02 SES 16 A, Innovative Teaching and Learning Practices in VET
Further, Adult and Vocational (FAVE) educators worldwide have had to adapt and engage with new pedagogical responses to a rapidly emergent digital transformation in the delivery of their programmes. Innovative models of education that incorporate fundamentally different ideas of educational digital pedagogy and curriculum create the bridge to support student acquisition of the knowledge, skills and experiences necessary to prepare them for a digital world that has transformed lives, jobs and organisations.
Evidence that these ‘new’ digital pedagogical responses are effective are limited. Currently, substantial research initiatives are focused on extending our understanding of the student experience of these new digital ‘teaching-learning environments’ (dTLEs). Additional research is also necessary to understand the FAVE communities of practice that support these dTLEs.
The aim of this research project was to study educators’ experiences of emergency remote teaching in Further, Adult, Vocational education (FAVE).
Guiding question: What ways do educators’ perceptions of the provision of emergency remote online learning affect their engagement and disengagement with digitalised teaching-learning environments (dTLEs)?
- Explore how personal experiences and work contexts of emergency remote teaching and working online influence an individual’s engagement and disengagement with a digital teaching-learning environment (dTLE).
- Share how an online CoP helped to build a bridge of critical consciousness (to support conscious and unconscious dimensions of a transformative learning process)
- Share the voices and experiences of FAVE educators who made decisions to engage with digital technologies, learning from them what led to their decision.
- Map the personal, professional and situational dimensions of an evolving FAVE teacher identity as critically reflective digital practitioners
Personal engagement, perspective transformation, identity self-states, and digital mindsets.
Psychological conditions of personal engagement at work represents an internal state of being, comprised of three psychological domains (meaningfulness, safety, availability) that determine whether individuals bring their preferred selves to their role as a professional working within a discipline and that of their role as an educator within the organisation (Kahn, 1990, 1991; Schuck, 2011; May, 2004; Tuckey et al, 2012; Lave & Wenger, 1991)
Role engagement may prompt a changed perspective as individuals identify and challenge underlying assumptions, prompting changed perspectives leading to new roles and actions (Mezirow, 1991). These processes may also lead to a change in habits of mind (Cranton, 2006) building a bridge of critical consciousness (Bourdieu,1997) leading to new worldviews and new perspectives and identity.
The importance of and interrelation of notions of identify, concept, emotion and agency has been established (Beauchamp & Thomas, 2009; Behijard et al 2004; Rodgers & Scott, 2008; Hamman, Gosselin, Romano and Bunuan, 2010;). Identity self-states draws on ‘motivational self-systems’ that incorporate ‘possible’ and ‘ideal’ selves’ theory (Markus and Nurius, 1986) and self-discrepancy theory. Exploring these processes will inform how an online FAVE Community of Practice impacted on professional identity and agency (Cranton, 2006; Boylan, Coldwell, Maxwell & Jordan, 2018; Graham Cagney, 2020).
An educational digital mindset should be proactive, rather than reactive; characterised by particular behaviours and attitudes that are agile, collaborative, curious, “tech savvy” and comfortable with change (Donat, Brandtweiner, Kerschbaum, 2009; Gössling & Emmler, 2019; Lehtonen, Nokelainen, Rintala, Pylväs, 2019; Graham Cagney et al, 2020). Recent European research on digital education identifies tensions between the needs of various stakeholders: teachers, learners, educational organisations, employers, industry and society. Furthermore, institutional barriers include i) the digitisation of education and industry; ii) changing assessment and examination approaches and regulations; and iii) lag times with textbooks, materials and available technologies (Deitmer, L., Heinemann, L., & Müller, W., 2018 p131; Benedek et al, 2018). In this constantly changing landscape there is pressure on the educator to meet the needs of all stakeholders.
The study design is informed by a multi-method qualitative, phenomenological approach that allowed themes to emerge from participants and their perceptions of their experiences (Yin, 2016). The original intention was to conduct focus groups and semi-structured interviews however the realities of providing emergency remote teaching and the corresponding workloads meant that an alternative approach had to be found. These included: • Online focus group sessions via Zoom were conducted (with participant notes consolidated/written up, shared and member checked); • Collaborative idea-generation online asynchronous spaces were created using Padlet; where participants posted their thoughts and experiences over a 7 day period. (Each individual then added comments, insights and reactions to the differing Padlet posts over the following 7 day period.) • Reflective papers/notes were written by each participant and again posted on a different Padlet page for the group to read and add comments, ideas and reflections. • Collaborative conversations (qualitative unstructured interviews) were conducted by the lead researchers with the members of the CoP. These were recorded (with permission), transcribed and member checked. Eight participants (all members of the CoP) agreed to continue to Stage 2 of the collaborative inquiry study in which we took a particular focus on capturing and sharing our stories, experiences, challenges and successes in providing emergency remote teaching. Participant profiles reflect 5 Irish and USA higher and further education institutions; differing functional and disciplinary backgrounds; and a mix of lecturers, tutors, TEL and Information Systems professionals and a Librarian. A staged, narrative approach was used, and transformative learning theory provided the philosophical and theoretical principles guiding the study. Participants shared their stories of experiences, issues, problems, challenges and opportunities by engaging in profound discourse, Padlet posts and comments, shared reflective short papers and journal entries and email/Zoom chat content. The follow-up unstructured interviews took place in the form of a ‘collaborative conversation’. Rapport based on trusting relationships build within the COP, allowed for spontaneity and for questions to develop during the course of the interview. Consistent with qualitative methodology, the data was collated, and then analysed with respect to the research questions using a constant comparative method to construct categories or themes that captured the recurring patterns. Iteration and deepening levels of analysis including the formation of stories, identified themes that related to transformative learning, disorientating dilemmas, and experiences relating to habitus and invasion of the lifeworld/homeworld.
Challenges to their developing educational digital mindsets and evolving identities as critically reflective digital practitioners arose from unexpected and difficult ‘online’ workplace relationships and demands, ‘black tiles and silence’ of disengaged participants during Zoom classes; demands of founded and unfounded expectations of organisational support and resources; unexpected impacts on boundary management between work-life and home-life; and when unexamined assumptions and frames of reference were brought into question, resulted in disorienting dilemmas. Relationships in all aspects of their lives led to disorienting dilemmas, but it was through relationships that they were able to begin to make sense of their experience. Intersubjective CoP relationships provided safe spaces where critical reflection and dialogue could occur, offering the possibility of emancipation from unfounded expectations; and the movement toward perspective transformations and authentic ways of being as educators and people. By reflecting on experiences critically, through dialogue, shared experiences and supported actions, participants were able to move beyond unquestioned and unrealistic expectations thus learning the value of human connection and being with the other, as the critical reflective digital practitioner role was becoming part of their ontology. The reasons why they stayed in the CoP linked back to the reasons they decided to become educators in the first place; the desire to enact an altruistic intent by discovering the value of human connection through experiential learning and development. This research has implications for future directions of remote (emergency) teaching provision and also the digital technological enhancement of FAVE education and curriculum development. Findings establish the centrality of relational learning and the importance of intersubjective relationships for education professionals in developing and applying learning processes that are authentic and build strong and supportive bridges between FAVE education and workplace settings. The recommendations are drawn from these findings and point toward the future based on these implications.
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