Connecting Across Borders: Exploring the potential of handheld technologies to connect student teachers overseas
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Aims of project To diversify the opportunities for students to learn from international experiences; To strengthen links between colleagues and students working in overseas partner institutions through a collaborative small scale project; To create student-generated resources for use on BA Early Childhood Studies/BEd Early Childhood Studies/PGCEEY that encapsulate an aspect of Early Years practice or provision in a particular context, e.g. Plymouth, Plzen (CZ), through the use of digital resources such as video diaries and digital narratives; To compare students’ understanding of international perspectives as they access the materials, through feedback questionnaires, written reflections; To rigorously evaluate the resources, identifying areas of strength and areas for development. Background to project School of Education students have opportunities to participate in a number of international experiences including a 1 week study tour of The Gambia, 2 week kindergarten placements in Germany and the Czech Republic, and teaching practices in Finland, USA and Denmark. These experiences have been shown to have a significant positive impact on the personal and professional development of this small number of participants, enhancing students’ awareness of globalisation issues and cultural diversity. However, the majority of students are excluded due to family commitments or financial constraints. At present there are occasionally informal opportunities for the rest of the student body to access this learning vicariously, usually through discussion in sessions on some modules. Research (e.g. Wheeler, 2009a; Hramiak, 2009; Lee, 2009; Hui-Chun et al, 2009) clearly showed the potential of using video diaries and blogs to enhance the quality of reflection upon experiences (Qian & Scott, 2007), as well as to disseminate and share the experiences of a small number of students with a wider range of people (Wheeler, 2009b).
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