Informal, Grassroots Online Professional Learning: The Experiences of Teacher Educators

Tara Harper, Richard Holme (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Teacher educators, charged with teaching teachers, can overlook their own Continuing Professional Learning and Development (CPLD), instead relying on learning through doing the job (Swennen A, Shagrir L, Cooper M. Becoming a teacher educator: voices of beginning teacher educators. In: Becoming a teacher educator. Springer, Dordrecht, p 91–102, 2009). The unique circumstances of COVID-19 meant that most teacher educators had to act quickly and adapt face-to-face teaching for online delivery. In addition to the challenges posed, this presented opportunities to learn and develop new skills and knowledge. This ranged from fostering small-scale professional learning communities (Wenger E. Syst Think 9(5):2–3, 1998) to much wider, informal networks of educators learning from each other. The global education community quickly mobilised and offered online seminars, conferences, and training sessions in ways that had never been seen before.

As teacher educators, we explore our personal experiences of engaging with a wide range of grassroots CPLD (Holme R. Grassroots teacher professional development: how and why practitioners are taking ownership for their development and learning. PRACTICE: Contemporary Issues in Practitioner Education. Retrieved from, 2021) during COVID-19. The development and execution of an informal Professional Learning Community (PLC), working to support school teachers, is then analysed using a research method including reflective writing and a nominal group technique interview (Cohen L, Manion L, Morrison K. Research methods in education, 7th edn. Routledge, Abingdon, 2013). Common themes from the project and evidence from other informal learning experiences are identified, so other tertiary educators can plan their own CPLD and facilitate online grassroots learning opportunities for their peers and students.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDeveloping Online Teaching in Higher Education
Subtitle of host publicationGlobal Perspectives on Continuing Professional Learning and Development
EditorsDianne Forbes, Richard Walker
Place of PublicationSingapore
PublisherSpringer Singapore
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9789811955877
ISBN (Print)9789811955860
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Publication series

NameProfessional and Practice-based Learning
ISSN (Print)2210-5549
ISSN (Electronic)2210-5557


  • Continuing Professional Learning and Development
  • COVID-19
  • Higher education
  • Online teaching
  • Professional learning community
  • Teacher education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Business and International Management


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