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This project was carried out initially with lecturers at South Tyneside College in partnership with Netskills who worked together to design and develop six e-learning modules to be embedded into initial teacher training programmes.
The modules were then introduced into other northeast colleges for embedding into their initial teacher education programmes and this is the result of the findings of one part of that project.
These modules will be freely available to download from JORUM at the end of April.
These findings result from a Jisc funded project to develop six e-learning modules for initial teacher training programmes.
The reason we thought the modules were needed was because there was not a great requirement for trainee teachers to demonstrate digital literacy within existing teacher training programmes.
We wanted the trainees to experience engaging, challenging, scenario-based and collaborative e-learning as opposed to their experience of often passive and unchallenging e-learning.
A requirement of some of the modules required the trainees to undertake collaborative on-line learning with their peers. This presentation discusses the barriers as seen by some of the trainees.
Perhaps not surprisingly many trainees had poor digital literacy skills at the start of the course and many had never engaged in any form of online collaboration.
It was felt that we should have scaffolded their learning and introduced them to some form of simple collaborative activity early on in the course and built up to the skills required of them to complete the module.
Many trainees were skilled in the use of the e-learning tools but resisted collaboration as they were unsure as to the ‘social etiquette’. Some of these concerns were: Is the tone ‘formal’ or ‘informal’? How much should I contribute? Do I correct any posts which I disagree with? Do I wait for a response before posting another comment?
Future on-line activities would be accompanied by ‘ground rules’ to ensure these concerns were addressed.
Whilst some trainees were huge fans of social networking they resisted the opportunity to work collaboratively in a more formal setting. They felt that social networking was something they did in their own time and that this activity was encroaching into their ‘personal space’.
Some trainees expressed the view that they would normally choose the people they collaborated with on-line and did not welcome the fact that this was being imposed upon them.
It was the felt by the tutors that in order to prepare the trainees for employability they would have to accept that they would not necessarily have a choice of they were expected to collaborate with at work therefore they should prepare themselves for this situation.
However there was some agreement that a small scale action research project would be interesting in measuring the levels of collaboration between groups where some groups were able to choose their grouping and others were not – this has yet to take place.
As the previous slide indicated, this barrier was predominantly form trainees who were adept at social networking and were regular users of sites such as facebook. They indicated that they would have been more likely to engage in the collaboration if they were able to use sites such as facebook. They felt that having to go via the VLE was cumbersome and time taking.
As indicated on the previous slide it was felt that using the VLE prepared them for a more formal type of collaboration however we have not excluded the option of using other means and giving trainees more autonomy.
There is a lot of guidance given to tutors as to how they should manage group work in the classroom however this is lacking when it comes to on-line groups.
Some tutors were unsure of the following:
Should they monitor the input of their students?
Should they bring students back on task if they start discussing other issues?
Should they post comments themselves?
Should they allow groups to self-govern or not?
There are two schools of thought as to whether or not to assess on-line collaboration, on one hand the student is more likely to contribute if their efforts are to be rewarded ie assessed and on the other hand it is felt that some students resent the fact that the end product will be awarded a grade when their individual effort will go unrecognised.
One solution was to award an individual grade for a final piece of work whilst at the same time making it clear that the final piece of work was dependent upon the input of all members of the group and that this would significantly improve grades.
The jury is out as to whether to asses or not – it depends upon the task, the students and the outcomes.
Collaborative learning on line
How the trainee teachers
responded to collaborative