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The growth of social media has yielded a range of virtual communities focused on issues related to education (Carpenter & Krutka, 2014; Hur & Brush, 2009). These communities, which operate across a range of different platforms, create an evolving landscape for users to navigate. Moreover, interactions within and across virtual communities has become a norm within society at large as well as within mathematics education. The Math Twitter Blog-o-Sphere (MTBoS), Mathematics Stack Exchange, specialized Facebook groups, and myNCTM are just a few examples of communities that are currently popular with mathematics teachers and educators in North America. Similarly, students of mathematics use virtual communities to make records of information that, in earlier times, would have been available through more informal channels. For example, solution clearinghouse sites (e.g., Chegg. com) allow students to request or post answers to problems sets and teacher-rating sites (e.g., offer a platform where students can trade information about their instructors.

With the ubiquity of internet-enabled devices, negotiating virtual communities has become a norm within mathematics teaching and learning. Consequently, educators, both new and old, who participate in these communities are encountering issues and ideas that they likely have limited experience with. This raises a number of questions for mathematics teacher educators seeking to help themselves, preservice teachers (PSTs), and current teachers understand these virtual communities. For example: How can the differences, similarities, and affordances of communities be highlighted? How can the boundaries that define and separate these communities be made clear? Within this chapter, we seek to address these and related questions by providing a framework for understanding these communities. We then use this framework to examine several communities currently popular within North America.


Book chapter from Borders in Mathematics Pre-Service Teacher Education. Originally published by Springer. 2020.

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