This study investigated how online communities helped drive change in a three-year professional development programme for New Zealand teachers. The programme aimed to embed effective ICT-based teaching practices in schools, together with a student-centred approach that positioned the teacher’s role as a facilitator of learning. An unofficial blogging community, connecting three cluster-based online communities to a global network, was found to play a role in driving embedding of the new approach. Influential individuals from this community (connector-leaders) employed a set of brokering practices, making differentiated use of technologies to foster knowledge embedding via five processes: focusing, persuading, aligning, adapting and owning. Their influence was extended by the activities of a group of followers who brokered knowledge across the online/offline boundary. The study identifies the workings of a socio-technological system in which change was promoted through brokering practices and sophisticated use of technology. It suggests that when system-level change is the goal, managers should consider the value of brokering roles and normative social processes that help to embed and sustain change. The activities of this system can be seen as supporting both the empirical-rational and the normative-re-educative approach to change (Chin and Benne, 1969).


knowledge embedding, knowledge broker, professional change, online communities, socio-technological system, persuasive systems


ISBN: [978-1-86435-644-1]; Full paper