Princeton – May 18, 2011 –, a professional social network for the education community, has announced the creation of a coalition of organizations and community practitioners who are committed to growing active and engaged online communities of practice that help educators extend their personal learning and networking opportunities.

The Consortium for Online Communities of Practice has been created by in response to the goals and recommendations of the U. S. Department of Education’s National Education Technology Plan and the Connected Online Communities of Practice (COCP) Project.

The National Education Technology Plan recommends that educators, “Leverage social networking technologies and platforms to create communities of practice that provide career-long personal learning opportunities for educators within and across schools, preservice preparation and in-service education institutions, and professional organizations.”

The Consortium will consist of both non-profit and for-profit organizations that have a high level of commitment to creating online communities that facilitate peer-to-peer professional networking and learning opportunities for educators. serves the professional learning and networking needs of teachers, principals, librarians, new teachers, and any cohort of educators. is highly acclaimed for creating a strong sense of community, high levels of engagement, and rich discussions. Consortium members will work together to define the best practices that make these communities successful.

The founding members of the Consortium include the following organizations: NASSP, the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (NCTAF), Follett Software Company, the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), Eden Autism Services,, Big Deal Media, Footsteps2Brilliance, and MCH Strategic Data.

The Consortium will also include community practitioners. These are leading educators and industry executives who are serving as presenters, hosts, and facilitators of online communities. They are working on the front lines of connecting, engaging, and supporting educators in the growth and development of online learning networks. facilitates the growth of online communities through our partnership with MCH Strategic Data, the owner of a national K-12 education database. Through the generosity and support of MCH, invites educators all across the U. S. to join the communities of our Consortium members.

The members of the Consortium have agreed to a set of guiding principles: to have a high level of commitment to building communities, to develop and share best practices that create a high level of engagement, and to share case study information with the COCP Project and the education community.

Online communities of practice can support a wide range of benefits for educators and provide the opportunity for collaboration with an extended range of stakeholders including retired educators, educational associations, education companies, and government and community leaders. Some of the benefits of online communities include the ability to:

• Share information and resources
• Increase professional knowledge and expertise
• Expand connections with peers and colleagues
• Learn from peers and experts
• Gain experience and comfort using technology
• Deliver professional development programs
• Plan events
• Improve communication skills
• Move forward faster with new initiatives
• Collaborate on best practices
• Identify educational needs and challenges
• Find support
• Mentor new teachers

Lisa Schmucki, founder and CEO of commented, “We learn so much every day from our members about the value of using social networks to help educators expand their personal learning networks. Educators are so thankful for the opportunity to connect with their peers anywhere in the country, or the world, to share information and ideas about how to improve teaching and learning. These networks help accelerate the accumulation of knowledge, the spread of ideas, and the implementation of new initiatives.”

Karen Billings, Vice President of the Education Division of SIIA added, “Our Game-Based Learning community on edWeb shows the value of this kind of heightened connectivity for our members, educators, game developers, and anyone with an interest in this emerging field. One of our key initiatives is to bring the voice of the educator to our members. Online communities are a great way to do that. We very pleased to be a member of the edWeb Consortium.”

To learn more about the National Education Technology Plan, go to:

To learn more about the Connected Online Communities of Practice Project, go to:

To learn more about the Consortium for Online Communities of Practice, contact Lisa Schmucki at 908-407-2755 or

About is a professional social network for the education community. Members can connect with peers, share information and resources, spread innovative ideas, and create professional learning communities. edWeb promotes collaboration with easy-to-use tools like blogs, discussions, messaging, calendars, polling, wikis, and file sharing. is transforming education through social networking by creating new models for online professional development and learning. has partnered with MCH Strategic Data to reach out to more than 3 million K-12 educators in the U. S. is free for educators and is funded with the support of our sponsors. For more information, contact Lisa Schmucki, founder and CEO, at 800-575-6015, ext. 100, or by email at Join edWeb at

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