Webfolio: An online learning community to help link university studies and classroom practice in preservice teacher education

Sorin, Reesa SM (2004) Webfolio: An online learning community to help link university studies and classroom practice in preservice teacher education. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 20 (1). pp. 101-113.

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The Webfolio project was developed at James Cook University to extend students’ professional learning beyond what is taught in lectures or gleaned through the practicum. The Webfolio project trialled alternative platforms and approaches to teaching and learning. It was developed as an online learning environment that incorporated both real people and virtual web resources.

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 other websites; telephone and in-person professional opinions from practicing teachers, principals, social workers and welfare agents; and online discussion with other participants, including student teachers, teachers and university lecturers.

The approach taken was an inquiry one, which focuses on case study as an entry point; challenging participants to think substantively as they research and explore topics of professional significance to solve the problems presented in the case studies. 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 are 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.

As students developed their ideas, they were encouraged to document their ideas and the processes they went through to resolve each case, and from this documentation to create components of an electronic portfolio that address generic skills for teachers and graduates of James Cook University. The university is currently developing plans for electronic portfolios for students, and it was hoped that the work done in Webfolio could be transferred to the university’s model once it is complete. At the moment, this documentation can be used in hard copy as part of a professional portfolio.

Item ID: 485
Item Type: Article (UNSPECIFIED)
ISSN: 1449-5554
Keywords: Online learning community, Preservice teacher education
Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2006
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1399 Other Education > 139999 Education not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9399 Other Education and Training > 939999 Education and Training not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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