Using a Web-Based Professional Development System to Support Preservice Teachers in Examining Authentic Classroom Practice

By Barnett, Michael | Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, Winter 2006 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Using a Web-Based Professional Development System to Support Preservice Teachers in Examining Authentic Classroom Practice

Barnett, Michael, Journal of Technology and Teacher Education

We have been exploring the potential of a web-supported professional development system, the Inquiry Learning Forum (ILF), that integrates videotaped classrooms and discussion forums for use in preservice science methods classrooms. This article examines pre- and inservice teachers' perceptions about using the ILF and how their participation in the ILF helped to enhance their teaching. Using specific naturalistic research methods, we discovered that preservice teachers placed high values on watching teacher practice through videos. Preservice teachers interacted with inservice teachers through asynchronous forums where they discussed videos of teacher practice. These methods served as a valuable tool to help them understand different learning theories and reform-based teaching practice used in a classroom. This article concludes with a discussion of the challenges encountered, lessons learned, and recommendations for other teacher educators who decide to incorporate a web-based professional development system into their courses.


Over the past decade, many teacher educators have grown increasingly dissatisfied with traditional and individualistic approaches to teacher education and professional development. This dissatisfaction has lead educators to recognize that teachers need experience in collaborative learning communities where they are afforded the opportunities to articulate, reflect on, and share their teaching experiences with their peers (Barab, Barnett, & Squire, 2002; Grossman, Wineburg, & Wool worth, 2001). The emphasis on building collaborative learning experiences has sparked numerous efforts to transform existing teacher education programs into learning communities that link the learning of preservice teachers with experienced teachers and teacher educators (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1993; Grossman et al., 2001; Putnam & Borko, 2000). These past interventions were premised upon individuals coming together as a group to develop relationships where its members wrestle with and construct notions of what it means to teach. In striving toward this goal, our team created a web-supported professional development system known as the Inquiry Learning Forum (ILF). The ILF was designed to support a diverse community of teachers in further exploring optimal ways to teach science and math. This article explores use of the ILF in two elementary science methods courses.


Over the past 20 years, the educational community has accumulated a wealth of information about how to improve teacher practice through preservice teacher training and follow-up professional development experiences (Lieberman, 1995). However, as Loucks-Horsley and Matsumoto (1999) noted, the knowledge base has been a significantly underutilized resource for teacher development; this has been primarily due to a lack of mechanisms to facilitate and sustain information sharing as well as access to distributed expertise such as other teachers, university faculty, and curriculum developers. For example, the primary means that most teachers use to distribute their expertise are brief experiences at inservice workshops at their schools or universities, summer institutes, or through their own reading of practitioner-oriented journals (Marx, Blumenfeld, Krajcik, & Soloway, 1998). However, recent developments in information technology tools have created new ways for individuals to communicate, share information, and experiences with one another (Dede, 2000). Information technology offers great potential for teacher training to enhance communication and sharing of teaching practices that many educators believe can fundamentally reshape the nature of teacher training. In the following section, we will briefly review recent technology-based strategies used to improve teacher training and professional development.

Technology to Support Teacher Development

The growth and use of the Internet has provided teacher educators with the opportunity to examine the usage of electronic networks for supporting preservice teachers' reflection on their pedagogical belief systems and teaching experiences.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Using a Web-Based Professional Development System to Support Preservice Teachers in Examining Authentic Classroom Practice


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?