Indigenizing and Mentoring Technology Usage in Undergraduate Teacher Education

Indigenizing and Mentoring Technology Usage in Undergraduate Teacher Education

Doug Reid (Thompson Rivers University, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1461-0.ch010
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As a partnership between a teacher education program and a public school, an introductory course in education was modernized to reflect the current technological and cultural contexts of the teaching profession. This was done to ensure the course would still be a transfer credit at other universities in the region and to ensure undergraduate students would receive a current perspective of teaching in Canada. The result of this initiative was the development of an undergraduate course infused with modeling technology used in classrooms today designed upon an indigenous pedagogical model. In theory, this allowed the students to explore the interaction of technology-enabled learning and indigenous pedagogy. In practice, this allowed the students to learn in a low-risk environment designed to reflect current realities and advances in educational practices.
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This research was initiated as part of an investigation into mentoring in a technology rich classroom (Reid & Reid, 2015). The University implementation aspect of the research is what will be presented in greater detail here. The focus of this research project was to explore an implementation of pedagogical approaches to teaching and learning to pre-service teachers that included technology infusion in an indigenous-structured undergraduate education course.

Teacher preparation has attempted to keep up with current societal trends and the attrition rate of early career teachers (Greiner, & Smith, 2009; Mee, & Haverback, 2014) shows that more innovative practices need to be developed. In this research, introduction to responsive course design based on digital technology integration, blended learning, and Indigenous pedagogical approaches within a teacher education program to attempt to address perceived limitations in recent education graduates to promote resilience and reduce early career teacher attrition.

Society and teaching environments have continued to change through the years. Early career educators find themselves in a wide variety of school environments have been identified throughout the literature and summarized numerous times (Buchanan, 2012). There are a number of environmental factors presented in the literature that affect early career educators include the cultural & societal transition from pre-service teacher to early career educator, lack of support from the school district and the community, working conditions, and feelings of isolation. The literature also identifies factors that impact success for early career educators including institutional factors like the teacher evaluation process, administrative burdens, the predominance of teacher educators who have never or have barely been teachers themselves. More individualized factors include their contract status, their inexperience in school settings, and the appropriateness of their teacher training (Forret, Fox-Turnbull, Granshaw, Harwood, Miller, O'Sullivan, & Patterson, 2013). The need for mentorship of early career educators in appropriate pedagogy has been argued in the literature (Steinke & Putnam, 2011). The case study for this mentorship approach in a technology and indigenous pedagogy school environment identified factors in three categories including what the early career teachers were strong with, what they were not prepared for and what they identified as overwhelming in their first year of teaching (Reid & Reid, 2015). The identified factors were then integrated into the planning and delivery of a university teacher education program. This is the result of applying the identified factors in a teacher education program.

The final aspect of the larger research endeavour concerned bringing the experiences of the technology, cultural, and mentorship process to the university teacher education program. The research team was concerned for the high attrition rates that exist in the teaching profession especially in the first five years of a teachers’ career. It can be argued that it is important that pre-service teachers be able to experience the unknown and be provided with the opportunities to enable them to make informed decisions about teaching (Trinidad, Sharplin, Lock, Ledger, Boyd, & Terry, 2010). After the initial phase of the research concluded which coincided with the end of the school year, the lessons learned and factors identified were examined. This was done with a view to design a highly practical learning experience particularly focused on aspects of the teacher education program that needed to be present to help provide resilience and insight for early career educators to find success.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Reflective Practice: The capacity to reflect on action so as to engage in a process of continuous learning. According to one definition it involves “paying critical attention to the practical values and theories which inform everyday actions, by examining practice reflectively and reflexively. This leads to developmental insight”. A key rationale for reflective practice is that experience alone does not necessarily lead to learning; deliberate reflection on experience is essential.

Mentorship Program: A professional developmental program where a more experienced or more knowledgeable teacher helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable teacher.

Blended Learning: Is a formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through delivery of content and instruction via digital and online media with some element of student control over time, place, path, or pace. While still attending a “brick-and-mortar” school structure, face-to-face classroom methods are combined with computer-mediated activities. Blended learning is also used in professional development and training settings, as it can be used to translate knowledge into a particular skill that is useful and practical for a specific job.

Technology-Rich Classrooms: K-12 classrooms with several types of technology used regularly to enhance teaching and learning. Examples of the technology include interactive whiteboards, computers, mobile devices, 3D printers, etc.

Pre-Service Teacher: A student actively enrolled in a teacher education program at a college or university.

Learner-Centered Pedagogy: Learner-centered education, broadly encompasses methods of teaching that shift the focus of instruction from the teacher to the student. In original usage, student-centered learning aims to develop learner autonomy and independence by putting responsibility for the learning path in the hands of students. Student-centered instruction focuses on skills and practices that enable lifelong learning and independent problem-solving. Student-centered learning theory and practice are based on the constructivist learning theory that emphasizes the learner's critical role in constructing meaning from new information and prior experience.

Early Career Teacher: A teacher in their first 2 years of teaching who does not have a permanent contract or permanent teaching certification.

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