In recent years there has been a move towards offering University courses in an online mode to increase access for marginalised groups of students and to cater for students that wish to complete their studies whilst still continuing to be employed during normal business hours. Students in pre-service teaching programs, like other students, have taken to this form of study in large numbers. This move towards online pre-service courses of study is not without its critics with an often heard comment from practicing teachers being 'how can you prepare students to be teachers when you don’t even get to meet them face to face'. This paper reports on the findings of a group of teacher education academics who implemented synchronous cooperative learning strategies in their online courses with the aim of giving students a face to face classroom experience whilst working in an online medium (Blackboard CollaborateTM). Quantitative and qualitative data were collected using an online survey and online synchronous focus groups. The findings of this study demonstrate the need for students to have access to synchronous interactions with peers and lecturers as well as the need for further investigation into developing engaging pedagogy for online learners. The results provide a stimulus for further discussions and deliberations by higher education practitioners moving towards offering online pre-service education programs.
Annual Australian Teacher Education Association Conference, Sydney, Australia 6-9 July 2014
Proceedings of the 2014 Australian Teacher Education Association Conference / pp.1-18