Something Old, Something New: Initial Teacher Education in the Online Mode
Access to the internet has allowed online learning to become widespread. However, online learning can be met with scepticism and is often seen as second best. This thesis examines experiences of several beginning teachers who completed their initial teacher education solely in the online mode. It sought to discover perceptions of their preparedness to teach in a face-to-face classroom. The methodological approach was a multiple case study underpinned by a constructivist paradigm. Nine beginning teachers volunteered to complete two surveys and seven agreed to be interviewed. Using inductive content analysis, three overarching themes emerged. Participants were in general agreement that the content covered in the online course was comprehensive and had prepared them well to begin teaching, though findings did indicate that the beginning teachers experienced a theory/practice divide between what was learnt from the online content and what they experienced in schools during practicum. Studying online had advantages and challenges, the major advantage being the flexibility online study affords, and the major challenge coping with the sense of isolation from peers. The beginning teachers were in a variety of contexts and received varying induction support. Those receiving little support encountered difficulties in managing students' behaviour and experienced falling efficacy, emphasising that effective induction is essential for beginning teachers to thrive and develop professionally. The findings from this research identified recommendations to improve the online initial teacher education learning experience. The links between the online programme and teaching practicum need strengthening so these parts of the programme align. Lecturers need to make full use of Web 2.0 tools to develop tasks that create learning communities and dispel the feeling of isolation. Further research into the relationship between induction support and efficacy needs to occur to see if this phenomenon is more widespread.