This paper reports on a case research project that investigated how online communities facilitate professional change. The context was an ICT professional development programme which aimed to transform teaching in New Zealand. Research indicates that transformations in professional behaviour require changes in professional knowledge – interpretive frameworks, values and methods. However, there is little understanding of how to facilitate this. We focused on this issue, guided by the question, “How do online communities of practice facilitate the embedding of professional knowledge?”

Embedding was driven by repeated crossings between engagement spaces (communication contexts) in a polycontextual system. polycontextuality has been linked with expert knowledge acquisition. Here, the number of contexts was dramatically increased. As individuals crossed between engagement spaces, with a shared focus, they adapted and recombined content to fit the demands of each context. This required deep engagement with ideas. Embedding was evidenced by theory-practice crossings, and personalisation of recurrent, powerful themes.