Using E-Learning Dialogues in the Professional Education of Teachers: E-Portfolio and the Patchwork Text

Ms Moira Hulme
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Reflective journal writing is an established technique in the professional education of teachers. Journaling can help beginning teachers make connections between specific, situated aspects of practice and general principles of professional knowledge. It thus has a potentially important role to play in countering the artificial separation of theory from practice. This paper outlines the experiences of thirty postgraduate student teachers and their tutors who used online dialogue journals to scaffold reflective thinking in an initial teacher education programme. The research explores the use of online dialogue journals to support and sustain collaborative work among students whilst on supervised teaching practice in further education colleges (tertiary education) across the West Midlands, England. Computer-mediated communication (CMC) was employed to overcome problems of spatial and temporal dislocation that are barriers to shared reflection and peer support during the practicum.

A virtual learning environment (VLE) afforded greater access to participants' writing and facilitated dialogue through reflective tasks supported by e-mentoring. The centrality of critical reflection and dialogue in professional education reflects the Vygotskian notion that verbalisation is integral to the creative development of understanding and the development of more 'inclusive' and 'integrative' professional practice (Mezirow, 1990). Dialogue is used here to contextualise and problematise professional practice rather than present an overly technicised view of professional knowledge as a set of competences to be acquired and performed. Using the model of the 'patchwork text' (Winter, 2003), an e-portfolio was constructed through a reflexive process of iterative conversation. The e-portfolio text reflects, and is constituted through, the weaving together of the personal and professional narratives that cumulatively form teachers' professional identities.

This research was supported by a small grant from the UK Education Learning and Teaching Support Network (LTSN), ESCalate (2004/05).

Keywords: Computer-mediated communication (CMC), Dialogue journals, E-mentoring, E-portfolio, Patchwork Text, Professional education, Reflective practice, Virtual learning environment (VLE)
Stream: Technology in Education
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Using e-Learning Dialogues in the Professional Education of Teachers

Ms Moira Hulme

Senior Lecturer in Post Compulsory Education, School of Education, University of Wolverhampton

Ref: T05P0099