Virtual Learning Environment (ClassSim) Examined Under the Frame of Andragogy

Virtual Learning Environment (ClassSim) Examined Under the Frame of Andragogy

Lisa Carrington (University of Wollongong, Australia), Lisa Kervin (University of Wollongong, Australia) and Brian Ferry (University of Wollongong, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0011-9.ch206
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ClassSim, an online simulation, was developed to support existing teacher education programs by providing pre-service teachers with access to additional classroom experience. This research reports on how pre-service teachers make use of the virtual learning environment to link knowledge from university coursework with field experiences and through this, we are able to examine affordances the virtual environment offers pre-service teacher learning. Andragogy provides a theoretical framework to review and make assumptions about the nature of learning for the participants. A comparative case study approach allows for in-depth comparison of two cohorts of pre-service teachers (first and final year) as they interact with the ClassSim environment.
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Achieving balance between the theoretical and practical components of teacher education is a challenge currently facing those involved in the design, delivery and accreditation of teacher education (MACQT, 1998; Educational Training Committee, 2005). An unmistakeable gap is claimed between what teachers are taught during their university studies and what they are expected to do at the ‘chalk-face’ in their professional career (Cole & Knowles, 2009). The Ramsey (2000) review of teacher education in New South Wales, Australia highlighted that pre-service teachers do not understand how classroom practice produces effective student learning, and Kervin and Turbill (2003) found that many beginning teachers find it difficult to adjust to classroom life because they are often unable to retrieve important theoretical knowledge when they need it. Therefore it seems reasonable to suggest that teacher education should have stronger links between field experience and theoretical studies.

There is a considerable body of literature supporting the claim that there is a need to integrate these aspects of pre-service teacher education to address the perceived irrelevance of theory to students (for example Brady, Seagal, Bamford, & Deer, 1998; Darling-Hammond, 1999; Lanier & Little, 1986; Sorin, 2004), thus enabling pre-service teachers to gain a better understanding of the theory/practice nexus (MACQT, 1998). An early integration of field experiences would enable pre-service teachers to gain a better understanding of the theory/practice nexus (MACQT, 1998). Further, a philosophy of reflective practice will help pre-service teachers articulate the theory to practice relationship (Brady, Seagal, Bamford, & Deer, 1998).

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