Professional Development for Prospective English Teachers through Second Life


İNAL D. , AKCAN S.

EUROCALL 2015, Padova, Italy, 26 - 29 August 2015, pp.1

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: Padova
  • Country: Italy
  • Page Numbers: pp.1

Abstract

Professional development may be achieved in various ways, such as co-teaching, mentoring and reflective discussions on student work, on assessment, or on instructional design decisions which take place in classrooms. It may also happen through personal efforts, by conducting action research, or by using online professional development tools (Barab, MaKinster, & Moore, 2001). This study aims to examine the nature of engagement and interaction patterns of prospective English teachers in professional development events in Second Life at the practicum course which is offered by the Departments of Foreign Language Education of both Boğaziçi University and Istanbul University, Istanbul.

The practicum course is a required course offered in a blended-learning environment in which face-to-face lessons are supported by an online component. Thirty prospective English teachers in one university setting engage in professional development activities (e.g. inviting guest speakers, debates) on second life during the practicum course. Within a case study approach, data collection involves a record of trainees’ participations on second life. Data from content analysis is supported by trainees’ comments in journal entries that are kept in their blogs. A further step involves the other group of teacher trainees’ response and feedback to the mentioned professional development activities, which is analyzed with reference to peer interaction. The theory of social presence (Kehrwald 2010) constitutes the theoretical framework for analysis.

Learning in virtual world environments such as Second Life support rich social interaction (Deutschmann & Panichi, 2009; Sadler, 2008). The discussion focuses on how the design of the professional development activities organized within the course encourage professional and social interaction among the teacher candidates in order to promote their knowledge about teaching and learning, and encourage peer interaction. In addition, this study makes suggestions about how to use the second life for the professional development of teacher candidates.