Volume 1, Issue 2 Fall 2002

Making the Case for the Use of Web-Based Portfolios in Support of Learning to Teach

Lucy Avraamidou
Carla Zembal-Saul
Pennsylvania State University


Portfolios have been used in teacher education in different formats, in a variety of ways and for different purposes. Portfolios can be used as evaluation tools, to illustrate good teaching, to demonstrate progress, to integrate collection of work, to share work, and to support reflection and professional growth. In this paper we demonstrate through a review of the literature how portfolios have been used in teacher education and we discuss how hypermedia portfolios have been gaining popularity among teacher educators due to their potential to overcome the limitations of the traditional paper portfolio: failure to capture dynamic and complex processes of teaching and learning, danger of a portfolio becoming a mere exhibition, photocopying and storage problems. We argue that portfolio development, hypermedia authoring, and the Web-based forum combined has the potential to provide a powerful learning tool for prospective teachers. We propose a model of Web-based portfolio in service of supporting reflecting thinking and learning to teach at the elementary school. This model includes two main components: (a) three versions of a personal, evidence-based philosophy about teaching and learning developed and revised over a semester, and (b) a collection of evidence consisted of course assignments.

Online Learning: Examing the Successful Student Profile

J. Michael Blocher
Laura Sujo de Montes
Elizabeth M. Willis
Gary Tucker
Northern Arizona University


Can anyone learn anywhere at anytime or are there required pre-requisite skills or strategies to achieve such learning? Certainly, it seems logical to assume that access, availability of hardware, and knowledge of software are some of the items required, but are there others? Are there strategies and skills that can be taught to promote greater success? Does the successful online learner need to possess specific skills or strategies to be successful? This paper details Phase I of a longitudinal study investigating distance learning students' technical skills, cognitive/metacognitive learning strategies, motivation, and stages of concern as they enter an online Masters of Education in Educational Technology degree program. Preliminary results indicate that the program seems to attract relatively new, young in-service teachers that are confident in their technology skills that might be seen as leaders in their field. Because the degree program demands a great deal of peer collaboration within the course work, particular attention was paid to data regarding the cognitive learning strategy of peer collaboration and help seeking. Although, these students indicated that they would utilize peer collaboration as a learning strategy, they might be more apt to utilize it from a help seeking aspect. However, they also indicated that if they did seek help it would probably be from the instructor first.

A Summary of Research Exploring Hard and Soft Scaffolding for Teachers and Students Using a Multimedia Supported Learning Environment

Thomas A. Brush
Indiana University

John W. Saye
Auburn University


The purpose of this paper is to summarize and synthesize findings from a line of research investigating the potential of scaffolding for supporting student inquiry about ill-structured social problems. Specifically, we implemented a problem-based, student-centered instructional unit (Decision Point!) with 11th grade general history students in our partner teachers’ classroom on three separate occasions. In this paper, we use data obtained from these implementations to address the following questions: Can we design scaffolds to assist students with engaging in ill-structured content more deeply so that they can perceive the complexity of ill-structured problems?; Can scaffolds assist students with considering alternative perspectives and arriving at problem solutions?; Can scaffolds assist students with handling the cognitive demands required of disciplined inquiry?; How can we support teachers in providing more effective soft scaffolding for students?

The Use of Online Synchronous Discussion Groups to Enhance Community Formation and Professional Identity Development

Lee Duemer
Dean Fontenot
Kathryn Gumfory
Mary Kallus
JoAnn Larsen
Susan Schafer
Benny C. Shaw, Jr.
Texas Tech University


Synchronous online discussions are being increasingly used in higher education in order to facilitate learning and group interaction between on-campus and off-campus students. In response to calls from the engineering community to integrate humanities studies into the engineering curriculum, English and Engineering faculty at a large urban university collaborated to design an online literature discussion course for first-year engineering students. Students were assigned two works of literature that dealt with ethical and professional development issues in engineering. The online discussions took place outside class in a Multiuser Object Oriented (MOO) environment, where all discussions were logged. As researchers examined the transcripts of these discussions, the theme of community formation emerged. The transcripts were coded and then used to identify the varying levels of community formation during the course of the semester as well as the students’ development of professional identity. Results suggest that behaviors of the mentor, negotiation of group knowledge, and exclusion of late arriving members characterized communities. The results also suggest that through reading and discussion of professional issues, students may begin to view themselves as members of the engineering profession.

Faculty and Student Perceptions of Technology Integration in Teaching

John R. Savery
University of Akron


This study examines the perceptions of faculty and students on the topic of technology integration in the teaching of courses at a Midwestern College of Education. Examining the perceptions of a target audience is a widely used strategy based on the premise that perceptions matter and often influence behaviors. This approach has been used to study faculty perceptions of distance education (Belcheir & Cucek, 2002), and also student perceptions of online learning (O’Malley & McCraw, 1999). Cope and Ward (2002) used a phenomenological research approach to examine the importance of high school teacher perceptions on the integration of learning technology in the classroom and concluded that “teacher perceptions of learning technologies are likely to be key factors in the successful integration of learning technologies” (p. 72). They further noted that successful integration is more likely to occur when “teachers perceive learning technologies as part of a student-centred/conceptual change teaching approach” (p. 72).

The Impacts of Text-Based CMC on Online Social Presence

Chih-Hsiung Tu
George Washington University


Social presence is a critical influence on learners’ online social interaction in an online learning environment via computer-mediated communication (CMC) systems. This study examines how three CMC systems, e-mail, bulletin board, and real-time discussion, influence the level of online social presence and privacy. Mixed methods were applied to examine the relationships of three CMC systems with social presence and privacy. The results indicate (a) E-mail is perceived to possess the highest level of social presence, followed by the real-time discussion and bulletin board; (b) one-to-one e-mail was perceived to have a higher level of privacy while one-to-many was perceived less privacy; and (c) in addition to the attributes of CMC systems, learners’ perceptions of CMC systems impacted level of privacy as well. This study suggested that the format of CMC systems, e-mail and real-time discussion should be examined in two different formats: one-to-one e-mail, one-to-many e-mail, one-to-one real-time discussion, and many-to-many real-time discussion.

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