In this blog we seek to understand the impact that the sudden and enforced move to online teaching due to the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the perceptions of teacher educators in initial teacher education (ITE) based in Wales. That the use of technology and the availability of digital information has had an impact on the way people interact and learn is nothing new – indeed, research studies indicate that a high proportion of undergraduates find the traditional form of lecture uninspiring, preferring practical group-based collaborative activities (Pryor, Hurtado, DeAngelo, Blake, & Tran, 2009).
Learners are taking control of their own learning using YouTube and other technologies to develop skills that they believe are important in today’s world (Norman & Furnes, 2016). In order to accommodate the students’ aspirations to learn in this way, lecturers in higher education need to examine their pedagogies (Beetham & Sharpe, 2019) and integrate opportunities to enable this. One of the major barriers to developing such pedagogies may be a reluctance among academics to do so (Fiedler, Giddens, & North, 2014).
‘This blog is based on a sociocultural study which explored teacher educators’ perceptions of the impact that enforced use of technology has had on their practice, and the implications of this for their wellbeing.’
This blog is based on a sociocultural study which explored teacher educators’ perceptions of the impact that enforced use of technology has had on their practice, and any implications this may have had for their wellbeing. Twelve semi-structured interviews were carried out with participants with both English- and Welsh-speaking academics. Furthermore, a survey that included the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale (Tennant et al., 2007) and 14 open-ended questions on their feelings about teaching during the pandemic has been distributed to the participating department. The data from the interviews will be analysed using Braun and Clarke’s (2006) thematic analysis, and descriptive and inferential statistics will present the results of the wellbeing survey.
Many of the emergent themes that appear from the interviews have synergies with other research into the impact of Covid-19, as explored in previous BERA Blog posts in this series. These include the following.
- Virtual classroom management.
- Relationship-building between the academic and the student.
- Pedagogy: while participants discuss implementing online pedagogies, they appear to be moving their existing pedagogies and resources from a face-to-face learning environment to a digital environment (see Lymperis, 2020). Furthermore, any increased use of technology appears to conform to what the institution or others are using.
From a wellbeing perspective, comments from the open-ended questions focus on the lack of physical contact with colleagues (see Banegas, 2020), and that the speed at which staff had moved to online teaching led to a feeling of unpreparedness (see Zhou & Wolstencroft, 2020) and a fear of ‘messing up’. Staff also felt out of touch with students (see Kidd, 2020). In particular, they spoke of not being able to form bonds with their students. However, they also spoke of the positive side of using new technology, citing greater flexibility for their teaching and improved planning opportunities. When asked how they felt about the move to blended-learning in the future, most of them welcomed it, suggesting that it would be an opportunity to make the most of the positives (see LeFevre, 2020). These included working from home, the lack of physical constraints in terms of group size, and the ability to embrace future technologies.
Given that the impact of Covid-19 on educational pratice is not likely to disappear, the need for an effective online pedagogy is paramount. We need to design learning in such a way that educators can engage and motivate students online. Furthermore, educators need to be given agency to develop confidence in adopting different ways of working and interacting with both colleagues and learners, while, ultimately, being mindful of the impact of the forced change on the wellbeing of students and educators alike.
Banegas, D. L. (2020, May 15). Online teacher education in times of Covid-19 [BERA Blog]. Retrieved from https://www.bera.ac.uk/blog/online-teacher-education-in-times-of-covid-19
Beetham, H., & Sharpe, R. (eds.) (2019). Rethinking pedagogy for a digital age: Principles and practices of design. Abingdon: Routledge.
Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3, 77–101.
Fiedler, R., Giddens, J., & North, S. (2014). Faculty experience of a technological innovation in nursing education. Nursing Education Perspectives, 35(6), 387–391.
Kidd, W. (2020, June 25). Agility, return and recovery: Our new Covid context for schooling and teacher education? [BERA Blog]. Retrieved from https://www.bera.ac.uk/blog/agility-return-and-recovery-our-new-covid-context-for-schooling-and-teacher-education
LeFrevre, D. (2020, July 16). Online education: What will we keep as lockdown ends? [BERA Blog]. Retrieved from https://www.bera.ac.uk/blog/online-education-what-will-we-keep-as-lockdown-ends
Lymperis, L. (2020, May 27). Social constructivism and participative learning beyond bricks and mortar [BERA Blog]. Retrieved from https://www.bera.ac.uk/blog/social-constructivism-and-participative-learning-beyond-bricks-and-mortar
Norman, E., & Furnes, B. (2016). The relationship between metacognitive experiences and learning: Is there a difference between digital and non-digital study media? Computers in Human Behavior, 54, 301–309.
Pryor, J. H., Hurtado, S., DeAngelo, L., Blake, L. P., & Tran, S. (2009). The American freshman: National norms. Los Angeles: University of California.
Tennant, R., Hiller, L., Fishwick, R., Platt, S., Joseph, S., Weich, S., Parkinson, J., Secker, S., & Stewart-Brown, S. (2007). The Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale (WEMWBS): Development and UK validation. Health & Quality of Life Outcomes, 5(63).
Zhou, X, & Wolstencroft, P. (2020, April 9). Digital masters? Reflecting on the readiness of students and staff for digital learning [BERA Blog]. Retrieved from https://www.bera.ac.uk/blog/digital-masters-reflecting-on-the-readiness-of-students-and-staff-for-digital-learning