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Summary Report for Roundtable on Online Communities of Practice

Summary Report Issued for Roundtable on Online Communities of Practice for Educators

Princeton, NJ (PRWEB) October 05, 2011 - has just released a Summary Report for the Roundtable on Online Communities of Practice that was co-hosted by and Footsteps2Brilliance™ Washington, DC on August 25, 2011. The event drew leaders from many segments of the education industry to discuss the opportunities and challenges in creating online communities of practice for educators.

The event opened with a keynote presentation by Karen Cator, Director of Educational Technology for the U. S. Department of Education and Darren Cambridge, Senior Consultant for the American Institutes of Research, who spoke with the group about the U. S. Department of Education’s Connected Online Communities of Practice (COCP) Project.

A panel of education leaders, representing different voices in education, were asked to describe their experiences creating online communities of practice, what their goals were, where they succeeded, what challenges they faced, and what they thought the key issues were for others engaged in similar activities.
* Tom Carroll, President, National Commission on Teaching and America's Future (NCTAF)
* Keith R. Krueger, CEO, Consortium for School Networking (CoSN)
* Thomas P. McCool, Ed. D., President, Eden Autism Services
* Susan Adelmann, Director of Business Strategy, Follett Software Company
* Michelle Luhtala, Head Librarian, New Canaan High School
* Ilene Rosenthal, Founder & CEO, Footsteps2Brilliance™
* Shannon Holden, Assistant Principal, Republic Middle School

All of the presenters expressed strong belief in the potential for online communities to improve and transform the practice of teaching and learning, but many issues and challenges were raised about how this can actually come to pass.
- Will online communities help teachers move beyond the role of individual artisans to interdependent learning teams?
- How do we balance the participatory nature of communities with the potential need for moderation and curation?
- What kinds of incentives and accreditation can we give to “connected educators” who create and engage in online communities of practice?
- Are teachers too overwhelmed by a cycle of the “next big thing” in technology that they have become reluctant to adopt new tools.

These are just a few of the issues raised in the meeting. The overall conclusion, from the discussion, indicates that we are in the early stages of both using the technology that supports online communities and understanding the dynamics and values of communities created in response to the technology’s promises. The challenges of access, education and training for users, community building and engagement, and integration of online communities of practice into the established world of scholarship and practice are formidable.

On the other hand, the technology and the communities it enables have proven to be inherently rewarding to users, as many roundtable participants noted. Online communities of practice can help teachers improve their individual practice, move the profession to a more collective teaching model, provide support for educators who are new to profession or face challenging teaching assignments, help associations be better advocates for their members, and help companies be better listeners about the products and services that are needed.

Lisa Schmucki, the founder and CEO of, added, “We hear so many positive comments from educators who join and create online communities. We are very thankful if we can play a part in bringing industry leaders together to help this movement move forward faster.”

The Roundtable was sponsored by Follett Software Company and MCH Strategic Data.

Download the Summary Report at:

About is a professional social network for the education community. Members can connect with peers, share information and resources, spread innovative ideas, and create professional learning communities. edWeb promotes collaboration with easy-to-use tools like blogs, discussions, messaging, calendars, polling, wikis, and file sharing. is transforming education through social networking by creating new models for online professional development and learning communities. has a partnership with MCH Strategic Data to reach out to more than 3 million K-12 educators in the U. S. and encourage them to join an online community of practice. edWeb has formed a Consortium for Online Communities of Practice to work closely with organizations and educators who are committed to building active and engaged communities. is free for educators and is funded with the support of our sponsors. For more information, contact Lisa Schmucki, founder and CEO, at 800-575-6015, ext. 100, or by email at lisa(at)edweb(dot)net. Join edWeb at

About Footsteps2Brilliance™
Footsteps2Brilliance™ is a comprehensive early learning program that uses mobile technology in order to connect school and home and expand traditional strategies for parental involvement. The curriculum emphasizes reading/language arts, mathematics, critical thinking skills and creativity. Footsteps2Brilliance™ accelerates student achievement by uniting the power of mobile gaming technology with the latest in cognitive research. Enticing, interactive, 24/7 learning experiences digitally link school and home to give students the edge they need for success in school today and the world tomorrow. Footsteps2Brilliance™ was founded by Ilene Rosenthal, a seasoned educator and executive, who uses her expertise in education to help all children succeed academically. Through her work with schools, education associations and government agencies, she develops partnerships that help to disseminate best practices for improving education for all children. For more information, contact Ilene Rosenthal, founder and CEO, at 202-338-1223, or by email at ilene(at)footsteps2brilliance(dot)com.

Contact: Lisa Schmucki, Founder and CEO,,, 908-407-2755