School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Donna Joy


Professional Development, Professional Teacher Communities, Teacher Collaboration, Teacher Reflective Practice, Technology


Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Methods | Educational Psychology | Online and Distance Education | Other Education


This qualitative study described the impact of collaboration and technology-based communication on the professional experiences of rural middle school classroom teachers. A hermeneutic phenomenological approach was used to determine if technology-based tools, such as online discussion boards, email, social networking sites, and short message service (SMS) texting has made an impact on instructional collaboration for rural middle school teachers. The theory guiding this study was connectivism (Siemens, 2005) as it addresses the concept that in the digital age knowledge is stored outside the learner and distributed knowledge as it relates to the connections formed between individuals and/or networks (Downes, 2005, 2010). Data collection methods included surveys, individual interviews, focus group interviews, and electronic journaling to provide insight into teacher professional communities and reflective practice. Data analysis was achieved through the use of the hermeneutic circle and followed van Manen’s approach. The results of this study indicated teacher collaboration was important for professional growth and the use of technology makes teacher collaboration more efficient. The hermeneutic phenomenological approach utilized in this study provided rich details to add to the body of research concerning teacher collaboration and the utilization of technology by teachers to give and seek professional support.