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EXAMINING AN ONLINE COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE FOR MA TEFL THESIS STUDENTS

A. Tekiner Tolu, Y. Kesli Dollar, E. Mede

Bahcesehir University (TURKEY)
Previous studies showed that integrating technology in traditional (face to face) graduate level courses enhance interactions and student learning. In this qualitative case study, we will examine the role of creating an online community of practice to promote graduate students’ thesis writing process over a semester. Three advisors and ten MA TEFL students who have completed their coursework and are at the stage of writing their thesis participated in the study. To create an effective social presence and community of practice, an LMS, namely Coursesites was used to promote communication and collaboration among students and advisors. The participants kept an online weekly journal to reflect on their experiences especially focusing on the role of technology during their thesis writing process. At the end of the semester, after the online journals are analyzed, a semi-structured informal interview will be held with each participant in order to understand their overall experiences and perceptions of being a member of an online community of practice. The results of this study are expected to shed light on the problems encountered during the process of creating an online community of practice and the possible effects of using computer mediated communication for advising purposes. This study will reveal sound pedagogical and practical implications in the field of higher education as well as distance education.