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About the distance learning program at the Iceland University of Education Þuríður Jóhannsdóttir March 16. 2004 Völvunetið.

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Presentation on theme: "About the distance learning program at the Iceland University of Education Þuríður Jóhannsdóttir March 16. 2004 Völvunetið."— Presentation transcript:

1 About the distance learning program at the Iceland University of Education Þuríður Jóhannsdóttir March 16. 2004 Völvunetið

2 Flexibility and Responsibility in Teacher Education: Experiences and Possibilities in Iceland and North-Norway Paper presented at the NERA congress: Randi Skelmo og Þuríður Jóhannsdóttir Iceland University of Education in Reykjavík Department of Teacher Education in Tromsø University College serving the need for having educated teachers in sparsely populated rural areas

3 Methods and theoretical background How different needs of communities and individuals have been met with flexible programs, the important role that the Internet has played in opening up new possibilities for distance education How the use of diverse ICT tools has influenced the structure of the programs as well as both learning tasks and teaching methods Situated learning - learning is a function of the activity, context, and culture in which it is situated Activity theory used to enhance understanding where both learning and teaching are looked upon as activities, performed in a certain context that is historically situated

4 The Case of the Iceland University of Education over 2000 students, of which more than 50% are enrolled in distance education programs. IUE has played a leading role in the development of distance education on the Internet in Iceland

5 First steps in flexible teacher education in Iceland 1979 one-time opportunity for people that had served in rural schools teacher shortages in rural communities 1988 – still need Self-studies played a crucial role Seen in the light of situated learning theories, all learning can be understood as some kind of enculturation with that in mind, the advantages of being a part of the school culture while simultaneously learning to become a teacher are obvious.

6 New Possibilities Open Up with the Internet In January 1993: a full Bachelor of Education (B. Ed.) degree through distance education using the new possibilities that were opening up with ICT organized as a part-time course E-mail was supposed to be the main media of communication correspondence school using e-mail Students and staff alike recognized the importance of meeting face-to-face

7 Technological and Pedagogical Support in the Community Early build-up of Internet connections in Icelandic primary schools through the Icelandic Educational Network – Ísmennt Ísmennt: a grassroots movement of several rural schools in North Iceland The distance program could rely on their support District educational offices supporting the student’s access to necessary technology. These offices were also important promoters of this educational opportunity for rural schools Student teachers had job in local schools

8 The Use of ICT as a tool in Distance Education E-mail mailing lists make it possible to communicate in a collective way A community of learners on the Internet Web-based solutions have made discussion and collaboration even easier Now a web site is set up for each course in the distance program, either in systems like WebCT, or an open web site that teachers make

9 Learning tasks Discussions about the learning material Publishing completed assignments on the course-web Some teachers have asked the students to keep a digital portfolio –Evaluations of distance students –and for the students to monitor their progress



12 E-Learning award year 2002 The teacher, Salvör Gissurardóttir, used digital portfolios with multimodal representations of learning assignments in a creative and successful way. The novelty was also a new way of using blogg (web-log) both –to motivate and –to map students’ learning –as well as enhancing the learning community, as the students were able to follow their fellow students’ learning logs

13 More interesting examples History courses where students (and teachers) have used an open web site to publish historical information on the Icelandic turf-house tradition A database with information collected from old people in their families or communities, in text, drawing, and photo formats Teacher: Þorsteinn Helgason

14 Interesting examples - 3 BarnUng a Web on children´s litteratureBarnUng Aimed at teachers and student teachers, with the Internet playing a key role as a medium and environment for learning Building on the learning theories of social constructivism, the web is a common arena for the teacher and the students to construct knowledge A resource for primary school teachers, supporting them and their pupils to use children’s literature in the classroom Teacher: Þuríður Jóhannsdóttir

15 The Development in Iceland Policy to be an open and flexible institution that offers all its educational programs at a distance through the Internet This form of education is becoming a known and popular form for learning Life-long learning centres in rural communities support distance learners Positive effects of distance teacher education in rural communities Continuing – graduate studies

16 The driving motivation No longer shortage of educated teachers in rural communities But demand for open and flexible education in an educational market Emerging needs in society for new form and content in education The universities’ role to be alert participants in dialogue with their social environment

17 Challenges Ahead Be prepared to respond to demands from non-traditional student groups The strength of the flexible teacher education programs has been that the teacher students had jobs as teachers in the schools Now the teacher students, recruited to distance learning programs, do not have to have teacher experience nor do they have to live in the countryside. the teacher educators cannot assume that teacher students are working at local schools.

18 Distance learning in social context The first distance-learning programs involving the use of the Internet in Iceland in 1993 is a good example of how studies were planned in a social and techno- cultural context where distance teaching and learning activity was scaffolded by both ICT technology and the school communities in the district.

19 More challenges Heterogeneous student groups Distance students are in different places and different social positions with inherent differences in possibilities and interests The teachers’ challenge to learn to use ICT-tools to support students Extend their professionalism to include distance teaching and learning Both technical and social contexts are important

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