Approaches to researching digital-pedagogical competence development in VE-based teacher education
For the past two decades, Virtual Exchange (VE) has enjoyed increasing popularity in university education, including initial (language) teacher education programmes (O’Dowd, 2018). Collaborating online with colleagues and students from different cultural backgrounds and educational systems has allowed trainees to experience and reflect on issues related to technology and pedagogy in authentic linguistic and intercultural contexts. In 2017/2018, the Evaluating and Upscaling Telecollaborative Teacher Education (EVALUATE) project – an Erasmus+ funded European Policy Experimentation (EPE) – collected and analysed data from VEs across the curriculum involving over 1,000 participants at Initial Teacher Education (ITE) institutions in Europe and beyond.
Here, we specifically focus on the impact of VE on their digital-pedagogical competence development. Following a mixed method design we used the Technological Pedagogical
Content Knowledge (TPACK) work of Mishra and Koehler (2006) and Schmidt et al. (2009) in a pre-post-test manner. These were complemented by qualitative content analysis of prompted diary entries at key stages during the exchanges to collect further evidence of existing and emerging digital-pedagogical skills among the trainees. Based on one case study of a German-Polish EVALUATE exchange we will exemplify the aforementioned research methods and associated challenges. We will illustrate the urgent need for initial and in-service teacher education that combines technology and pedagogy and argue for VE as an ideal context to this effect. Finally, we will demonstrate how the chosen research approach has contributed to providing the kind of evidence required by education administrators and policy makers for a systematic integration of VE into teacher education programmes.
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