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Abstract

The impact of the Internet on our lives has been pervasive. People are increasingly turning to the social interaction available on the Internet to satisfy their needs, whether these are professional or personal. The Internet offers users fast access to social contacts such as online chat groups and discussion lists, helping us to make connections with others. Online communities are being increasingly used by teachers for professional support, guidance and inspiration. These are often organised around subject areas and offer teachers opportunities to develop both personally and professionally. Online communities may present as a source of continuous professional development for teachers as they are able to deliver authentic and personalised opportunities for learning. This paper will present the findings of a study that was conducted on three online communities for teachers. It will explore the nature of online community membership and offer some conclusions regarding their potential as a source of professional learning for teachers.