Laptops as practice : a case study examining communities of practice in a ubiquitous computing environment



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The purpose of this study was to examine a ubiquitous/pervasive computing initiative from a Community of Practice perspective. It sought to understand how faculty fit technology use into the already paramount goals they had for their students learning, and how that technology’s role became a part of that essential domain. Furthermore, it sought to determine the extent to which a community of practice emerged around the use of technology as a central practice. Using case study methodology with mixed-methods data collection strategies, this study explored practice among faculty participating in a ubiquitous laptop initiative within a pre-kindergarten through fourth-grade teacher preparation program. This program was part of a college of education in a major research university in the southern United States. Doing so involved an examination of the roles of participants, primarily faculty, in the community or communities to identify the primary domains of concern, and to determine to what extent the use of laptops in the classroom has itself become a practice around which a community has emerged. Findings from this study suggested that instructors were, to varying extents, involved in an emerging community of practice that included the use of technology, specifically laptops, to enhance the development of elementary school teachers. This community of practice was heavily dependent upon infrastructure provided by the administration of the college and the ubiquitous laptop initiative. At the same time, these instructors were less involved with a domain that included teaching teachers to use technology, or Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (Mishra & Koehler, 2006).