Future Online Teachers' Scaffolding: What Kind of Advanced Technological Innovations Would Teachers like to See in Future Distance Training Projects?

By Passig, David | Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, Winter 2001 | Go to article overview

Future Online Teachers' Scaffolding: What Kind of Advanced Technological Innovations Would Teachers like to See in Future Distance Training Projects?


Passig, David, Journal of Technology and Teacher Education


This study examined and organized comments made by teachers participating in a variety of learning communities to sort a list of recommendations for future development of web-based teachers' training, taking into consideration possible trajectories of web powerful technological innovations. The comments are organized under a theoretical framework of professional scaffolding.

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In recent years, several studies have examined the potential impact of distance learning through the World Wide Web (WWW or Web). Some offer optimistic views of the potential benefits of today's web training services (Owston 1997), and some scrutinize the Web disadvantages and draw backs (Roschelle & Pea 1999). Although these articles offer valuable advice and trajectories about today's and tomorrow's state of web-based distance learning, they recognize that the Web is changing rapidly both on the users front and the technologies being implemented (Fetterman, 1998). They do not provide, however, a sense of where the users of online-based distance learning services would like to go. They do not provide the users point of view on their future needs and genuine preferences.

Moreover, the existing studies address one type of end user of web learning services--the student. They tend to wrap together teachers and students as one type of online learner. This article focuses on the needs of teachers as a separate entity of web-based distance learner.

Such prospective information about emerging teachers' priorities and necessities is important for the educational research community. It is the authors intention to highlight briefly essential concerns of teachers participating on web learning experiences. This article examined comments made by teachers participating in a variety of learning communities to sort a list of recommendations for future development of web-based teachers' training, taking into consideration possible trajectories of web powerful technological innovations.

PRESENT STATE

For better organizing the arguments of this article, the framework in Roschelle and Pea's (1999) article is reused. Likewise, the account is somewhat pessimistic about the utility of today's web tools for teachers' distance learning needs. We have been watching comments posted by active teachers in electronic and distant learning communities to identify desired innovations.

We have been gathering phrases from teachers' discussion groups, chats, and bulletin boards in various teachers' training projects in Israel and the US. In these phrases, the participating teachers expressed implicitly or explicitly comments that might more closely connect training needs and the properties of technologies. Here are the main points summarized around the framework described by Roschelle and Pea (1999). The following arguments describe the state of distance learning today:

1. Can distance training make teacher's training more accessible?

2. Can distance training promote improved teaching?

The participants agree that although distance and time are not the primary impediments to access to learning resources in K-12 education, it is a primary barrier for teachers seeking continuous inservice training (www.electricschoolhouse.com).

Many participants are critical of the idea that the Web, as the primary venue of today's teachers' distance training by itself, can provide tools to better teach higher-order skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, or even teamwork. Teachers contend that the training programs fail to provide them with tools that can help them in the overwhelming task of imposing meaningful structure from information available. They claim that they find themselves investing most of their resources looking for additional tools that will help them organize the information they have learned into credible chain of argument or theoretical framework that could enhance their teaching (http://wise. …

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