Blog Phenomenology: Student Teachers' Views of Learning to Teach Economics

Blog Phenomenology: Student Teachers' Views of Learning to Teach Economics

Micheal M. van Wyk (University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa)
DOI: 10.4018/IJWLTT.2018040105

Abstract

The higher education sector faces new opportunities and dilemmas such as budgetary constraints, changing student profiles, demanding quality assurance practices, efficient course delivery modes, the changing role of academics, and reliable assessment practices. At the same time, exciting opportunities are presented by Web 2.0, for example blogs, and information technology-integrated teaching and learning sites. This article explores the usefulness of blogs in supporting Postgraduate Certificate of Education and Bachelor of Education students who are learning to teach Economics in open distance-learning environments. An Economics blog was created for students during their teaching practice period to critically reflect on their learning processes and share teaching practice experiences to enhance professional growth. A qualitative research approach, employing an interpretive phenomenology, was used to study phenomena that are experienced by student teachers. Findings showed the usefulness of blogs as a supportive e-learning tool in constructing a teaching philosophy and the identity of student teachers. Furthermore, blogs emerged as an empowering and attractive way of fostering self-directed learning and providing evidence of achievement for warranting purposes – particularly in the context of a teacher education course at an open distance-learning university. The positive lived experiences of student teachers indicated that the subject teacher mentoring and coaching effectively facilitated teaching Economics. Moreover, it emerged that blogs embracing reflective practices presented the opportunity for self-appraisal on personal values, teaching styles and strategies of learning, thus enhancing self-efficacy.
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Introduction

The emergence of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the twenty-first century brought challenges as well as opportunities for the education sector to accelerate the knowledge economy – a massively impactful paradigm shift. Education is currently experiencing rapid changes due to the increase in technology-based networked communities. In order for the higher education sector to remain relevant in and compatible to this challenging society, universities need to commit themselves to the process of continuous change or become redundant. Specific dilemmas include budgetary constraints, changing student profiles, demanding quality assurance practices, efficient course delivery modes, the changing role of academics, reliable assessment practices, and the impact of globalisation. These issues place high demands on institutions of higher learning to deliver quality teaching and learning. On the other hand, exciting opportunities and possibilities arise – in particular Web 2.0 and 3.0 information technology-integrated teaching and learning sites. One particular e-learning platform myUnisa, which uses blogs as a social media tool, emerged as a technology-integrated teaching strategy to support students in an open distance-learning approach. From the outset, blogs have served as personal social networking tools. More recently, blogs have facilitated the formation of online social networked communities and have thus expanded to more extensive uses in education. This paper explores the usefulness of blogs in supporting Postgraduate Certificate of Education and Bachelor of Education students who are learning to teach Economics in open distance-learning environments.

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