A social-cognitive study of Indonesian Google educator groups
Self-directed professional learning is distinct from the traditional approach of directed professional development. The introduction of the Internet into Indonesian society provides the opportunity for teachers to use digital tools for their teaching and to access professional learning without attending mandated professional development. An emerging phenomenon in Indonesia is the establishment and use of Google Education Groups (GEGs) for professional learning about the use of educational technology (ed-tech) in the schooling sector. Two research questions guided the examination of Indonesian educators’ experiences of GEGs: (1) how do Indonesian educators participate in the GEGs for ed-tech professional learning? and (2) how do the GEGs function to enable Indonesian educators’ ed-tech professional learning? Collective case study methodology was applied, and three Google Education Groups were examined, one from a metropolitan area, one from an urban area and the third from a rural context. In each case study, the leader of the group and three group members with varying levels of online engagement were interviewed and online forum conversations were examined. Data were analysed using Stake’s method of categorical aggregation leading to within-case assertions and cross-case analysis. A social cognitive perspective was used as a framework to analyse and interpret findings. It was found that the Indonesian educators had an agentic approach to professional learning, which was context-dependent with three major interrelated aspects: the regional-technological environment as context, the individuals as agentic learners, and the connectedness as social learners enabled meaningful learning experiences. The regional-technological environment influenced how the GEGs functioned. The Metropolitan group was innovative and collaborative, focusing on the use of web-based tools to improve productivity of ed-tech practices. The Urban group aimed to explore how they could use web-based tools to improve efficiency through paperless classroom practices and school administration. The Rural group sought to use of web-based tools for simple teaching and learning practices within a context of low bandwidth and limited ICT infrastructure. In addition, certain conditions that support online collaboration and factors that can minimise and optimise ed-tech learning opportunities are identified. Participants overcame limitations and constraints by enacting agency and developing social connectedness in learning through the groups. The group leadership positions were voluntary and found to be driven by a desire to share expertise and practices that support, inspire, and empower others rather than about gaining positional authority. Participation in online informal groups such as Google Education Groups appears to be a supportive method of professional learning that facilitates agentic and experiential learning about the use of educational technology in Indonesia. This model can enhance professional learning opportunities for Indonesian educators. It can also be implemented into the design of government-supported ed-tech PD programmes, to create an empowering and safe learning environment that can optimise their potential in learning and improve practice.