The last decades there has been an increasing interest in teachers’ continuing professional development as it has been perceived fundamental in educational reform, increasing teacher quality and enhancing student learning. Nevertheless, teachers’ professional development activities are often being characterized as ineffective in achieving their learning aims and improve teaching for they adopt a technical approach to course development and they focus on transmitting predefined knowledge. To address this problem a number of scholars have been advocating for pedagogies that emphasise the value of teacher research, encourage teachers to engage in critical reflection about their practices, and empower them to consume as well as produce research.
Online forms of education have greatly evolved the last decades due to both the great advancement of technologies utilized and the growth of pedagogical theories regarding online education. Although nowadays online education is far from being described as “no more than a hodgepodge of ideas and practices taken from traditional classroom settings and imposed on learners who just happen to be separated physically from an instructor” (Mclsaac & Gunawardena, 1996; para.1), the myth that classroom-based courses can be simply copied to online learning still persists and there is anecdotal evidence that it is quite widespread among academic instructors. Additionally, although the potential of Web 2.0 technologies to support a range of pedagogical approaches has been reported, there are several challenges that hinder greater adoption of Web 2.0 tools by teachers who conduct online courses.
Research-based teacher education (RBTE) is an approach that makes inquiry about teaching a priority and as such has the potential to effectively prepare teachers who are able to address the challenges of teaching in the 21st century. It differs from other teacher education paradigms in that it views the curriculum of teacher education as socially constructed rather than predetermined and in that it questions the current institutional contexts that teachers are required to work rather than accepting them as given. RBTE has been mainly employed in face-to-face delivery, with only few studies showcasing how it has been implemented in online contexts. Moreover, the majority of these studies focus on the educational design of the program, while they do not try to explain the processes that student-teachers should follow to conduct inquiry in their own settings.
The overarching aim of my PhD study is to design a framework that explains the processes that teacher-students should follow to conduct inquiry in their own context through their participation in an online RBTE program. Furthermore, it aims to discuss the use of Web 2.0 tools for facilitating these processes and to evaluate the effectiveness of the framework by assessing how student-teachers perceive changes in their teacher identity after participation in the program.