Virtual benchmarking as professional development: Peer learning in authentic learning environments
AbstractThe creation of a virtual benchmarking model as a tool for professional development of teachers is examined in this article. The process employed authentic learning criteria as reflection and dialogue tools in a peer review of e-courses. The learning space the virtual benchmarking process provided and its effectiveness in supporting professional development as experienced by teachers are described. Strengths and development challenges of the model are discussed. The project itself became an authentic learning environment in which elements structuring authentic learning promoted peer learning and collaborative construction of knowledge. Virtual methodologies were tested and developed with the use of Adobe Connect Pro and Ning. Teachers felt new knowledge could immediately be transferred to their work and authenticity in e-learning fostered by increasing collaborative construction of knowledge, strengthening reflection and deploying interactive social media. While considered useful and a time-saver, further improvements to the multiphase model should focus on process instructions and role clarification.