Source: Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, Vol. 44, No. 3, 289–300, 2016.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This paper describes a study that examines students’ experiences of distance teacher education as a process of changing participation in the workplace.
The participants were four students, who studied a 3-year diploma of early childhood teaching via distance learning. All participants achieved average to above-average grades and worked as employees in early childhood centers for more than 20 hours per week.
Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with the participants and their center leader and a half day visit to their center.
The findings reveal that the students’ work responsibilities gave them experience of a range of teaching activities.
The students said that they were in daily contact with a range of perspectives within their teaching teams and in their work with children and families.
The findings reveal that the students described the experience of contributing with increasing confidence within their teams as their professional knowledge and experience developed.
The authors argue that even with limited face-to-face opportunities within the distance programme, the students were actively engaged in relating theory and practice.
The authors also argue that the students’ identities and their workplace cultures and practices influenced what students paid attention to and the decisions they made when negotiating changes within their teams.
The authors suggest that it is important that early childhood centers employing students understand the relationship between student learning and the way work is structured and agreed in the center. They also argue that distance programmes need to consider how they are strengthening students’ identity, particularly in relation to how students can respond and contribute to the collective learning in their workplaces.