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Findings of pgce student focus groups


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Findings of pgce student focus groups

  1. 1. Digital Futures in Teacher Education project:Summary of findings from focus groups with PGCE studentsRationale for the focus groupDeFT project is involved in making OERs for use with Student teachers. We wantedto find out what ideas students about digital literacy and OERs.MethodsWe invited a small group of PGCE student teachers from Sheffield Hallam Universityand Sheffield University to come to talk to us. We had been told by their tutorsabout the work on digital literacies that they had been involved with, and we wantedto give them the opportunity to talk freely about their experiences. We decided touse a focus group approach, and obtained permission from the students to tape thesessions and to use their data for our case studies. We had prepared some openended questions to promote discussion, but intended that the students should beable to freely contribute and direct their own debates. NW conducted and scribedthe first focus group, and AG and NW shared the second. Both groups were held atthe respective universities. The University of Sheffield students had just completedan activity involving video recording and editing at two CLCs, and the Hallamstudents had just spent a day preparing for work with A-level students that somewere planning to use blogging to aid academic writing. All students were whitewomen aged from 24-26 except for one man. They were all English students, andhad volunteered to take part after being approached by their tutors. Notes weretaken from both meetings and sent to the students for comment. There was no feedback. The Tutors were also kept informed.Digital literacyDifferent levels of digital literacy were represented in the groups. In both groupsthere were some students who were less, eager to embrace new technologies intheir private lives and incorporate digital technology in their pedagogy. This seemedto be by choice- one student refused to join Facebook, and admitted that she wasnot comfortable with social media. Others were happy to keep up with the latestgadgets (one through her boyfriend’s interest in computer games), and toincorporate elements of their experiences in their lessons. Students from bothgroups had a fairly balanced view of the uses of digital technology in schools. All feltthat it was important to equip children with a digitally literacy to enable them to findThis content is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0UK: England & Wales 1
  2. 2. work when they leave school. They were all in favour in the appropriate use oftechnology in the classroom. Students were also aware of the possible problems inusing the web with their students. Many cited the need for their pupils to becritically aware of their own digital footprints and web safety. Although they wereexcited by the use of web 2 tools, and video production, they were aware that theirpupils still needed to use traditional tools like libraries- paper and pencils. Somewere dismayed by the diminishing libraries, closed blinds and dark classrooms thatcan be the by-product of advances in technology. Many felt that they were of adifferent digital generation to their pupils, and that they had to work hard to keep upwith them.Open Educational Resources All students used the web to prepare for their lessons. They used open databaseslike find resources, and stressed the importance ofclear signposting and cataloguing so that they did not waste their valuable planningtime. They did not seem to be aware of ownership or copyright issues. At firststudents were very receptive to the concept of contributing to open educationalresources. “We share our work with the children” said one student teacher, “so weare used to sharing our work with each other; that is a part of our professionalidentity.” Another said if her work was good enough for Ofsted, and good enoughfor her observations with her head teacher, then it should be good enough to sharewith other teachers. However when they started to think more deeply about theconcept, worries started to emerge. Some worried that their work might not begood enough. Others worried that if their resource was freely available on the web,then people would access it without understanding what it was for, or use it in thewrong way.ConclusionsAll students saw a need to include technology and to teach digital literacy in theirlessons. Some students were more engaged and confident with digital technologythan others, and this was linked to a choice of lifestyle. All students agreed withOpen Educational Resources in principle, but this was the first time they had beenintroduced to the concept and needed more time to think through the implications.This content is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0UK: England & Wales 2