The BIG Finish!

It’s hard to believe that my first semester of doctoral coursework has come to a close. It’s been a wild ride filled with lots of reading, writing, questioning, pondering, studying, collaborating, etc. The final task for my educational technology research course was to create an “elevator pitch” to outline my research interests. This turned out to be a much harder task than I thought because I have “lots” of ideas from my many years of working in the field of education. Hot topics currently on my mind include:

  • Flipped classroom model – moving from passive to active learning for iGeneration teachers using Blendspace or a beta equivalent.
  • The need for multiple digital spaces to transform a teacher education program – a digital ecology focus.
  • Flexible technology-mediated pathways to foster the 4C’s in a teacher preservice program.
  • Removing the content to learn how to teach in a technology-mediated environment (yes I know this one is out there and crazy…but my years of experience tell me it’s not really that crazy – think themes & Finland:)

Overall, I learned that I really like working with teachers and future teachers to provide authentic and collaborative learning opportunities to push their thinking, pedagogy and technology immersion. In the end, I selected to create an elevator pitch on a Hybrid Learning Space for preservice teachers. Think of this hybrid approach as a place where identity and community get realized through a technology-mediated digital space as well as a way to modifying pedagogy across path, pace, time and place. It’s like a space to practice “school” in the 21st century!¬†Shown below is my first attempt of many at sharing a research interest I have:

Hybrid Learning Space

Zeichner, K. (2010). Rethinking the connections between campus courses and field experiences in college- and university-based teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 61(1-2), 89-99.

The author examines the work currently occurring around the country on the concept of hybrid spaces to more closely connect the campus courses and the field experiences in preservice teacher education programs. Zeichner states that many colleges and universities have been plagued for years for providing preservice teacher education programs that are disconnected to what is happening in the K-12 arena. He further states many reasons why the divide between campus and field-based teacher education has endured for so long, i.e., graduate students not interested in teacher education as a field of study, a new cohort of graduate students occurs each fall on campuses, few incentives for tenure-track staff to invest time in coordinating campus & field based components, outsourced placement process, etc. Additionally, there is a growing consensus that much of what teachers need to learn must be learned in and from practice rather than in preparing for practice (Ball & Cohen, 1999; Hammerness et al., 2005). Thus, Zeichner states that there is much disagreement about the conditions for teacher learning that must exist for this practice to be educative and enduring and offers the concept of a third space (hybrid space) as a lens to discuss various kinds of boundary crossing experiences (p. 91-92).

The idea of a third space comes from the hybridity theory and recognizes that individuals draw on multiple discourses to make sense of the world (Bhabba, 1990). Zeichner defines third space as the creation of a hybrid space in which preservice teacher education programs bring together school and university-based teacher educators and practitioners and academic knowledge in new ways to enhance the learning of future teachers (p. 92). Additionally, the author studied “boundary crossing” experiences at some college and university teacher education programs to highlight a more synergistic and transformative way that a hybrid space supports preservice teacher learning instead of traditional practices. However, this is a big shift from the days of John Dewey who argued against unguided school experiences and was a big proponent of planned and purposeful school experiences for future teacher learning. As highlighted by the author, with the growing contemporary focus on rethinking and redesigning the connection of college and university coursework for preservice teacher education programs, is a hopeful sign that the aged teacher preparation model is on its way out (Zeichner, p. 95).

Although this article did not address a digital or better yet, a technology-mediated environment to the hybrid space, the concept explored still has significant value for the changing face of learning that is modified by time, space, place and pace. In my opinion, a hybrid space is an “ideal”, nonhierarchical environment where students, professors, practitioners, content experts and mentors can come together to: 1) meet and hold conversations, 2) ask questions & make sense of theories & practical applications, 3) learn from each other – lessons learned, perceptions, thought processes, 4) have social interactions with a diverse and global audience, and 5) even press “pause” as needed to work through ideas and concepts. I feel a hybrid space is¬†potentially transformative to the field of education. To me, it is a space where authentic learning can take place and most matches the complexities that make up the ecology of teaching & learning. Additionally, I think it is natural to begin occurring in higher education, but do wonder when the K-12 school systems will begin to think about hybrid spaces for their teachers and students.

Works Cited:

Ball, D., & Cohen, D. (1999). Developing practice, developing practitioners: Toward a practice-based theory of professional education. In L. Darling-Hammond & G. Sykes (Eds.), Teaching as the learning profession (pp. 3-32). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Bhabba, H. (1990). The third space. In J. Rutherford (Ed.), Identity, community, culture and difference (pp. 207-221). London: Lawrence and Wishart.

Hammerness, K., Darling-Hammond, L., & Bransford, J. (2005). How teachers learn and develop. In L. Darling-Hammond & J. Bransford (Eds.), Preparing teachers for a changing world (pp. 358-398). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Other Works Researched (for learning purposes):

Caldwell, G., Bilandzic, M., & Foth, M. (2012). Towards visualising people’s ecology of hybrid personal learning environments. Proceedings of the 4th Media Architecture Biennale Conference, November 15, pp. 13-22.

Lynch, T. (2015). Teacher education physical education: In search of a hybrid space. Cogent Education, 2(1), 1-23.

Nixon, H. (2011). ‘From bricks to clicks’: Hybrid commercial spaces in the landscape of early literacy and learning. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 11(2), 114-140.

O’Byrne, W. I., & Pytash, K. E. (2015). Hybrid and blended learning: Modifying pedagogy across path, pace, time, and place. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 59(2), 137-140.

Wood, M. B., & Turner, E. E. (2014). Bringing the teacher into teacher preparation: learning from mentor teachers in joint methods activities. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 18(1), 27-51.