Webfolio: An online learning community to help link university studies and classroom practice in preservice teacher education
AbstractThe Webfolio project was developed at James Cook University to extend students' professional learning beyond what is taught in lectures or gleaned through the practicum. Through web based case studies, early childhood and primary preservice teachers explored topics of professional significance to their growth as teachers. Each case study included a range of media, such as: work samples; audiotaped conversations; links to websites; telephone and in person professional opinions from practising teachers, principals, social workers and welfare agents; and online discussion with other participants, including students, teachers and university lecturers.
Case studies were based on authentic classroom situations; ones which student teachers may never encounter during their practicums, therefore requiring them to immerse themselves in the professional world of teaching into which they were moving. There were no single, correct solutions; rather learners were encouraged to reflect, imagine and develop multiple and often non-traditional solutions. This exploration was supported within a learning community, where participants were positioned as co-learners, scaffolding each other's learning while building links to the professional world. These links may assist in bridging the gap that some neophyte teachers feel when beginning their professional teaching careers.
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