Establishing learning communities in using technology to support university teaching and learning

Robert Fox
University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong SAR, China

Educational policy initiatives in Hong Kong over the last few years have emphasized the importance of the inclusion of information and communication technology (ICT) to support teaching and learning. These policies and accompanying implementation strategies have focused primarily on hardware and software installation, and on the selection and use of course management systems (CMS). Professional development has tended to centre on ICT technical training and not on the pedagogical issues concerning the integration of technology into the curriculum. In research-led universities, in-service pedagogic support for teaching staff has led to a growth of interest in establishing collaborative groups of teachers who can help each other develop and use appropriate technology to support their teaching and their students' learning. At the same time, the absence of a strong collaborative culture within and across research-led universities has been identified as one of the barriers to the successful development and implementation of innovative pedagogical practices using technology in education (Ellis and Phelps 2001; Muijs and Harris 2006; Law 2006). Law (2006) identified an imperative to develop more supportive structures and mechanisms to foster a shared culture and to establish communities of practice among teachers to encourage the exchange of physical and virtual classroom experiences, as well as collaboration in curriculum and pedagogical innovation in and across schools and faculties.

Based on outcomes generated by a research team composed of various faculty teachers, this paper explores the building of communities of practice within one university to help scale up innovative uses of technology in the curriculum through identifying, sharing and exchanging case studies of good practices in using technology in the curriculum. The paper identifies examples of good practices across faculties in using IT in the curriculum; reviews issues taken into account when developing a case study framework suitable for sharing the good practices (Massy 2000); and explores the potential of case studies of good practices to support sustainable and transferable practices that could inform curriculum initiatives in various faculties (Mitchell and Sackney 2000).