Edith Cowan University, Western Australia in association with Khon Kaen University, Thailand and Bansomdejchaopraya Rajabhat University, Thailand.
Two goals of the university‘s postgraduate programme in educational management and leadership is; (a) to establish a learning support network amongst each cohort in order to stimulate ease and openness of professional sharing and so enhance course learning; and (b) to promote sustainable school leader networking in the field. ‗Moodle‘, a recently introduced computer supported collaborative learning (CSCL) technology, uses asynchronous discussion forums to create opportunities for professional and social support which are intended to complement face-to-face meetings. Such discussion forums are immediately helpful for providing personalised advice when needed (‗just for me; just in time‘ support) to the school leaders who have been away from tertiary study for some time and have grown unfamiliar with juggling personal, professional and student life. Long term, these discussion forums will hopefully stimulate the school leaders to establish and sustain their own online forums once their study is completed and they are back out in the field. Such an ‗anywhere anytime‘ support network would be especially helpful for newly appointed school leaders and those in isolated areas. Appropriately moderated asynchronous threaded discussions that are interspersed with face-toface meetings require a teaching methodology that emphasises active student-centred problembased collaborative learning, in order to improve discussion structure and team problem solving, and develop a communal sense of professional learning. This same innovation also supports the university‘s partner, the Ministry of Education, by helping it establish professional knowledge communities amongst school leaders at cluster and district levels in order to align systemic vision and school-based improvement action plans. This paper contains; a rationale for using an online professional discussion forum to establish a hybrid professional community of practice; a description of the ‗moodle‘ technology; establishing the technology in and existing on-campus leader development course; ensuring a positive initial response to the technology; and efforts to sustain the hybrid school leader support network.