Online and Distance Teacher Education and Technology in the Early Years Education Centre

Volume 1, Number 4 - June 2008

Editoral

This edition of He Kupu covers a wide variety of issues that concern teacher educators involved in online teacher education and field based teacher education. Interestingly the issue begins with a reflection on some of the issues that concern each of the contributions to this issue. In an interview with John Roder from the University of Auckland, John reflects on some of the thinking behind the latest innovations in online learning. Having worked in education for many years as teacher and lecturer, John makes a case for the value of an open ‘playful’ engagement with learning especially in relation to the adaptation of technology. John’s knowledge of some of the present day concerns in teacher education have led him to espouse the notion of play in the context of the Web 2.0 open source learning and this he explores in the interview.

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Interview

For this interview though I’ll draw attention to a theme I’ve become interested in recently that comes from the New York Times foreign correspondent and ex academic, Thomas Friedman. Friedman has written a variety of books, and whilst I don’t agree with his politics, I would recommend his often quoted work The World is Flat (2005). Friedman puts forward the idea that as regards the Internet we’ve missed the point, using a number of provocative phrases he suggests that while we’ve been sleeping the world has fundamentally changed or in this case flattened by digital telecommunications.

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Peer-reviewed Papers

This paper describes how Japanese early childhood educators integrate play and technology in order to support young children’s development and learning in group-oriented environments. The main focus of Japanese early childhood education is to guide children to develop basic human attributes. Teachers in Japan provide children with age- appropriate technology in order to enhance play, rather than focus on academic skills. Through children’s requests, teachers support their play, providing opportunities to engage in technology-related activities. Examining the ways Japanese teachers use such activities can provide an insight into how to implement play and technology for young children.

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According to Schulmeister (2007) teaching in the USA divides into three different types of courses: traditional face-to- face courses, web-enhanced courses and fully online courses. In Finland multiform teaching belongs to distance teaching, where features of both face-to-face and on-line courses can be found. The first aim of this paper is to give a description of how student’s learning can be supported in multiform teaching with a four-level-support system. The lack of support to the students is one of the main barriers to e-learning today (Bonk & Dennen, 2003; Hannafin, Oliver, Hill, Glazer & Sharma, 2003). The second aim is to describe how this support system makes it possible to give students demanding exercises on the web. This paper emphasises the importance of evaluation in supporting the student’s in the context of multiform teaching, using an example of one course conducted by the author.

This article describes the use of an on-line reflective journal in the third year of an early childhood teacher education qualification in New Zealand. The aim of this initiative was to build students’ confidence and understanding of the use of ICT. The students were surveyed before and after using the on-line reflective journal on teaching practice. Feedback suggests that many students appreciated the immediacy of the on-line component as well as the opportunity to stay in contact with classmates and lecturers, but that submitting on-line did not necessarily encourage deeper reflection. The lecturer valued the opportunity to build closer relationships with the students through one-to-one communication.

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Student's Voice

For a year or so in 2000 after finishing High School, you could say that I mucked around for a year (as most teenagers do) while I decided what it was that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Now, being fresh out of school and only 18 years old it was a huge decision for me to make as I had no clue as to which career path I wanted to take. I fell upon early childhood purely by coincidence. I had started to become bored with café work and was telling my friend this when she had a brilliant idea. Why not come and work at an early childhood centre with her, where they were desperate for staff? I remember thinking ‘Ummmm…..okay, why not?’

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Contributors