Using Blogs to Foster Inquiry, Collaboration, and Feedback in Pre-Service Teacher Education
Carol R. Rinke (Gettysburg College, USA), Divonna M. Stebick (Gettysburg College, USA), Lauren Schaefer (Carroll County Public Schools, USA) and M. Evan Gaffney (Gettysburg College, USA)
Copyright: © 2009
This chapter presents a critical case study on the use of information technology in a pre-service teacher education program. The authors integrated Weblogs (blogs) into two constructivist-oriented teacher preparation courses with the goal of helping students learn to think like a teacher through enhanced inquiry, collaboration, and feedback. The authors found that, through the use of blogs, pre-service teaching candidates grew in their abilities to reflect on their own teaching and to provide constructive comments to peers. The authors’ experience also indicated that while instructor and peer feedback via blogs was valuable, it functioned best when paired with face-to-face meetings between the instructors and students. They discussed design principles for combining online and face-to-face environments and offer possibilities for the expanded use of blogs in pre-service teacher education.
As teacher educators, we support a foundation of constructivist principles in our practice. Our classes, advanced undergraduate courses for pre-service secondary teachers, work toward the ultimate goal of teaching how to think like a teacher (Crowe & Berry, 2007). We believe that beginning teachers should have not only the knowledge and skills necessary for teaching, but also the ability to think critically about instances of classroom practice from a variety of perspectives. Five key principles for thinking like a teacher include:
Principle One: Thinking like a teacher involves learning to see teaching from the viewpoint of the learner. Experiencing the role of learner is an important means of developing an understanding of the learner’s viewpoint
Principle Two: Prospective teachers need opportunities to “see into” the thinking like a teacher of experienced others
Principle Three: Prospective teachers need opportunities to try out thinking like a teacher in order to develop their thinking as a teacher
Principle Four: Prospective teachers need scaffolding (guidelines, questions, structures) to support them in the process as they begin thinking like a teacher
Principle Five: Developing responsive relationships is at the heart of learning to think like a teacher and at the heart of supporting our students (Crowe & Berry, 2007, p. 33)
We believe that these principles create a core set of abilities necessary for pre-service teachers to reflect and think deeply about their practice and learn from experience. Exposure to these higher-level abilities during the undergraduate years can prepare future teachers to continue learning from their practice and interacting with communities of learners throughout their professional lives.