context of this research I must address the issue of professional development of teachers. Clearly, this is an area that
has received much attention from the academic community. The question of how to
promote teacher change or renewal has long been of central interest to
educators and educational systems. (Grundy & Robinson in Day & Sachs,
How do we approach knowledge in the process of professional development of teachers?
These two lines of thought will contribute to the subject of my research: Twitter and its inspirational nature in contributing to CPD.
Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
Sachs (2005) have dedicated an entire book to the subject of teachers’
professional development. In the ‘International Handbook on the Continuing
Professional Development of Teachers’ they have edited a number of relevant essays.
They introduce continuing professional development as a term to describe
“all the activities in which teachers engage during the course of a career which are designed to enhance their work”. (p.3)
The authors acknowledge the complexity of teachers’ work and therefore refer to the process of CPD as a range of activities, rather than about particular forms of activity. In this way, CPD must be seen as the short ánd long-term development of the person, the professional and the classroom practitioner. Development of both the teachers as ‘technician’ and the teacher as ‘reflective practitioner’. This evolution from the teacher as ‘technician’ to a more holistic view of developing the person, the professional and the practitioner is just. Although governments and systems are using CPD as a means of political reform (Day & Sachs, 2003) the teacher remains at the heart of the classroom. Generally speaking CPD has three purposes: “to align teachers’ practice with educational policies; to improve the learning outcomes of students; and to enhance the status and profile of the teaching profession.” (Day & Sachs, 2005, p. 22) This case study will show that Twitter can fulfill a significant role as mediator in all of these three areas.
In meeting these purposes CPD has three basic functions: extension, growth and renewal. Three ongoing states of operation that lead (might lead) to fulfilment of the threefolded purpose.Extension means introducing new knowledge or skills into a teacher’s repertoire. It is a process of ‘building on’ current teacher competences. Growth is the development of greater levels of expertise and renewal is "akin to innovation, that is, the old and worn out is replaced with an updated version.” (Grundy & Robison in Day & Sachs, 2005, p. 148)
“Professional development consists of all natural learning experiences and those conscious and planned activities which are intended to be of direct or indirect benefit to the individual, group or school.” (Day & Sachs, 2003, p. 13)
Why not consider Twitter as a knowledge management system for teachers to learn implicitly in their process of CPD? Albeit a chaotic one that thrives on the psychological construct of inspiration.
Epistemic point of view
Secondly, I want to address the process of CPD from a more epistemological point of view. Epistemology is referred to as ‘theory of knowledge’. It is derived from the Greek word episteme meaning ‘knowledge’ and logos meaning ‘speech’ or ‘word’. This branch of philosophy questions what knowledge is and how it can be acquired. The six-syllable word does not leap to our lips spontaneously. Yet insights in the area of epistemology are relevant to how we approach education, and CPD in particular. At its deepest level, epistemology asks somewhat esoteric questions such as “What is the nature of the knower? What is the nature of the known? And what is the relation between the two?” (Palmer, 1983)
I do not pretend to have studied this in depth such as authors like Palmer (1983) or Tirri et al. (1999) but it has become relevant in the context of my research. During the past decades there has been a shift from the profession ‘teacher-as-technician’ to a more holistic ‘reflective practitioner’. Logically, this has had an impact on the direction of professional development. The rhetoric of teacher training and development has changed from “one in which individual teachers have been able to choose at will from a smorgasbord of mainly one-shot workshops, to one in which lifelong learning is regarded as essential for all as a mandatory part of every teachers’ needs?” (Day & Sachs, 2005, p. 8) It is my experience and perception that this idea of the single-shot workshop, quick-fix solution to teacher problems is still widely present in the workfield. This approach to the teacher profession has its result in the types of knowledge associated with CPD. Cochran-Smith and Lytle (1999) identified three types of knowledge associated with teachers’ CPD:
- Knowledge-for-practice: formal knowledge generated by researchers outside the school.
- Knowledge-of-practice: generated by teachers themselves critically examining their own classrooms and schools, alone or with others.
- Knowledge-in-practice: teachers' practical knowledge generated through their own systematic inquiry, stimulated by questions raised concerning their own classroom effectiveness.
> The vehicle for inspirational CPD: Networks of Practice.
 G & C. Merriam Co. (1913). Noah Porter, eds. Webster's Revised Unabridged
Dictionary (1913 ed.). G & C. Merriam Co. p. 501.
Retrieved 29 January
(?), n. [Gr. knowledge + -logy.] The theory or science of the method or group.
Epistemology is the study of how we know what we know.ds of knowledge.