- Times Higher Education
New modes of practicum – synergising online and offline teaching modes (Global)
Teaching the practical application of a subject – or practicums – sits at the core of many courses. Among our trainee childhood educators, it is possibly the most highly anticipated learning experience. Practicums offer students hands-on experience in their respective disciplines, allowing them to put their knowledge to use in real-life scenarios. However, practicums can be daunting, stressful and full of doubts. Shall I help set up the classroom? Is it acceptable to pressure children? Will the pupils engage in this teaching activity? These are just some of the questions that our aspiring student educators ask themselves. Students rely heavily on their peers’ response and mentors’ feedback to ascertain their performance. This became increasingly challenging during the pandemic, with classes moving online. Many preschools blended online teaching modes with offline ones. Our practicums had to adapt to this mixed-mode approach too. Numerous adjustments were made to accommodate the expansion of the teaching space beyond the classroom’s walls. It has now been proven that mixed-mode practicum for our student teachers can work. Here are some lessons from our teacher training courses that may be helpful for anyone needing to adapt their practicum to work online through blended formats: 1) Prepare activities jointly: Certain teaching and learning activities can still take place on campus even while much remains remote so look at where students will benefit the most from face-to-face instruction. For our student teachers, lesson and activity planning can still take place within a school even when the children are learning from home. Student teachers shared that they learned more while being involved in activity preparation on campus. The discussions and exchanges with fellow educators deepen their understanding of the curriculum, prompt them to consider the needs of all learners in the classroom and stretch their ability to make the activities both relevant and engaging. 2) Work in small and large groups: Synchronous online sessions create opportunities for student teachers – and their pupils – to work in various group sizes enabling peer-to-peer learning and improve collaborative, team-working skills. In the same way as offline activities, leading different group sizes requires adjustment in management and interaction skills among the student teachers. Small-group breakout sessions can easily be set up on online platforms. If possible, record the sessions for discussion and reflection after the lesson. 3) Extend the learning space: Occupations are no longer tied to physical spaces and locations that once defined them. For instance, teaching is no longer bound to the classroom and digital communication channels enable most of the work to be done remotely. Whatever your discipline, help students gain competence and confidence with the new contexts in which they must operate and plan projects making use of new off-site spaces and resources.
Read more here