An online community of physics teachers: A model for a professional development framework

Leading team

Prof. Bat Sheva Eylon, Dr. Esther Bagno

Postdocs and students

Meytal Hans, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow

R&D team

Esty Magen, Koby Sharzbord, Irina Veisman, Michal Walter


Research indicates that professional learning communities reinforce teachers’ professional development (e.g.: Vescio, Ross, & Adams, 2007). The Science Teaching Department in the Weizmann Institute of Science with the support of The Trump Foundation are operating learning communities of physics teachers throughout the country. In order to expand the circle of teachers participating in the communities, we explore possible models of an online community. We conducted a pilot research with five teachers during January-June 2013. The goals: were a) Developing a model for an online community of physics teachers and framing design principles of the model; b) Exploring the contribution of the development process to the professional development of the teachers who participated in the process. We employed a collaborative design methodology (e.g.: Kensing & Blomberg, 1998). Data was collected through documentation of the design process and part of the community meetings, feedback questionnaires and interviews – which are qualitatively analyzed. Initial results indicate the necessity of integrating face-to-face meetings with online video conferences and online asynchronous assignments; the challenge of visibility during a video conference and possible solutions, e.g., integrating small groups work during video conference, enabling multiple activities to encourage participation, and enable teachers to share their experience.

During the project, we have also developed unique materials for teachers attending online communities. These materials were evaluated by us and by participating teachers..During October 2013-April 2014 we are going to operate an online community of physics teachers, implementing the findings of the pilot research. Through this implementation we will refine the model and explore its contribution to the professional development of the teachers participating in the community. This research may contribute to the current body of knowledge about the way we can build and support an on-line professional community of teachers.


  • Kensing, F. & Blomberg, J. (1998). Participatory design: Issues and concerns. Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 7, 167-185.
  • Vescio, Ross, & Adams. (2008). A review of research on the impact of professional learning communities on teaching practice and student learning. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24, 80-91.

Related Materials (in Hebrew)

Link to project website