Assisting Bulgarian special educators with competency development online
Emerald Group Publishing
Education and Arts
– The purpose of this paper is to discuss an expansion of the Special Education Bulgaria (SEB) internet community that is required to pilot software created by the European Union's (EU's) Sixth Framework integrated project, TENCompetence.
– SEB is the product of a two‐year research project designed to create a sustainable nation‐wide community of practice (CoP) for special education in Bulgaria via the internet. This paper discusses the SEB features consistent with TENCompetence concepts of competency development, lifelong learning, and professional networking. It then describes the additional features needed to prepare a SEB pilot.
– SEB was developed throughout three phases of research, which included a needs assessment, formative evaluation, and effectiveness evaluation. Effectiveness evaluation results indicated that though a CoP has begun to coalesce, it remains unclear to what extent SEB helps special educators do their jobs better. In response to this finding, the implementation and testing of e‐portfolios and online courses is proposed. The implementation would employ Moodle for course management, Elgg or Mahara for e‐portfolios, and TENCompetence open‐source software for defining and organizing competencies.
– Research outcomes regarding online communities and lifelong competency development may also apply to the professional development of special educators in neighbouring Balkan countries, especially those new to or soon to enter the EU.
– Internet‐based competency development and lifelong learning for special educators in Bulgaria, one of the EU's newest member countries, is investigated.