Professional Communities of Practice: We Need Them, But How to Develop Them Successfully?

Wouter Bernardus Vollenbroek, J.M. Wetterling, Sjoerd A. de Vries

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


The Dutch education system is in a gradual transformation from standardised curriculum driven education to personalised education. Drivers are new media developments, future job transformations, recognizing the relevance of 21st century skills, and more. Dutch teachers increasingly acknowledge the continuous need for professional development, innovativeness, and continuous development of education in general. Therefore teachers and policy-makers increasingly unite in professional communities of practice (PCoP) in which the individual development and the development of the community is leading. In the PCoP, a group of educators meet each other on a regular basis to share expertise, and work collaboratively to improve teaching skills and the performance of students. In Education21 (Onderwijs21), a Dutch PCoP-initiative initiated to improve K-12-education, teachers and policy-makers from K-12-schools in the Northern and Eastern region of the Netherlands develop in a co-creation context the education of the twenty-first century. The network behind Education21 consists of primary schools, secondary schools, teacher education institutes, and education professionals, who recognise the importance of continuous professional development. The main goal of this PCoP is to contribute significantly to the success of the foreseen transformations. The first experiences in the PCoP show that participants acquire knowledge relevant to the transformation in their schools, by using an action-based research approach in a community-oriented environment. In this chapter we describe our approach, we give examples, and conduct a SWOT-analysis to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threads of this approach. This results in a practical resource and method for regions to successfully develop a PCoP in a K-12-context.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook on Digital Learning for K-12 Schools
EditorsAnn Marcus-Quinn, Triona Hourigan
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-33806-4
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Publication series



  • IR-102840
  • METIS-320283

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