Cross-Border Collaborative Learning in the Professional Development of Teachers: Case Study – Online Course for the Professional Development of Teachers in a Digital Age

Cross-Border Collaborative Learning in the Professional Development of Teachers: Case Study – Online Course for the Professional Development of Teachers in a Digital Age

Rafi Davidson (Kaye Academic College of Education, Israel) and Amnon Glassner (The Kaye Academic College of Education, Israel)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9441-5.ch021
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The goal of this chapter is to present a theoretical and practical frame for PD of teachers at the digital age. The main question we ask is how to develop life competencies and skills of teachers in order to change their learning and teaching in a way that enables school graduates to acquire relevant skills for life. The chapter inquires this issue by a qualitative methodology case study . The case is an online course for teachers' professional development. The chapter presents evidence from reflective diaries, interviews and scripts of students' and teachers' discussions, focusing on identification of the effects of the course's learning environments on the development of the teachers' self determination learning and skills. The findings indicate the useful effects of the combination between LMS environments and social media, such as Web 2.0 tools. The conclusions suggest new directions for teachers' professional development that encourage the design of a flexible fractal net which enable fostering teachers' leadership and innovation.
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This chapter addresses the question: How can teachers be trained to advance life competencies and skills? We shall present a case study of an online course for veteran teachers, whose aim is to train teachers to lead pedagogical innovation. We will then propose a model for the professional development of teachers that can adapt to the rapid development of ICT technologies.

The internet has made it possible for accessibility and communication between people across borders, nations, countries, cultures, and lifestyles.

While the education world is undergoing processes of change, and is beginning to adapt to the rapidly developing digital culture, change is still required in the perception and practice of the professional development of teachers, and its adaptation to the schools of tomorrow.

Our book, The “Arrow Head” and the “Warm Hand” (Davidson, 2012), discusses a humanistic-constructivist approach to teacher training that mandates rethinking. It discusses questions pertaining to the role of teacher training in engaging in social and emotional elements of online learning, which are of paramount importance at a time when human beings, especially young people, have virtual “friends” on social networks. Classroom doors are increasingly being breached due to the use of cellphones and iPads. Teachers face a situation to which they are unaccustomed, and fear loss of control in their classrooms.

Two major questions arise regarding this changing world:

  • How should the teacher training system contend with this new reality?

  • How can teachers be trained to be lifelong learners, on the one hand, and to gain the ability train their own students to be lifelong learners, on the other hand?

Learning in the twenty-first century requires the development of new life competencies that did not exist in traditional learning and teaching. Numerous studies demonstrate that teachers are the most important factor in their students’ success (McCaffrey, Lockwood, Koretz, & Hamilton, 2003). Our basic premise is that by basing teaching on new pedagogical approaches, teachers will also experience such learning methods.

The underlying approach of teachers should be the premise that learners are capable of individual and collaborative knowledge building (Scardamalia & Bereiter, 2003) provided that the teacher creates conditions that facilitate self-regulated learning.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Connectivism: A new learning theory that claims individual’s knowledge is distributed and resides not only in his brain, but also in connections with electronic and human components which the learner has developed in the course of his learning. according to the connectivism: Meaningful learning is a process that requires a network environment that is open to interactions at varying levels of intensity.

Personal Learning Environments: Communication systems and Social media tools that are controlled by learners rather than teachers, thus increasing the learners’ autonomy.

Digital Literacy: A survival skill in the digital era. It constitutes a system of skills and strategies used by learners and users in digital environments. By employing different types of digital literacy, users improve their performance and “survive” a variety of obstacles and stumbling blocks that lie in the way within this special medium. ( Eshet 2012 ).

Lifelong Learning: Learning that is pursued throughout life: learning that is flexible, diverse and available at different times and in different places. Lifelong learning crosses sectors, promoting learning beyond traditional schooling and throughout adult life.

Social Constructivism: Sociological theory of knowledge that applies the general philosophical constructivism into the social context. According to this theory reality is constructed through human activity, knowledge is a human product and is socially and culturally constructed, individuals create meaning through their interactions with each other and with the environment they live. (Based on Wikipedia).

Life Competencies: A cluster of related abilities, commitments, knowledge, and skills that enable a person (or an organization) to act effectively in a life situation. Competence indicates sufficiency of knowledge and skills that enable someone to act in a wide variety of situations.

LMS (Learning Management Systems): Open source learning platform that serves for online distance learning. LMS environments maintain the boundaries of the traditional classroom and they cannot serve the connectivist learning tools on their own.

Social media: Forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos). (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

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