Facilitating Professional Learning Communities Among Higher Education Faculty: The Walden Junto Model
Originally Published In
Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration
Virtual Professional Learning Communities (PLC) have become an innovative way to meet the professional development needs of faculty in the online learning environment. Walden University’s model for PLCs, the Walden Junto, uses a combination of synchronous and asynchronous online strategies and is based on a philosophy that embraces the faculty members’ needs for professional growth as well as building community among the faculty population. However, previous research into virtual PLCs has examined either exclusively synchronous or asynchronous settings and has primarily focused on the processes of the community rather than outcomes. The intent of this research was to determine the impact of participation in the Walden Junto on faculty perception of collegial relationships and on classroom performance. An exploratory survey design was employed to answer these research questions. The survey was administered to volunteers from the population of faculty who participated in a Walden Junto within a one-year time frame. Descriptive statistics and chi square analysis were used to examine the data. Findings suggest that a PLC model such as the Walden Junto can be a means to reinforce participants’ needs for belonging through collaboration and sharing of resources. In addition, it may be an appropriate professional development activity to create knowledge transfer to practice in some faculty roles.