Preservice teachers negotiating competing versions of 'the good intern'in a virtual professional learning community

Year: 2001

Author: Leiminer, Michele, Mayer, Diane

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Within higher education, information and communications technologies (ICT) are being used in course delivery. Within teacher education programs, ICT is being increasingly used in the practicum components of the programs. Although there is a large amount of literature in the area, most describe innovative ICT practice or simply advocate for its use. There is a need for more detailed and critical research. Postmodernist perspectives on ICT emphasise the potential of these new technologies to afford new and numerous spaces and roles for interactants. In this paper we explore this postmodernist conceptualisation by analysing how participants (secondary preservice teachers and university advisers) negotiate competing versions of ‘the good intern’ in their bulletin board postings on a WebCT site. This site was designed to enable and encourage professional discussion and learning amongst preservice teachers and university advisers while the preservice teachers were completing a school-based internship. Our analysis suggests that in this virtual professional learning space, preservice teachers negotiated between a teacher educator version of ‘good intern’ informed by issues of critical reflection and social justice and a teacher version based on the practicalities of teaching. This task of negotiation presented by the virtual professional learning community was an extremely complex and difficult accomplishment for the preservice teachers. The virtual space involved preservice teachers managing competing versions of ‘the good intern’ that in traditional supervision models had been separated and to a large extent, had remained invisible. These findings highlight the invisible work that preservice teachers engage in during their practicum, and direct attention to efforts that can made towards planning ICT learning communities that meet the needs of teacher educators and preservice teachers.