It’s April 2020 and I’m writing this at home in lockdown during the Covid 19 pandemic. In these terrible times, one of my ways of maintaining a semblance of ‘normal life’ is to take refuge in my research, an enjoyable and – usually - productive process for me. But this was not always so. In my early years as a teacher educator, I struggled to research and write. A brief autobiography will explain why. So it is not that we did not see the need if not the necessity for an increase of use of ICT in our teacher education programme. It is just that many of us hadn’t found the time yet… or the energy to invest in our own professional development first… And then the Corona monster crept over the world. And crept upon our teacher education programmes we tho ught we kept so safely. And we all started a steep learning curve in ICT-based teacher education. Which I would describe as a double-faced process capturing both day and night, dark and light.
Let’s start in the light! The new reality seems to have created a new professional freedom, which sounds so contradictory to any form of lockdown we have to go through at the same time! By this professional freedom I mean that I feel space for discovery of the many ICT tools available. I am allowed to spent (a lot of) professional time to explore them and learn by doing. Furthermore, in accordance with what we know about the effectiveness of discovery learning, which guarantees a cognitive overload if not structured by worked out examples, guidance and tools (Kirschner, Sweller & Clarke, 2006; Lazonder & Harmsen, 2016), we have started to share experiences, tips and tops, tools and concrete materials in the team. We help each other with feedback, online brainstorming and collaborative design and most important: we motivate each other to enter a process of trial and error in which it is no shame to make mistakes, or temporarily not know what and how to do. We have become what Drent and Meelissen (2008) called ‘personal entrepreneurs’ in innovative ICT use in teacher education. We have increased our so-called implementation capacity by sensing and seizing the many new opportunities and reconfiguring “old” pedagogical insights in new daylight (cf. Furnival, Boaden & Walshe, 2019).
An example of sensing, seizing and reconfiguring
In one of our modules, students read scientific research articles on Deci and Ryan’s Self-Determination Theory. In three normally face to face discussion groups, students exchange ideas on autonomy, relation and competence from a theoretical perspective, and translate what they learn from research to their own school practices. During the corona crisis, we have turned the face to face sessions into online group work. And we adapted the main topic of the module into the design question ‘how autonomy, relation and competence occur in online lessons with pupils, and if and how the research findings on autonomy, relation and competence apply to the new online learning circumstances students experience’. Both we as teacher educators and our students enjoy the collective inquiry of answers to this question and we are learning together.
Turning teacher education into an ICT-based programme also has its darker moments. Let’s be realistic and mention them, shortly! The ICT options are simply overwhelming and within one week I felt totally insecure and didn’t know where to start my own professional development. I then decided not to read new lists of possibilities anymore, but start my own list of tools and approaches “I started to get to know a little bit”. A much shorter list. But it gave me new confidence and a starting point for further exploration. But the (time) pressure is high. Turning offline education in online classes is a time-consuming activity!
Lengthening of the days
It’s May, and we are all heading towards summer. The days are lengthening so the hours of daylight outnumber the hours of darkness. In broad daylight, I see a team of professionals that, driven by a deeply-felt responsibility to raise next generations of teachers, is willing, prepared and capable of learning together. New reflections arise upon who we are, what we are doing and how we are doing (it). Good examples of practices emerge that illustrate how human it is to do your very best and not know all of it at the same time. It is learning in its true sense.
Drent, M., & Meelissen, M. (2008). Which factors obstruct or stimulate teacher educators to use ICT innovatively? Computers & Education, 51(1), 187-199.
Furnival, J., Boaden, R., Walshe, K. (2019). A dynamic capabilities view of improvement capacity. Journal of Health Organization and Management, 33(7/8), 821-834.
Kirschner, P.A., Sweller, J., & Clark, R.E. (2006). Why minimal guidance during instruction does not work: An analysis of the failure of constructivist, discovery, problem-based, experiential, and inquiry-based learning. Educational Psychologist, 41(2), 75-86.Lazonder, A.W., & Harmsen, R. (2016). Meta-analysis of inquiry-based learning: Effects of guidance. Review of Educational Research, 86(3), 681-718.