Zoom-ing out: The impact of international online practicum opportunities on pre-service teachers' development

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Abstract

One of our many stark realizations during the global pandemic is the general unpreparedness of teachers for technology-dependent teaching. Significant gaps in teacher education (TE) programs can be partially blamed. And this, regardless of there being no shortage of emerging models to respond to this dilemma, even before the pandemic struck. Evidently, from the hand wrenching and unpreparedness of most education systems in both developed and developing countries when faced with a move to online spaces during these difficult times, serious shortcomings in producing highly effective e-learning teachers still exist. Our 12-week qualitative action research study took place just prior to the crisis. The study was aimed at providing preservice EFL teachers in Chile with a practical hands-on opportunity to teach in distance learning scenarios with small groups of higher education military students in the Czech Republic. The focus was on the influence of this unique experiential e-learning initiative on the identities and capabilities of a group of thirteen, 3rd year pre-service teachers. The online sessions were aligned with 21st century and sociocultural learning theories and conducted with Zoom videoconferencing using an interactive discussion-based and learner-centred pedagogy. Ethnographic data collection tools included a Likert-scale student questionnaire, individual interviews with both Chilean teachers and Czech learners, observations and extensive field notes from online recorded sessions and correspondence. A thematic coding analysis approach to the data sets revealed clear changes to the pre-service teachers' confidence and emerging expertise in applying e-learning practices, in this case in an online distance learning program, as an integral component of their present practicum and future in-service teaching. For most, their participation in the initiative meant stepping up in uncharacteristic ways to volunteer and then stepping outside the traditional pedagogy paradigms that characterize their TE programs. The emerging changes to the professional identities and e-learning capabilities of these pre-service teachers as a result of the online distance learning practicum sessions clearly emphasize where our focus in TE should be. The integration of virtual learning across all levels of the education system even beyond periods of crisis is inevitable. Our TE practicums and programs must reflect that reality.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 19th European Conference on e-Learning, ECEL 2020
EditorsCarsten Busch, Martin Steinicke, Tilo Wendler
PublisherAcademic Conferences and Publishing International Limited
Pages95-103
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781912764785
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Event19th European Conference on e-Learning, ECEL 2020 - Berlin, Germany
Duration: 28 Oct 202030 Oct 2020

Publication series

NameProceedings of the European Conference on e-Learning, ECEL
Volume2020-October
ISSN (Print)2048-8637
ISSN (Electronic)2048-8645

Conference

Conference19th European Conference on e-Learning, ECEL 2020
Country/TerritoryGermany
CityBerlin
Period28/10/2030/10/20

Keywords

  • Collaborative learning
  • Distance learning pedagogical practicums
  • E-learning teacher skills
  • Preservice teacher education
  • Teacher identity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Education

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