: The affordances of different conceptions of teacher community and activity. Teacher Education Quarterly, 37, California Council of Teacher Education, viewed 15 March 2013, .

Machado, M Tao, E 2007, Blackboard vs. Moodle: Comparing User Experience of Learning Management Systems, October 10 – 13, 2007, Milwaukee, WI 37th ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference S4J-7, viewed 18 September 2012,

Richards, J & Lockhart, C 1996, Reflective teaching in second language classrooms. Cambridge University Press, UK.

Showler, J 2006, Case Study of Classroom Practice: A “Quiet Form of Research”

The Qualitative Report, Volume 5, Numbers 3 & 4, October, 2000, viewed 18 February 2012, .

Smith, MK 2003, 'Communities of practice', the encyclopaedia of informal education, viewed 20 February 2012,

Shin, HJ 2007, EFL Teachers' Perceptions and Perspectives on Internet-Assisted Language Teaching. CALL-EJ Online. 8, (2), viewed 24 October 2012,

Teacher Learning Communities, The Council Chronicle November 2010, National Council of Teachers of English, University of Michigan, Illinois, viewed 14 May, <12 >.

Tu, C & Corry, M 2002, Research in online learning community. E-journal of Instructional Science and Technology vol 5 (1), viewed 18 February 2012,

Unal, Z & Unal, A 2011, Evaluating and comparing the usability of web-based course management systems. Journal of Information Technology Education, 10, 19-38, viewed 15 June 2012, .

Watson, DM 2001, Pedagogy before technology: Re-thinking the relationship between ICT and teaching. Education and Information Technologies 6(4), 251-266, viewed 12 June 2013, .