Saturday, 25 April 2015

Baring one's soul, online: can it be good for trainee teachers?

As a language teacher whose interests encompass both teacher training and language teaching involving the use of ICT, I am naturally interested in exploring areas of possible synergy!

Thus, I was more than happy last year (2014) to discover that an opportunity existed for me to engage in some action research in support of the short courses unit within the Centre of Applied Linguistics at Warwick University, with a view to writing up my findings in my MA dissertation. 

A group of Japanese teachers from the university of Hiroshima were due to engage in teaching practice at a Coventry secondary school during the middle six weeks of a 15-week course based more or less on CELTA/TKT. Each week, I posed structured questions on Edmodo, and invited trainees to reflect openly (from the group's point of view) there on their teaching practice experiences.

I'm pleased to say this obtained a distinction grade - but needless to say, a dissertation is a lengthy piece of work. However, at a conference at Corvinus University yesterday I had the opportunity to condense the key ideas into a 15-minute presentation: the slides are now published below.

What happened online was one thing (for which see my slides), but the focus group findings at the end were remarkable: almost all participants strongly approved of using Edmodo for reflection! Many participants took to the approach immediately: their feedback on the merits of "sharing", the virtues of asynchronicity, and the disappearance of "face" issues are especially noteworthy. One participant even went so far as to indicate that any sense of "shame" that might be felt when admitting a mistake in front of another person disappeared entirely in this new environment. It felt altogether safer.

Hand on heart, it might have been possible to design an even better study, involving smarter structured questioning and a tighter integration of the online and face-to-face training. Nevertheless, I think the case for further research is strong! Blended learning has a lot going for it, wouldn't you say? I'd love to hear back from you.

No comments:

Post a Comment