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From Kansas to Queensland: Global learning in preservice elementary teacher education

By James J. Watters, Geoff Rogers, Kay Gibson, Mara Alagic and Connie Haack


Communication of information between groups of humans has been extended through out history progressing from smoke signals, drum beats, message couriers, post, telegraph, telephone and now the ICT. The time between the utterance of a message and the reception of that message has progressively decreased. We are now able to communicate relatively cheaply, simultaneously sharing and responding to ideas and thoughts on a scale never previously possible. Although the technology exists to make possible easy access to people in all parts of the world, we still lack understandings of the aspirations and sensitivities of other cultures with whom we can communicate. This project supported pre-service elementary teachers in two countries – Australia and the United States – to engage in collaborative learning through Internet communications. The purpose of the project was to develop greater understanding of other’s cultures, and practices in teaching elementary students. Students attending an Australian preservice primary science methods course were matched with a cohort of undergraduate preservice elementary student teachers from a university in the United States studying an integrated mathematics science methods course. Over a six-week period the students engaged in the computer-mediated communication and were encouraged to learn about mutual cultural practices and primary/elementary science education in both countries. The outcomes demonstrated that students involved in the project benefited from an array of different and enriching learning experiences. Students benefited through enhanced understanding of the teaching of science and an appreciation of the common problems confronting science education in both countries. However, there was little engagement in debate or discussion of individual differences and the cultural context of each other’s country even when opportunities presented themselves. Nevertheless, the on-line tasks provided the pre-service teachers with the experience and confidence to engage their own students in similar global learning initiatives when they become teachers

Topics: e, learning, learning communities, e, community, science education, pre, service education, discussion forum, global learning, elementary education, Australia, Kansas
Year: 2004
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