All across the nation, school districts are under pressure to raise the quality of their teachers by training them better or monitoring them more closely.
They might be better off just giving them a chance to talk to each other, says Carrie Leana, the Gordon H. Love professor of organizations and management at the University of Pittsburgh's Katz Graduate School of Business.
In an award-winning study of the Pittsburgh Public Schools, Dr. Leana found that in the schools where teachers talked to each other the most about their jobs, and where the principals did the best job of staying in touch with the community, students had noticeably higher reading and math test scores.
Even more significant was the discovery that these communication networks had a much bigger impact on test scores than the experience or credentials of the staff did.
Given the time constraints teachers work under, augmenting face to face interactions with online modes, making it easier for them to share student work and data, publish the results of their collaborations, etc. is a no brainer. The costs of setting up the services are minimal, the techonology is easy to use. Teachers just need access.
It doesn't need to be any more complicated than that.