Academic journal article Australasian Journal of Early Childhood

Tablet Technology and Cloud Storage as Evidence of Pedagogic Development in Pre-Service Teacher Education

Academic journal article Australasian Journal of Early Childhood

Tablet Technology and Cloud Storage as Evidence of Pedagogic Development in Pre-Service Teacher Education

Article excerpt

Introduction

Despite the increasing prevalence of mobile and tablet devices in everyday life, early childhood settings, schools and tertiary contexts, pre-service teachers show a limited use of these tools in professional experience placements. Student teacher reporting and reflections in class, followed by an unpublished small-scale pilot survey, indicated sporadic use of technology and wide variations of technology use in professional experience placement settings. In an attempt to explore this further, this study examines pre-service teachers' use of technology in practice teaching placements and reports components of two main data sources: surveys and focus groups. Within this study, 213 pre-service teacher education students across early childhood, primary and secondary education programs responded to an online survey to determine their use of mobile and tablet technologies during their field placement. Following a small trial using mobile and tablet technologies in documenting learning, a further 21 pre-service teachers participated in focus groups, exploring key issues relevant in early childhood contexts. Despite growing pressure to use technology in documentation of pedagogy and learning, the data showed limited use of technology on placement. The data shows technologies are being used as didactic teaching tools, in lesson preparation and in practice rather than as tools in evaluating teaching and observing, documenting and reflecting on student learning. Within early childhood contexts, pre-service teachers expressed particular concerns relating to difficulties with technology access, supervising teachers' perceptions of technology and thoughtful use of technology. This has implications for their understanding of technology as a tool for gathering and reflecting on evidence to support their developing teacher role.

Background

As a component of their training, pre-service teachers are required to spend time in classrooms developing skills and 'practising' teaching. Within these contexts it is understood that pre-service teachers will develop skills in documenting learning, evaluating and reflecting on their teaching. Within school contexts, pre-service teachers are required to collect evidence of their achievement against the Australian National Professional Standards for Teachers (AITSL, 2014a) and to reflect on this evidence with their tertiary supervisors and supervising teachers. Traditionally, this evidence of achievement includes student work samples, teaching resources, assessment tasks, administrative documents (e.g. data on student learning) and reflections on practice (AITSL, 2014b). From the perspective of Schon's notion of the 'reflective practitioner', this process is designed to enable the pre-service teacher to consider their actions in such a way that theory and practice 'talk to one another' (1995). When these requirements are considered within an increasingly technological world, it is a logical conclusion to use technology to support this process. Technologies such as mobile/tablet devices and cloud storage tools have the potential to significantly transform elements of this practice.

In early childhood contexts, technology use is increasing with early years educators demonstrating a range of skills with these tools (Aubrey & Dahl, 2014). The traditional 'to use or not to use' technology debate appears to be, in part, diminishing as young children's technology use begins to be 'normalised' (Edwards, 2015, p. 284). Growing recognition of the use of technology and social media in early childhood contexts can be considered an opportunity for connection through conversations and sharing of technologies between teachers, families and pre-service teachers (Dietze & Kashin, 2013). However, despite this apparent increase in the use of technology, its integration in early childhood settings varies. Edwards, Henderson, Gronn, Scott and Mirkhil (2016) outline the importance of understanding the setting and teacher engagement with technology. …

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