The term professional learning community as regards K-12 describes a group united in their commitment to improving student learning.
The community engages in a variety of activities including sharing a vision, working and learning collaboratively, visiting and observing other classrooms, and participating in shared decision making. The benefits of professional learning community to educators and students include reduced isolation of teachers, better informed and committed teachers, and academic gains for students. Shirley Hord of the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory says, that "as an organizational arrangement, the professional learning community is seen as a powerful staff-development approach and a potent strategy for school change and improvement".1
1. Hord, S. M. (1997). Professional learning communities: What are they and why are they important? [Online]. Available: http://www.sedl.org/change/issues/issues61.html .
The functionality within itslearning supports professional learning communities by providing them with tools to:
- increase efficiency of communications by way of discussion forums and messaging
- encourage collaboration in context with blogs, real time shared editing of document
- form and maintain groups and reduce the need for time consuming physical meetings by using the communities function