A.M. Hunt

University of Canterbury (NEW ZEALAND)
Teachers need to be prepared to become adaptive experts able to make the most of technology with their students. Inquiry projects within pre-service teacher education are one of the best ways to establish such reflective practice.

This paper illustrates innovative best practice within a leading program of pre-service teacher education that can be studied online as well as on campus. In 2014 a personalized learning Inquiry process connected and empowered fifty -five online learning student teachers living throughout New Zealand. Online study was blended with a one day on-site workshop. This Inquiry project was situated within one of the final two courses of a 15 month program.

As the course coordinator and teacher-researcher the author was able to experience, observe and listen first hand to the perspectives of these students contributing to her research into flexible and distance learning. The students’ Inquiry projects provided personal ownership, a shared deep engagement and a powerful group experience of being connected, confident and collaborative learners and teachers. More than one third of these future school teachers focused on technology to enhance learning in primary schools.

This presentation will share a sample of the students’ Inquiry ‘Big Questions’ and ‘Presentations’ from within such current topics as ‘Modern Learning Environments’, ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) and ‘I-pads in the classroom’. The students were required to record their experiences, findings and reflections in a Journal of their choice and support each other on line. These and other online interactions form the evidence base for the research.

Within the final week of their Inquiry the students prepared and shared within an online Forum site a ‘Contextual Statement’ summarizing their Inquiry journey along with a ‘Presentation’ using a digital tool of their choice and sought required peer feedback. A range of Inquiry presentation screen shots provide illustrations. The peer and lecturer reciprocal learning and teaching experienced was significant as was the self-motivation to put this learning into practice on their final five week Professional Practice in a school and when they became teachers the following school term.

How an Inquiry based approach is best included in other programs will be discussed during the presentation, along with possible future research. As new qualifications are designed and blended e-learning courses updated the presenter suggests student feedback is fed forward to ensure courses are engaging and maximize the learning for all involved.