A Teacher Educator's Meaning-Making From a Hybrid “Online Teaching Fellows” Professional Learning Experience: Toward Literacy Practices for Teaching and Learning in Multimodal Contexts

A Teacher Educator's Meaning-Making From a Hybrid “Online Teaching Fellows” Professional Learning Experience: Toward Literacy Practices for Teaching and Learning in Multimodal Contexts

Christi Edge (Northern Michigan University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6322-8.ch005


This chapter describes a two-part, hybrid “Online Teaching Fellows” faculty development initiative and the tensions and transformations one faculty participant experienced. Case study and self-study research methodologies were utilized to systematically document and explore, from an insider's perspective, the lived experience of professional learning related to the design and delivery of online courses. This chapter identifies and describes tensions and transformations that contributed to professional learning and concludes with a discussion of how literacy practices in the design of frameworks for teaching and for learning may contribute to understanding how instructors read and make meaning from experiences in the context of professional learning. Implications extend Rosenblatt's transactional theory of reading and writing to multimodal online teaching and learning contexts.
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Within the burgeoning context of the distance education boom, opportunities for prospective and practicing teachers to take online courses abound. However, the teacher educators who are asked or expected to design and/or teach online courses are often unfamiliar with learning online. There is a need to consider training that facilitates professional learning experiences and prepares teacher educators to design and deliver online instruction that reflects recognized quality standards (e.g., Quality Matters, 2014) and principles for “good teaching” (e.g., Chickering & Gamson, 1987; Sorcinelli, 1991; Tobin, Mandernach, & Taylor, 2015), that addresses concerns for teacher learning and development for using digital media (cf. Selwyn, 2013; Barton & Lee, 2013), addresses the increasing focus on learning and the learner in higher education, and provides learning opportunities that are interactive, relevant, personalized, and accessible (Brown, Dehoney, & Millichap, 2015; Dumbauld, 2014; Long & Mott, 2017; Online Learning Consortium, 2016; Online Schools Center, 2017; Zimmer, 2017).

In the area of teachers’ continuing professional development, several models exist for structuring and organizing teachers’ learning opportunities. Kennedy (2005) identified nine models: training; award-bearing; deficit; cascade; standard based; coaching/mentoring; community of practice; action research; and transformative. Throughout the literature in teacher education, there has been consensus that traditional professional development—training that is transmissive in nature, based the “banking concept of education” (Freire, 1970;1998) in which instructors, researchers, or experts “deposit” knowledge by covering curriculum, providing weekend workshops, or bringing outside research into schools and tell educators what to do—have not been successful (Freidus, Feldman, Sgouros, & Wiles-Ketternmann, 2005).

In teacher education literature, there have been calls for models for teachers’ professional development that is meaningful, agentive, constructivist, collaborative, sustained, and documents making a difference in the work teachers do (e.g., Ball & Cohen, 1999; Borko, 2004; Darling-Hammond, 1998; Freidus, Feldman, Sgouros, & Wiles-Kettenmann, 2005; Bostock, Lisi-Neumann, & Collucci, 2016; Darling-Hammond & Bransford, 2005; Lotherington, Fisher, Jenson, & Lindo, 2016; Kopcha, 2010). Bostock and colleagues (2016) call for a paradigm shift from professional development to professional learning. They assert:

Key Terms in this Chapter

Text: In this study, text refers to communicative signs, perceived by one of the senses, and intentionally imbued with meaning, either when created or attended to. Facial expressions and classroom walls, alike, can be texts.

Stance: Stance refers to a person’s orientation toward or relation to an object or idea.

Event: In this study, event refers to a transactional experience. An event is an experience from which meaning is made. Meaning-making and event are biconditional terms. Meaning-making presupposes that a transaction has taken place.

Literacy: Adopting both sociocognitive and sociocultural conceptions, literacy includes the ability to think like a literate person, to use knowledge and strategic skills for purposes of communicating, creating meaning, negotiating meaning, and generating understanding within a discourse community.

Transformative Learning: A revision of conceptions or assumptions and includes a process by which individual learners construct knowledge through critical reflection.

Transaction: Transaction does not refer to a business exchange; rather, transaction conveys the ecological relationship between the knower, knowing, and what is known.

Knowledge: Knowledge is more than facts or the accumulation of information; it is the understanding of the interrelated information in the context of social and disciplinary conventions.

Envisionment: An envisionment is meaning that is in the process of being made; it is meaning-in-motion.

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