Do beginning teachers know how to participate and interact in online discussion? Outcomes from a Victorian case study

Kathy Jordan


The use of online discussion has a long history in distance education and higher education generally, and has recently been proposed as a means of supporting beginning teachers as they face the challenge of being new to the profession. Often using text-based asynchronous programs, online discussion is advocated to enable teachers to interact with one another, and therefore remove teacher isolation and encourage reflective practice (Zhao & Rop, 2001). This paper reports on a small scale study of 64 beginning teachers, who were asked to simulate online discussion, as a means of preparing them for later participation and interaction online. Transcripts were analysed using Henri's (1992) model of content analysis, revealing considerable one-way posts and few interactive posts. This study suggests that rather than being 'digital natives' (Prensky, 2001) these beginning teachers lacked the skills to participate and interact online.

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