The Webfolio Project being trialed at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia, calls upon tertiary educators and students to challenge traditional boundaries in preservice teacher education. Currently, teacher education is delivered through disparate subject offerings and limited time spent in practicum schools. The Webfolio project trials alternative platforms and approaches to teaching and learning. Webfolio is an online learning environment that incorporates both real people and virtual web resources. Participants explore topics of professional significance through a range of media, such as: work samples; audiotaped conversations; links to other websites; real time professional opinions from practicing teachers, principals, social workers and welfare agents; and online discussion with participants, including student teachers, teachers and university lecturers. The approach taken is an inquiry one, which focuses on case study as an entry point; challenging participants to think substantively as they research and explore topics of professional significance to solve the problems presented in the case studies. Case studies are based on authentic classroom situations; ones that student teachers may never encounter during their practicums. It therefore requires them to suspend their disbelief (Herrington, Oliver and Reeves, 2003) and immerse themselves in the professional world of teaching into which they are moving. There are no single, correct solutions; rather learners are encouraged to reflect, imagine and develop multiple and often non-traditional solutions. This exploration is supported within a learning community, where participants are positioned as colearners, scaffolding each other’s learning while building links to the professional world. These links may assist in bridging the gap that some neophyte teachers feel when beginning their professional teaching careers. In this format, learning is engaging and lifelong; imaginative thinking is encouraged, and boundaries that have separated teacher education from “real life” classroom teaching may become blurred.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/reesasorin/9/