Teacher education through digital space: Enquiring into students online participation during a blended teacher training course

Helen Coker

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOtherpeer-review

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Teacher training across four geographically disparate campuses has been developed through enquiry into the digital structures which shape the online space. Exploring student's patterns of participation factors which may influence their engagement have been highlighted. It is suggested that the online space and structures therein act as mediating artefacts.
The enquiry focused on the online space of a federated university in Scotland. The teacher training course delivered used a blended approach; VLE, Video conferencing (VC) sessions, local workshops and school placements. The course has been designed with a strong theoretical underpinning and a critically enquiring approach has been taken to development.
Using data to observe patterns of participation factors which might influence participation were considered. The online space has been structured using the GTCS (General Teaching Council of Scotland) ‘standards for initial registration' as the narrative template. The enquiry was interested in the ways in which the space acted as a mediating artefact in relation to enabling and constraining student agency.
Research methods were informed by an ethnographic style of methodology. Data was collected from the Course Reports system in Blackboard. This provided one layer of evidence; evidence of the students and tutors experience of the space was gathered through ongoing feedback surveys (embedded into each session), discussion based feedback sessions, assignments and e-portfolios.
Research has found that many of the social cues students use in face to face environments are lost in online spaces (Slagter van Tyron and Bishop, 2009).The development of identity within online spaces has been found to be effected by the social aspects of practice: Identity and learning are closely intertwined, particularly in the context of teacher education where there is a transition from student to professional. The enquiry choose an ethnographic style in order to acknowledge the cultural and social situated-ness of the students as they negotiate meaning and enter the professional community of practice.
Patterns of participation were found to differ between high and low achieving students. Students worked in groups of varying size: the case study suggested social aspects (group-size) may have been a factor affecting student's participation online. The space itself and the tools and language used appeared to act as a mediating artefact. Developments which were informed by reflections on these findings included restructuring the space itself; developing the coherence of weekly tasks and drawing them together on a single discussion board; the addition of small group online webinars and regular collaborative activities.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2015
EventBritish Education Research Association : Annual Conference 2015 - Queen’s University, Belfast , United Kingdom
Duration: 15 Sept 201517 Sept 2015


ConferenceBritish Education Research Association
Abbreviated titleBERA
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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