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Title: Taking the 'Tyranny' Out of Distance: Enhancing Professional Experience for Distance Education Students
Contributor(s): Masters, Yvonne  (author)orcid 
Publication Date: 2009
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Abstract: Professional experience can be an emotional time for any preservice teacher, particularly the first placement. For distance education students, the natural tension of working in an unfamiliar setting is exacerbated by the "tyranny of distance": they often need to find their own placement, have rarely had face-to-face contact with any university personnel, are often without a peer support group, and have not had the advantage of preparatory lectures at university. These students also have times when their placements are too distant for focused supervision. In 2008, the Professional Experience Office at the University of New England began trialling a variety of measures to assist external students before and throughout their professional experience and new initiatives are being trialled in 2009. This paper describes the initial trial of an on-line support structure, using the Sakai Open Source Learning Management System, and begins to evaluate the efficacy of that trial. The support structure provided students with a variety of resources that had to be studied before professional experience began and with a structure that was designed to guide them through a reflective process for their teaching portfolio. There was also the opportunity for the students to be involved in electronic forums where they could ask for advice from university personnel and interact with their peers. Evaluation of this on-line approach revealed that the support and feedback, accessed asynchronously by preservice teachers before, when, and after they were in-the-field, had the potential to strengthen and enhance their teaching during the professional experience placement. However, ongoing technical difficulties sometimes caused more frustration rather than the structure providing assistance. From early data collection, it was also clear that greater assistance was required when students were engaged in professional experience placements. The employment of Practicum Liaison officers and the introduction of virtual supervision are new innovations that are currently being trialled. Research is also being conducted through a trial of simulated teaching through the use of a Second Life classroom. This last is in its infancy, but will hopefully be expanded in 2010.
Publication Type: Conference Publication
Conference Details: ATEA 2009: Australian Teacher Education Association National Conference - Teacher education crossing borders: Cultures, contexts, communities and curriculum, Albury, Australia, 28th June - 1st July, 2009
Source of Publication: Paper presented at 'Teacher education crossing borders: Cultures, contexts, communities and curriculum' the annual conference of the Australian Teacher Education Association (ATEA)
Publisher: Australian Teacher Education Association (ATEA)
Place of Publication: Queensland, Australia
Fields of Research (FoR) 2008: 139999 Education not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2008: 939999 Education and Training not elsewhere classified
HERDC Category Description: E2 Non-Refereed Scholarly Conference Publication
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Appears in Collections:Conference Publication
School of Education

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