CONNECTION WITH THE CDU – 2

My first association with our university was in the late 1980’s when I was involved as a part-time lecturer with the Faculty of Education.

In my first post on this subject and with further elaboration on my blog I painted a word picture of how teaching-learning methodologies worked at that stage.

Fast forward to 2011, when I again became connected with the Charles Darwin University, a role that continued after I retired in 2012 and went all the way through to 2016. During that time I was connected as a lecturer, tutor and a marker with various courses within the Faculty of Education.

There were now marked differences in organisational methodology that had not been in place in earlier years. Those changes came about because of the advance of technology.

The most major of these was online learning, which provided students undertaking teacher education with the opportunity to work in isolation and from home wherever that might be. Students connected from all around Australia with online learning programs.

Gone were lectures and group tutorials for these students. They were replaced with sessions arranged by lecturers to connect online with students, either single or collectively in group discussions.

What a poor alternative this proved to be. And it remains an inferior methodology to this day. There is a significant breakdown between the theory and practice of online learning.

While students are supposed to connect for one on one or group online discussions, they often don’t. Some will give legitimate reasons for not being able to connect while others simply ignore the sessions.

The group dynamic so important for teachers in training as part of their preparation (because of the sharing of ideas and the strength of that discourse) has gone.

For those undertaking unit study, courses (until at least 2016 at least) could be satisfied by students enrolling, completing one or two assignments, and then claiming that unit has been satisfied.

On top of this, practice teaching rounds were outsourced to schools with a remote connection to the university. This made for indirect contact between university lecturers and students in the field.

Preservice teachers in training still have the option of undertaking the units on campus whilst others within the group prefer the online methodology. My experience was that those attending lectures were often absent, again with minimal explanation. But when they completed their assignments and handed them in, they were deemed to have completed units if they passed those assignments.

So teacher education moved from obligation on the part of students, to them undertaking units which to a large extent where “optional” with very minimal effort being required on the part of students.

Of course, some of those students have work commitments to justify why they weren’t able to fulfil other than minimal study expectations but that is hardly worthy of people training to be part of the greatest of all professions.

In my opinion, casualisation of teacher training has been a very detrimental development. It paints the picture of a university primarily interested in what students pay to undertake courses of study, and very little else.

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