L. Sercu, N. Kempenaers, L. Strobbe

University of Leuven (K.U.Leuven) (BELGIUM)
Any curriculum reform today must consider in which ways learning can be moved beyond class boundaries. One way of achieving out-of-classroom learning is to incorporate web 2.0. tools in the curriculum. In this presentation we will argue that students need a common knowledge base before being able to use web 2.0 tools and be interactively involved in the learning process, i.e. discussing online materials, sharing ideas and collaborating towards the creation of a new product. First we will briefly introduce the virtual learning environment (VLE) within which we work as well as the specific authoring tool we used to create our on-line learning materials. Second we will focus on the integration of the pedagogical principles behind the online courses, providing some examples of learning materials. We will finish the presentation with a discussion of how teacher education changed after the introduction of online learning in teacher education.

The specific educational context in focus is that of teacher education at the University of Leuven (K.U.Leuven), Belgium. More in particular, we will zoom in on language teachers in training and how they participate in the VLE called Toledo. Toledo not only offers the Blackboard (BB) course management system, but also other learning tools, such as QuestionMark Perception, a Wiki farm and a Blog service. Other building blocks linking into BB are ICT tools, administrative data tools, authentication tools as well as video-, audio- and library repositories.

Within this VLE, 3 online courses have been developed by means of the authoring software Lectora. As we will demonstrate, the courses provide teacher trainees with a common knowledge base, related to language teaching methodology (Think LT!), intercultural and multilingual education (Think M&M!) and Content-and-Language Integrated Learning (CLIL in TE). Unlike regular textbooks, the online courses offer common knowledge bases in a non-linear way. Students can personalize their learning trajectory and access information in different ways: they can start from elaborated lesson plans and then move on to theoretical criteria and principles; they can begin with an overview of alternative approaches to teaching, say vocabulary, and then proceed to examples of learning materials; their point of departure can also be official guidelines which link into ways to assess learners and evaluate the efficiency of teaching. In addition to information linked to the common knowledge bases, the online materials contain self-tests and test as well as numerous learning tasks, in many cases supported by (audio)-(visual) learning materials. These extra tasks incite students to critically reflect on the information provided. Moreover, they provide ways of testing their understanding of the course content.

We will finish the presentation with a discussion of how teacher education changed after the introduction of online learning in teacher education. We will touch upon aspects such as the students' level of involvement and learning experiences, the better bridged well-known gap between theory and teaching practice, the position of the online courses in the teacher education curriculum, the strengthened bonds between internship schools and the teacher education institution, and the enhanced possibilities for online web 2.0 collaborative learning.