Is constructivism a prerequisite to unlock the power of web based platforms in teacher training? : A case study on the enablers for web based learning platforms for teacher training in Cambodia

University essay from Linnéuniversitetet/Institutionen för informatik (IK)

Abstract: This case study, executed in school network driven by a private foundation for underprivileged children in Cambodia, provides a perspective from a unique situation of technology enablement in an environment with a predominantly instructivist teaching tradition.   The said environment is strongly influenced by private sector donors with strong constructivist traditions and expectations. The environment is thus unique in the sense that a relatively asset rich environment, with expectations of 21st century pedagogical skills, is transported into an asset poor environment that was/is strongly rooted in instructivism. The case study thus give a perspective on if technology itself is a possible solution for better teacher education/educational delivery, or if the underlying pedagogy first needs to be evolved to allow web-based platforms and tools to be fully leveraged.     In the specific environment being studies, teacher in-service training plays a larger role than formal teacher qualifications, and peer-to-peer, in-person, learning is the cornerstone of development (offline connectivism). Rather than changing the way the teachers learn, there should be opportunity in further strengthening the current practices of communities. Connectivist MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) do provide the community engagement and together with technology mediated professional learning platforms there should be opportunity to provide enhanced support for teachers’ education.   The two main hurdles to overcome, beyond functioning technology assets and web access, are teachers own comfort levels with technology platforms, as well as provision of platforms that support local language options. The comfort level with technology is important to address as, assuming technology and web access works, the openness and lack of control in a web environment is in direct contradiction to instructivist teaching. Unlocking the potential of the web requires that teachers are comfortable with the web itself and also truly support inquiry based learning over didactic teaching, and that they have the skills to help children navigate the openness of the web.   As economies shift towards becoming knowledge societies, collaborative problem-solving and navigation to knowledge are skills of increasing in importance, relative static knowledge recall that was previously viewed as value adding. This case study contributes to pedagogical theory and in particularly gives one more perspective on the shift from instructivist to constructivist teaching as a pre-requisite for capturing the power of the internet, and the shift to leveraging networks in a connectivist pedagogical approach. This case study also calls out the need for evolved frameworks to better describe technology mediated learning in least developing country environments. The case study also provides contribution to practice to technology mediated teacher education as it specifically addresses some of the opportunities in strengthening the support to teacher education in least developed countries.

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