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Today’s Objectives

  • Describe: A “Community of Practice” and its value in expanding access to educational resources.
  • Discover: The Paths to Literacy site, use of social media platforms, and interactive features.
  • Discuss: Ways a Virtual Community of Practice supports teachers and families in literacy activities.


What is a “Community of Practice”?

“Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.”

-- Etienne Wenger (2006),  Cognitive Anthropologist


Elements of a CoP

The Domain:
Shared interest and values

The Community:
Members interact and learn from each together

The Practice:
Mutual development of a shared repertoire of resources:  experiences, stories, tools, and ways of addressing recurring problems - a shared practice


Levels of Participation


Relevancy to Itinerant TVIs

  • Invite different and informal levels of participation
  • Focus on shared values, goals
  • Combination of mentors and mentees
  • Access to shared expertise, experiences

-- by Etienne Wenger  
(Harvard Business School, 2002)


Example: Teachers’ technology use

Teachers and students in general education:

  • Improved infrastructure
  • Increased funding and availability of technology
  • Standards for tech instruction in pre-service
  • Professional development
  • Learning communities
  • In-service trainings


TVIs and students with visual impairments:

  • Improved infrastructure
  • Increased funding and availability of technology
  • Standards for tech instruction in pre-service
  • Professional development?


What is Paths to Literacy?

  • A community of practice that is dynamic
  • A symposium or think tank that gives people access to ideas and conversations about literacy
  • A home to multiple platforms, including an interactive  website, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter


Content Areas

The site is divided  into 12 content areas:

  • General Literacy
  • Learning Media Assessment
  • Emergent Literacy
  • Multiple Disabilities
  • Braille
  • Struggling Readers
  • Print
  • Writing
  • Dual Media
  • English Language Learners
  • Auditory Strategies
  • Math Literacy


Features of the Site


Value of Registering on the Site

  • Email notifications of blog posts
  • Subscribe to learn when posts are made in different areas
  • Make comments, ask questions
  • Submit a post and earn continuing education credit!

Register to Post entries on Paths to Literacy website.


Finding the Community: Interactive Possibilities of Site. We need to go to where the discussions are happening:

  • Conversations/comments
  • Dear Paths
  • Social Media
    • Facebook
    • Twitter - The Power of the #, immediacy, quick links (e.g. Assistive Technology Resource List)
    • Pinterest - Visually organize information, locate ideas on topics and themes that are of interest
  • Great way to share information quickly!
  • Conversation threads and meaningful engagement continues to increase


How do people follow us?


Who is in our community?


Non-Registered Users

136,500+ unique visitors to the site since launch in April 2012


International Community

  • Visitors from 196 countries
  • Spanish-language posts
  • Cross-cultural content
  • Posts from UK, Australia, Argentina, Canada, Philippines


Some of our favorites!


Yue-Ting (Ting) Siu, TVI & Doctoral Candidate
Twitter: @TVI_ting

Charlotte Cushman, Project Manager

Perkins School for the Blind 

Cyral Miller, Outreach Director

Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired