Collaboration with children and teachers through videoconferencing: Possibilities for teacher education

Year: 2012

Author: Pressick-Kilborn, Kimberley, Perry, Rachel, Kearney, Matthew

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


Pre-service student teachers frequently experience distinct contexts in which they are positioned either as a student – on the university campus – or as a teacher – during practicum placements in schools. Campus-based learning experiences provide opportunities for thinking like a teacher, while the practicum experience enables students to take action as a teacher. While these descriptions exaggerate polarisation in the life of a student teacher, an identity either as a student or as a teacher is reinforced through the roles played in each of these physical and social contexts for learning.

This research project investigated the efficacy of new hybrid learning spaces in teacher education. It is set in the contexts of science and drama education, exploring pre-service teacher learning with a focus on identity formation, particularly the roles that student teachers play. It brings together university- and school-based learning in a hybrid of time and place using videoconferencing between teacher education students and staff, and school-based teachers and children. Teacher education staff and student teachers involved in two primary science and technology education core subjects and one primary drama education elective subject participated in collaborative activities with school-based teachers and children in Sydney primary schools. Videoconference activities included conversations with children and teachers  (1) in preparation for, and reflection on, drama performances for children, and (2) to inform student teacher considerations of the implementation of a particular science program and a science day facilitated 'live' at a primary school by pre-service teachers. Videoconferencing also was used as the interface for drama performances.

This study adds to the growing literature base on the use of emerging technologies and new learning spaces in teacher education. Data were gathered through researchers engaging in peer observation of each other's teaching, focus groups with student teachers, interviews with school-based teachers, and student teachers' and lecturers' written reflections. In presenting the study's findings, analysis and interpretation focus on the construction of the roles of the pre-service teachers, school-based and university-based staff, and explore how the videoconference contexts co-created contributed to constructing roles and possibilities for identity development for those involved.  We also consider subject-specific nuances as well as opportunities for application in future teaching practice and pedagogical understanding.