Reinvigorating Connectivity: The Importance of Blended Communities of Practice
Abstract: Blended communities of practice complementarily incorporate online and in-person opportunities to enhance the learning of its members. The need for reinvigorated connectivity and the importance of blended communities of practice was highlighted during a teacher-directed inquiry-based science workshop. Here, we discovered that educators in a seemingly tight-knit community were actually disconnected and isolated from one another. Using this workshop as a micro-case study situated at the threshold of the COVID-19 pandemic, we investigate how blended communities of practice can further support K-12 educators in a post-pandemic paradigm. Consistent with the literature, the educators expressed a need for opportunities to connect with their community, share knowledge, and discover existing resources to mobilize with their students. These discoveries enabled us to build upon and extend previous definitions of blended communities of practice to include concepts of equity and community experience. Furthermore, in light of the COVID-19 educational milieu, our findings summon a call for action to create, sustain, and maintain blended communities of practice that capitalize on and leverage the benefits of both in-person and virtual settings.