Journal of Online Learning and Teaching
No. 4, December 2006
International Online Collaboration: Modeling Online Learning
Faculty of Education
of Southern Queensland
Faculty of Education
through an inquiry process within an international online
classroom, pre-service teachers identified and discussed
critical issues embedded in cultural diversity and inclusion and
explored how to honour diversity within their pedagogical
practices in elementary/primary classrooms within Canadian and
Australian contexts. A discussion of the findings based on a
qualitative research case study is presented through the lens of
an online collaborative framework. The role of teaching presence
within the intentional design and throughout the implementation
of the online collaborative educational experience is
paramount. If the goal is to engage pre-service teachers in
higher order thinking within online collaborative learning
environments, the intentionality of the design of the work and
the facilitation of the discourse throughout the work must be
modeled and facilitated by educators.
Learning and Technology, Learner-centred, Online Collaboration,
Use of Learning Spaces, Design of Learning Spaces, Teaching
and collaborative nature of learning is important in education
in the 21st century. Teacher educators
have a role to play in designing and implementing collaborative
learning based on the needs of the learners and tapping into the
world beyond the textbook and artifacts within their
classrooms. Moving learning outside of the classroom can
provide learners with experience working and learning within
international forums and the opportunity to develop an
appreciation for multiple perspectives as they examine common
issues from various locations.
qualitative study reported in this paper examines how an
international online collaborative learning experience was
designed and implemented within three pre-service teacher
education classes in two universities located in the northern
and southern hemispheres. The project was designed to give
pre-service teachers an opportunity to live the experience of
being online collaborators investigating real world issues of
diversity and inclusion from both Canadian and Australian
perspectives. In addition, it provided them with a model of
information and communication technology (ICT) that can be used
in their own teaching practice.
educational experience reported in this study is examined
through the lens of Redmond and Lock’s (2006) flexible online
collaborative learning framework. Their framework is an
adaptation of Garrison, Anderson and Archer’s (2000) Community
of Inquiry model where the educational experience is the nexus
of social presence, cognitive presence and teaching presence.
An elaboration and application of the elements in the framework
are examined further in this paper indicating that the heart of
a community of inquiry is creating knowledge in action through
the educational experience.
teacher educators require models of how ICT can be appropriately
integrated into rich learning experiences. Clifford, Friesen
and Jardine (2003) have argued that “these new technologies
demand that educators re-think the nature of their work and the
forms of collaboration and communication” (p. 1).
Jonassen, Peck and Wilson (1999)
have noted that meaningful learning with ICT should be
used for generative processing by the learner in constructing
knowledge rather than a medium to deliver instruction.
planning of rich learning experiences which integrate ICT and
where all educators (pre-service teachers, in-service teachers
and teacher educators) have the potential to learn as a result
of critical discourse, metacognitive awareness and development
of knowledge in and through action requires consideration of the
three C’s: constructivism, collaboration and critical thinking.
learning has moved from a teacher-directed and static content
environment to a constructivist environment that is
learner-centred and collaborative. The underlying principle of
constructivism is that learners “construct their own
understandings of the world in which they live” (Sergiovanni,
1996, p. 38). “Social constructivism reminds us that learning is
essentially a social activity, that meaning is constructed
through communication, collaborative activity, and interactions
with others.” (Swan, 2005, p. 5).
and Bereiter (2003) have suggested that much of what occurs in
practice under the name of constructivism is shallow rather than
deep constructivism. They argue that a shallow approach has
learners complete and describe their learning activities. It
results in them showing “little awareness of the underlying
principles that these tasks are to convey” (p. 1371). In
contrast, deep constructivism occurs when “…practices such as
identifying problems of understanding, establishing and refining
goals based on progress, gathering information, theorizing,
designing experiments, answering questions and improving
theories, building models, monitoring and evaluating progress,
and reporting are all directed by the participants themselves”
(Scardamalia & Bereiter, 2003, p.1371).
Inquiry-based learning is a popular constructivist approach to
teaching and learning. According to the Galileo Educational
Network (2004), inquiry is “a dynamic process of being open to
wonder and puzzlement and coming to know and understand the
world.” It is characterized by curiosity, exploration, risk
taking, critical and creative thinking in authentic situations
with real audiences. Jacobsen (2001) has stated that “inquiry is
an iterative and disciplined cycle of research, reflection,
writing, and revising ones knowledge and understanding of a
phenomena under study” (p. 17). Within an inquiry approach
information comes in and from many forms including dialogue with
colleagues. Lock and Clark (2004) have pointed out that “(t)he
opportunity to interact and work with others in questioning,
sharing, discussing, constructing and negotiating meaning leads
to knowledge construction” (p. 3). It is expected that teachers
design and facilitate socially constructed learning experiences
where students create new knowledge.
of “sharing and generating new knowledge together with one’s
peers” (Slotte & Tynjälä,
p. 193) as part of a learning community is known as
collaboration. Effective collaboration
interactions with other people, reciprocal exchanges of support
and ideas, joint work on the development of performances and
products, and co-construction of understandings through
comparing alternative ideas, interpretations, and
representations” (Wiske, Franz & Breit, 2005, p. 105).
Haythornthwaite (2006) suggested that characteristics of online
collaboration include “knowledge creation, group learning,
development and maintenance processes, computer-mediated
communication, and the presentation of these issues in online
learning environments.” Key facets of online collaborative
learning include the seamless integration and infusion of
technology into the classroom (Good, O’Connor & Luce, 2004).
However, Riel (1996) stressed that online communities are
defined by the relationships between the participants rather
than the technology being used.
(1999) recommended that curriculum-based online collaborative
work should have one or more of the following goals:
exposed to differing opinions, perspectives, beliefs,
experiences and thinking process;
contrasting, and/or combing similar information collected in
communication with a real audience using text and imagery; and
their global awareness” (p. 55).
Johnson (1994) have indicated that online collaboration can
enhance learners' understanding about and appreciation of
diversity. As our pre-service teachers step into today’s diverse
and inclusive classrooms, they also need models for practice to
move from the rhetoric of what an inclusive classroom should be
like to the reality of how to teach in and about diverse
(2005) has drawn a parallel between collaboration in
asynchronous computer mediated communication and critical
thinking. “Working with a group of
equal-status peers to solve a problem is particularly conducive
to the development of critical thinking skills because it
exposes individuals to different perspectives and
interpretations of a problem or idea” (p. 26).
have explained that collaboration provides opportunities for
learners to develop “higher-order thinking skills and
problem-solving skills in the construction of their ideas about
practice” (p. 193).
Wehlage (1993) defined higher-order thinking as the ability to
“manipulate information and ideas in ways that transform their
meaning and implications, such as when students combine facts
and ideas in order to synthesize, generalize, explain,
hypothesize, or arrive at some conclusion or interpretation” (p.
online environment enables dialogue beyond surface communication
to a reflective exchange of information and ideas. Time and
space flexibility provide opportunities for in-depth
investigation or analysis, and for participants to compare and
contrast beyond the superficial level. Online collaborative
learning environments facilitate higher order thinking that
provides “the capacity to go beyond the information given, to
adopt a critical stance, to evaluate, to have metacognitive
awareness and problem solving capacities” (McLoughlin & Luca,
(2000-01) argued that we need “new, flexible frameworks that we
can use to structure understanding-focused learning activities
that help students make powerful, worthwhile use of online tools
and resources” (p. 52). Redmond and Lock’s (2006) conceptual
framework provides educators with a model for designing,
developing and implementing learning experiences where learners
create and apply knowledge in action within online collaborative
environments. The framework is an adaptation of Garrison,
Anderson and Archer’s (2000) Community of Inquiry model and is
used to examine the international online collaborative learning
experience. Garrison (2003) stated the “(t)rue communities of
inquiry are possible through collaborative and reflective
communication” (p. 48). Figure 1 illustrates the relationship
of the seven elements within the online collaborative framework.
Online collaborative framework (Redmond & Lock, 2006)
by Anderson, Rourke, Garrison and Archer (2001) is “the design,
facilitation and direction of cognitive and social processes for
the purpose of realizing personally meaningful and educationally
worthwhile learning outcomes” (p. 5). Teaching presence needs
to be developed over the course of the project to achieve
knowledge in action. It anchors the other six elements of the
online collaborative framework.
is defined by Garrison, Anderson and Archer (2000) as “the
ability of participants in a community of inquiry to project
themselves socially and emotionally, as ‘real’ people (i.e.,
their full personality), through the medium of communication
being used” (p. 94). The online environment needs to be a safe
place for participants to express their thoughts and experiences
and where all perspectives are valued and accepted to promote
sustained critical discourse.
community in the online environment is defined by Conrad
(2005) as a “general sense
of connection, belonging, and comfort that develops over time
among members of a group who share purpose or commitment to a
common goal” (p. 2). The community within online collaborative
learning is initially created through teaching presence where
the educator intentionally plans activities that promote social
presence and a sense of belonging. All participants within a
learning community have a role in sustaining and nurturing the
learning community enabling critical discourse that is crucial
to collaborative learning.
learning occurs where teaching and cognitive presences
intersect. It is the intentional design of tasks which move
learners from social relationships to the development cognitive
relationships. This can occur using a triggering event linked to
the curriculum where the learners share a common experience or
experience a feeling of dissonance.
is an exploration phase where learners are gathering, confirming
and sharing information from a range of sources. This includes
dialogue where learners deconstruct their own experiences,
brainstorm ideas and question themselves and others. Garrison,
Anderson and Archer (2001) see cognitive presence “as the extent
to which learners are able to construct and confirm meaning
through sustained reflection and discourse in a critical
community of inquiry” (p. 11).
characterized by the integration and analysis of information
from multiple sources. Learners use this knowledge to begin to
resolve their initial feeling of dissonance experienced from the
triggering event. It is here where dialogue with an informed
voice and higher order thinking influences proposed future
actions and reflection.
is the goal of online collaborative learning experiences.
It is the centre of the framework and is the culmination of all
the work that has occurred previously. Learners apply their
knowledge conceptually or within the real world. This should
provide opportunities for learners to further explore new
questions that emerge from the work and foster the iterative
through an inquiry process within a global digital classroom,
pre-service teachers identified and explored critical issues
embedded in cultural diversity and inclusion, and investigated
how to honour diversity within elementary/primary classrooms. A
major goal of the work was to provide a foundation for
pre-service teachers in two countries to engage in critical
discourse leading to a deeper understanding of diversity and
inclusion and modeling the use of online teaching and learning.
The three-phase online collaborative project occurred within a
six week period. Although all students were in face-to-face
courses, the work for this learning experience occurred online
using Blackboard™, an online course management system.
exploratory nature of the research, a case study approach was
selected. Yin (1984) defined case study as “an empirical study
that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life
context; when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are
not clearly evident; in which multiple sources of evidence are
used” (p. 23). The case study approach has provided a means to
report in a holistic manner the authentic online collaborative
learning experience. “The interest is in the process, rather
than outcomes, in context rather than a specific variable, in
discovery rather than confirmation” (Merriam, 1998, p.19). This
qualitative approach therefore provides a useful method for
examining the complexity of the online collaborative experience
of the participants.
following questions framed the research:
ways can international online collaboration promote deep
online collaboration promote inquiry into teaching within
undergraduate participants of the study were from two-seminar
classes from the Master of Teaching Program from University of
Calgary, Canada and a class from the Bachelor of Education
Program from the University of Southern Queensland, Australia.
All pre-service teachers were required to participate in the
work as part of the regular course and all were invited to
participate in the research. Twenty-two of 41 pre-service
teachers volunteered to participate in the research component of
the learning experience.
In a case
study, Creswell (1998) recommends to gather data from multiple
sources. The predominate data source was the asynchronous online
communication within Blackboard™ discussion forums. In
addition, two pre-service teachers volunteered to respond to the
interview questions at the end of the study. Further, the
researchers, who were also the Canadian teacher educators, were
participant observers who monitored and facilitated the various
interactions and the development of artifacts.
discussions were analyzed using Henri’s (1992) content analysis
model for asynchronous conferencing in computer-mediated
communication. His model was used to analyze the level of
participation and the nature of the interaction between
participants using the following five dimensions:
participation, interaction, social, cognitive and metacognitive.
Within Henri’s model, the participative dimension quantifies the
number of messages sent by a participant within a forum. The
social dimension looks at how participants create a sense of
belonging within the learning community. Postings within this
dimension are not related to the formal course context (e.g.,
self-introductions). The interactive dimension can include
independent content statements which stand alone or are in
response to or provide commentary on other messages. The
cognitive dimension of the model includes postings which
clarify, infer, judge or propose strategies. The final
dimension, metacognitive, is where self-awareness and
self-regulation of knowledge, skills and learning is expressed
by the learner (Henri, 1992).
the constant comparative method of data analysis was used in the
study. This analysis was used in the construction of themes
through capturing patterns and consistencies. The data were
coded by categories based on each of the phases of the study.
Categories and themes were further analyzed by looking for
similarities or differences within the data. These were
continually defined and redefined as they emerged throughout the
course of the data analysis.
Data in the Study
techniques were used to ensure the integrity of data in the
study. First, triangulation strengthens the internal validity of
the study because it involved “using multiple investigators,
multiple sources of data or multiple methods to confirm the
emerging findings” (Merriam, 1998, p. 204). In the study, data
were gathered through asynchronous communication, interviews and
observations. Second, in their examination of methodological
issues, Rourke, Anderson, Garrison and Archer (2001) found that
Henri’s (1992) work evaluating online discussions did not report
reliability. In addressing this concern, the researchers have
check-coded (Miles & Huberman, 1994) the data by coding and
comparing their coding results.
of the study are shared and discussed based on the three phases
of the project and in conjunction with the corresponding
elements of the conceptual framework.
Developing Community and Scaffolding Learning
of the work
of an online environment that nurtures open communication and
positive rapport was critical for the success of this
international project. Developing relationships among
stakeholders within an online learning environment can be a
challenge and does take time. Before pre-service teachers could
engage in the academic content of the project, the teacher
educators provided a space and time for them to become
comfortable sharing information and working with colleagues
which they may not meet in a face-to-face environment.
Therefore, the project began with the pre-service teachers
within both Faculties of Education having the opportunity to
introduce themselves in an online discussion forum.
triggering event for the learning experience was the
commencement of an online novel study, using a book rap
framework. Within each of the three classes, mixed groups were
created based on the novels:
The Silent Boy
by Lois Lowry (2002) - The story of a girl who tries to
befriend a young boy who lacks communication skills and is
unable to function socially within a rural community the early
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by
Mark Haddon (2002) - The story is written through the eyes of
a fifteen year old boy
with Autism and gives the reader a perspective of the world
which most of us will never experience.
Group of One
by Rachna Gilmore (2005) - A Canadian teenager,
who is a daughter of immigrants from India, struggles to align
her ethnicity and family heritage with her Canadian identity.
by Debra Ellis (2002) - The story of a young girl’s survival
after the death of her father in Taliban controlled
class groups, pre-service teachers
created a brief novel overview, identified major issues from the
novel relevant to a global society and diverse classroom, noted
links to curriculum, and created inquiry questions. After each
group posted their overview, the teacher educators’ adapted
these inquiry questions and posted them for the participants to
begin their mixed group discussions on issues of diversity and
development of social presence occurred through the introduction
activity which launched the project. Twenty-two pre-service
teachers participated in the research study. The research
participants posted 59 messages in the introduction discussion
forum. Using Henri’s (1992) five dimensions, the researchers
noted eighteen social postings were situations where pre-service
teachers introduced themselves to the others within the
project. Forty-one of the postings were interactive, where
students responded to the postings of their colleagues (Table
1). As expected, there were no postings classified as cognitive
or metacognitive. It was in this forum that the pre-service
teachers began to become comfortable communicating online and
develop their online presence as part of a community of inquiry.
Phase One Frequency of Pre-service Teachers Online Responses in
the Introduction Forum
Phase One Frequency of Pre-service Teachers Online Responses
within Book Rap Forum
The following four themes emerged from the book rap data:
contextualization of the issues, interpretation of the public
perception, personal experience, and role of the teacher and/or
school. First, in the contextualization of the issues, for
participants exploring the topic of cultural diversity, they
shared definitions, information about what it means to be
Canadian or Australian, and concepts such as integration,
assimilation, and global citizenship. Second, in the postings
related to their interpretation of public perception, they noted
some common viewpoints within their local contexts in relation
to issues raised in the novels. For example, based on The
Silent Boy, one participant argued that “our population is
still highly uneducated on the topic of mental illness.” Other
participants explored issues of stereotyping and the ongoing
misunderstandings that exist in our schools and society. A
second participant commenting on the need for respect also
recognized that a novel can provide “great
insight into how children think. Most adults make the mistake of
assuming that children understand a situation or incident.”
Third, within each book discussion, participants shared their
personal experiences relating to the topic or their observations
based on their classroom practicum experiences. Sharing these
authentic experiences added to the discourse and enhanced the
social presence. Fourth, participants acknowledged the role
that teachers and schools need to play in addressing issues of
cultural diversity and inclusion. The language used in the
postings (e.g., “we should”, “we take”, “our responsibility”,
“it is our job”) indicated that the participants perceived
themselves as teachers having a role in making a difference.
Through the scaffolding of the discourse, they went one step
further by identifying what teachers and schools should do to
support all students within the formal educational experience.
educators’ intentional planning of
the initial task enabled the participants to develop a sense of
community as they came together and began to share information
and experiences. From the nature of the postings, it appeared
that the online community was a nurturing
and a safe place to ask questions,
share ideas and begin to develop common ideals and values
related to cultural diversity and inclusive classrooms.
educators who designed and facilitated the online experience
scaffolded learning initially by using the book rap to trigger
conversation. At this stage, the pre-service teachers were
beginning to make connections, seek information and formulate
Exploring Cognitive Presence and Engaging in Critical Discourse
of the work
the issues developed in the four novels, the teacher educators
invited eight academics from both the University of Calgary and
the University of Southern Queensland to participate in the
online discussion. The academics served as experts in the
following areas: indigenous education, English as a second
language, inclusive education, disability awareness and
advocacy, cultural diversity and autistic spectrum disorder.
Separate asynchronous discussion forums were created for these
topics and the experts were assigned a forum to facilitate based
on their expertise. Pre-service teachers were asked to join
their colleagues and the experts in
discussion to become more informed, ask questions and to discuss
the implications for classroom practice.
used this phase of the project for exploration. They were
researching information to contribute to the interactions they
had with experts and colleagues. Table 3 shows that the
participants posted 30 messages of which 20 were a combination
of stand alone postings and postings in response to what others
had written. In many cases, they expressed their feelings or
reaffirmed the thoughts of others. Further, 10 of the 30
messages were classified as cognitive in that the participants
were seeking clarification, making inferences or proposing
strategies. From this analysis, it was evident that
participants gleaned information largely from the online
discourse and not from external or multiple resources.
Phase Two Frequency of Pre-service Teachers’ Online Responses
within Experts’ Forums
Three themes emerged from the pre-service teacher discourse with
the experts. First, their questions were grounded more in
praxis rather than in theory. The following examples highlight
how the pre-service teachers were looking for insights and
direction based on what they could be doing to support diversity
and inclusion: “Where is the balance and how do we know what
our boundaries are as teacher when it comes to discussing other
cultures?” “I’m wondering what you think inclusive education
should look like in the classroom, and how you believe teachers
should cater to special needs without isolating children with
disabilities?” Second, pre-service teachers were very aware
that they needed to put into practice strategies to support
diversity and inclusion. In their postings, they shared
experiences and raised awareness of issues. For example, they
questioned who decides what is to be taught and from what
perspective is indigenous issues taught? They wanted to know
how to teach indigenous studies in an authentic way. It was
evident in this particular discussion forum, that they were very
conscious of honoring and respecting other cultures. Third,
they drew upon their practicum, personal experiences and
observations in responding to experts and colleagues, although
limited connections were made to other comments or to research
issues are apparent in the data from this phase. First, the
discourse in phases one and two did not shift along the
continuum from being monologues where experiences and opinions
are shared to the demonstration of higher order thinking through
rich, informed discussion (e.g., embedding research literature)
as part of the critical discourse and the building of shared
meaning and new knowledge. Often a culture of pathological
politeness, a term identified by Walter Archer (cited in
Garrison & Anderson, 2003), exists within online dialogue where
participants statements are not challenged. The teacher
educators and/or experts needed to play an active role in the
development of group trust and modeling of critical dialogue
“which supports and encourages probing questions, skepticism and
the contribution of more explanatory ideas” (Vaughan, 2004, p.
pre-service teachers asked questions and acknowledged the need
to address cultural diversity and inclusivity in schools.
However, there was limited evidence indicating that they were
developing strategies to address diversity and inclusion and
limited sharing of information in terms of ‘how will I do
this’? The transfer from personal commitment (e.g., ‘I need to
do this’) to professional practice (e.g., ‘how might it look?’)
was not evident in the data. As pre-service teachers, they may
not have yet had opportunities to delve deep into relevant
literature and observe theory in practice within their field
placements. As a result, they may have limited models or images
to draw from as they develop their pedagogical practice that
embraces diversity and inclusivity.
Three: From Discourse to Knowledge in Action
of the work
A two-hour videoconference was organized for the pre-service
teachers, experts and teacher educators in Calgary and Toowoomba.
The purpose of the conference was for the pre-service teachers
and experts to further explore pedagogical practices and
classroom applications. This was taken up in two ways in the
conference. First, as a large group they engaged in
conversation based on the following questions: Does your
pedagogy need to change to support and nurture an inclusive
classroom? What might an inclusive classroom look like, sound
like and feel like? Second, in small groups at the two
locations, each group was given a classroom teacher scenario to
consider in addressing the type of support needed
to meet the learning needs of
students and what would be required in terms of planning and
teaching to meet these learning needs. The videoconference
concluded with a brief conversation about what type of toolkit
of resources, artifacts, skills and expertise do pre-service
teachers need to create inclusive classrooms.
As part of
the knowledge in action, pre-service teachers who attended the
videoconference were asked to develop an action plan with short
and long term goals for personal development in the areas of
diversity and inclusion. Drawing from their experience within
their respective education programs and knowledge developed from
the project experience, the action plans were to focus on their
teaching in their next major teaching practicum experience.
Through this plan, with each objective, they were to explore how
they were going to achieve it, identify a timeline and resources
required, acknowledge possible barriers to be addressed, and
noted how they would know if they had achieved their objective.
As the final
component of the work, pre-service teachers were asked to write
a reflection of their experience working as online collaborators
who had inquired into issues and practices that impact teaching
and learning in the twenty-first century. These reflections were
shared in an online discussion forum.
acknowledged in their reflections that they enjoyed and/or were
supportive of the online collaborative experience. Only one
pre-service teacher indicated that she “did not get immersed
into the international project and was just posting things to
get them done.” This individual stated that “it took a lot of
time to read their responses that were posted by different
students.” However, she commented that she “did enjoy the
emerged from the data. First, the books used to initiate the
project were well suited to the topics and for the pre-service
teachers. One participant commented, “I loved reading the
novel, and was really excited for what was to come.” Another
pre-service teacher noted that the online collaborative
experience allowed them to continue what they had learned from
the novels and to “delve deeper into our topics of interest.”
participants appreciated the opportunity to connect to
international colleagues and the experts in their discussions
about diversity and inclusion. They were able to explore
similarities and differences between the two countries in terms
of how diversity and inclusion are taken up in the classroom and
put into practice in education. One pre-service teacher revealed
it was a valuable “experience to be able to share ideas with
such a diversity of others. I really enjoyed reading everyone’s
thoughts and insights especiaspan>
videoconference experience pr="MsoNormal" style="text-align: justify">
experience of working within an international collaborative
project has given participants insights into how ICT can be used
and how such a project might be used within their classrooms.
One participant noted that she had “learned how technology was
and could be utilized and applied to facilitate discussions
across several viewpoints and landscapes.” Another pre-service
teacher saw how this type of online collaborative work could be
transferable to higher grades in elementary/primary classrooms.
challenge noted by the participants in the study was time and
timing. The Canadian pre-service teachers commented that the
project occurred from the middle to the end of the semester
which seemed to provide them with limited time given the other
semester expectations. Recommendations were made in terms of
starting earlier and/or running the project over two semesters.
reflections, participants acknowledged the benefits of the
online collaborative experience and insights gained in terms of
how ICT can be used in their classrooms to connect to content
and experts. The project gave them an experience to develop a
deeper understanding of diversity and inclusion in education.
Living and reflecting on the lived experience has given the
pre-service teachers knowledge and experience to draw from in
terms of integrating ICT into their future practice.
centre of the online collaborative framework is
knowledge in action where learners
test and defend solutions to problems or apply their knowledge
to the real world. The pre-service teachers created action
plans. However, given the online learning experience was
completed at the end of the semester for the Canadian
pre-service teachers, the researchers will not know if and how
the pre-service teachers enacted these plans. The long term
effect of the project and the action plans would require an
additional study to follow these pre-service teachers through
their next teaching practicum to see how they draw upon the
project experience, what questions raised from the experience
were used to trigger a new cycle of inquiry, and how their
knowledge and experience gained through the project guided their
implications have been identified
from the research. First, to develop and foster
metacognitive awareness within pre-service teachers requires
articulation and modeling. Henri (1992) defines metacognitive as
having a “[s]tatement related to general knowledge and skills
and showing awareness, self-control, and self-regulation of
learning” (p.125). To develop metacognitive knowledge and
strategies, teacher educators should discuss and show
pre-service teachers indicators of dialogue that demonstrate
metacognitive awareness. The following are examples of
metacognitive indicators: “Asking whether one’s statement is
true...Predicting the consequences of an action… ‘I’m pleased to
have learned…’” (Henri, 1992, p. 132).
(1998) argued that conscious deliberation and regulation of
“one’s knowledge, processes, and cognitive and affective states”
(p. 11) aide in the development of content knowledge and
pedagogical practice. Hartman (2001) suggested that verbalizing
thinking encourages the development of metacognition. It is
through the intentional planning and the modeling by teacher
educators that this can be achieved and that pre-service
teachers have a greater awareness of how to accomplish this with
their future students through inquiry-based learning.
aim of the project was to move beyond the location of
information and answering questions. Cognitive presence as
evidenced by engaging in higher order thinking within online
spaces requires facilitation of the
discussion of personal narratives to discourse “that is
conceptually rich, coherently organized and persistently
exploratory” (Lipman, 1991, p. 19). Critical thinking is shaped
by reflective thinking and metacognition (Garrison, 2003).
Further, the role of teaching presence is crucial in the design
and implementation of online collaborative work so to achieve
higher order thinking demonstrated by knowledge in action.
time and timing are important factors to consider in the
intentional design of the work and in facilitating the
discourse. Harris (1999) argued that
the quantity of time allocated for an online collaborative
learning experience can be insufficient. Therefore, there needs
to be time for planning, developing and implementing
online collaborative learning. There needs to be adequate time
for the various stakeholders to meet, develop shared
philosophies, discuss viewpoints about ICT integration, clarify
expectations and tasks, and develop a climate of trust to ask
questions and negotiate decisions around the work. In addition,
the formal structure of semesters at each educational
institution (e.g., semester start times, time off-campus for
field experience and holidays) impacts availability of time and
hence tasks requirements for learners to complete. Further, if
working with people outside of the local time zones, then
consideration needs to be given to time changes and when people
can meet, if synchronous communication is required.
Paulus, Yalcin and Chang (2003)
have recommended that “good learning is collaborative and that
understanding comes through modeling, participation in, and
reaction to the behaviors and thoughts of others”
(p. 119). This collaborative project created a forum for
pre-service teachers to experience ICT integration as a way of
interacting with content and people in the exploration of
diversity and inclusion. At the same time, it provided them
with a model of how they can capitalize on the potential
advantages of ICT and to extend learning beyond traditional
teachers valued the opportunity to inquire and engage in
conversation about similar issues (e.g., diversity and
inclusion) within different contexts and countries. The
multiple perspectives from colleagues, educators and experts
influenced their personal meaning and shared understanding of
issues and practice facing pre-service and in-service teachers
goals are to engage pre-service teachers in higher order
thinking and metacognitive processes through online
collaborative experiences, consideration must be given to
teaching presence. The intentionality of the design of the
inquiry-based work and the facilitation of the online discourse
requires attention to time as a key component to teaching
presence before, during and after the educational experience.
digital classrooms provide flexible forums where pre-service
teachers, teacher educators, and others (e.g., experts and
in-service teachers) have opportunities to inquire into topics
of mutual interest and explore possibilities in practice
relevant for teaching and learning in the twenty-first century.
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