Enhancement Process of Didactic Strategies in a Degree Course for Pre-Service Teachers

Enhancement Process of Didactic Strategies in a Degree Course for Pre-Service Teachers

Adolfina Pérez Garcias (Universitat de les Illes Balears, Palma, Spain) and Victoria I. Marín (Universitat de les Illes Balears, Palma, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/IJWLTT.2017100102
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This paper presents a study on the enhancement of didactic strategies based on the idea of personal learning environments (PLE). It was conducted through three iterative cycles during three consecutive academic years according to the phases of design-based research applied to teaching in a university course for pre-service teachers in the University of the Balearic Islands (Spain). Four teachers, one researcher and over 600 students took part in the study. The results show that both teachers and students were satisfied with the didactic strategy based on PLE management (Personal Learning Environment). There were also resulting signs showing that the students transferred what they had learnt to other contexts, and the strategy designed by the lecturers showed continuity. All this leads to the conclusion that the foundations have been set for a change in methodology.
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The dimensions of university education enhancement processes currently include the integration of technology as an object of learning as well as an educational environment. Some authors consider information and communication technologies to be the factors which drive changes in methodology. In any case, the integration of technology in learning and teaching implies a process of redefinition and improvement of the teaching practice.

The knowledge society creates new training needs in order to solve problems related to information. The current enormous potential for accessing information and the further potential which is looming with the advent of Web 3.0 generates the need for individuals who able to move among large quantities of information and establish mechanisms to manage and select digital information which is relevant to their interests. In addition, the communication processes that are developed through the use of social tools concerning information exchange and personal relationships create new ways of learning and configure new environments in which formal, non-formal and informal learning contexts are intertwined.

In this context, the development of the Personal Learning Environment (PLE) is relevant as a didactic strategy to encourage active learning processes, centered on the students, and the development of interaction and information management procedures that enable the individual to learn throughout their life.

According to Adell and Castañeda (2010), a PLE is the set of tools, information sources, connections and activities that each person regularly uses to learn. The PLE is structured around three components, which are (Wheeler, 2009): knowledge and information management, content creation and connection with others through the information and content that the individuals publish and their personal relationships. The sum of these connections between the PLEs of the individuals is called Personal Learning Network (PLN). The PLE assumes that each person manages information, creates content and contributes with their knowledge and shared resources to create a learning community or personal learning network. Cabero (2013) states that PLE means to reflect on the processes concerning how people learn.

The PLE concept can be framed in the principles of open and flexible learning (Salinas, 2013) and the theories of self-regulated learning (Cabero, 2013), in as much as the students, guided by the teacher, manage and take decisions concerning their own learning process and adjust it to their needs. For instance, the student selects the learning objectives, the tools that he will use, the type of materials and information sources, the people from which and with whom he will learn, designs the learning strategy, decides where to learn and what their assessment will be. And all these choices allow the integration of formal, non-formal and informal learning contexts. Participation in these new learning methods implies a need to develop competencies for the management of digital information and self-regulation (Urbina, Cormenzana, Conde & Ordinas, 2013).

Being competent in information management implies disposing of knowledge, abilities and attitudes to deal with information in an effective way and using it to solve problems related to information and to build knowledge. It involves knowing how to identify the need for information, how to search and find information in an effective way, how to select it, evaluate it, organise it, retrieve it, transform it into knowledge and share it with others (Area & Guarro, 2012; Larraz, Espuny & Gisbert, 2013).

Self-regulated learning involves students developing a series of competencies related to planning (establish goals, time and effort planning); control and regulation (of motivation, effort, context of task performance, need for help, time) to apply learning strategies, self-assessment and adopt corrective measures (Torrano & González, 2007; Cleary, Callan & Zimmerman, 2012; Cabero, 2013). University students able to self-regulate must be conscious of their own knowledge and able to reflect on their own learning ability. In other words, they are able to establish what they know, what they do not know, and what they do not know and must understand; they are able to analyze their own learning and adapt it to different contexts.

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