Tutor perspectives on the transition to distance delivery in teacher education : a case study : a research project.
Type of content
Delivery of programmes by distance education involving the use of modem telecommunication technology has been described as increasing the flexibility and the capacity of the tertiary institutions to meet student needs more precisely and conveniently. Capper, Fitzgerald, Weldon & Wilson (2000) believe this will lead to a "significant change over the next 20 years resulting in complete reconstruction of the notion of what a 'teacher' is" (p.l0). Many of the decisions in introducing a new course are made in the interests of students or the educational institution but it is the teachers who play the critical role in implementing the changes and the success or failure often rests upon what they think and do. This research project was undertaken to look at the perspectives of a group of teachers as they struggled to understand and negotiate their part in implementing a new strategy for delivering course content. The planned introduction of a distance course at the college of education where I am employed provided an opportunity for investigation. A phenomenological model was used, as the intention was to find out about the participants' feelings, behaviours, or attitudes (the insider's view). A research paradigm that enabled the discovery of interrelationships between people was therefore necessary. A case study using individual semistructured interviews was used to gather the initial data and find emerging themes. The data was triangulated through written review and a group interview. This research identified one of the fundamental concerns of teachers, and perhaps the biggest barrier to introducing change, as the teacher's present workload. Without time and space to learn about the technologies and to reflect on implications for pedagogy, teachers will be unable to deal with the complexities of change. Educational institutions introducing major changes need to remember that it is the teachers who will be responsible for implementing the changes.