Students in the Teacher Education program at the University of Ottawa will be expected, for the first time this fall, to create a professional website that documents their development as teachers. Faculty members have piloted this project over the past couple of years and in the spring of 2017, we gathered some survey data from graduating students who created professional digital websites in courses and as part of cohort-based initiatives that has helped us to develop a guiding framework for the launch of this project program-wide. Here are some key take-aways from that survey.
- Students tended to think of their digital hubs as an online CV rather than a digital identity text, or as a space for developing new understandings of themselves as teachers through curation, reflection and revision.
- Students wanted more explicit direction from the program about what to include — at least at first.
- Students who created a website did it because they had to as part of a course or because the program was expecting it of them in some way.
- Students told us that, at first, they did not have the technical skill set required for the development of a professional digital hub. Many said they struggled to acquire these skills as they were also learning how to teach.
- Students told us that they needed more support around issues of identity management, privacy and how to ethically and responsibly share their work and their students’ work on the open Internet.
Students entering our program this year will learn, at Orientation, about the Hub, its purpose, and the rationale driving our programmatic choice to integrate it as part of their professional preparation program. Broadly, we see the Digital Hub as one way for teacher candidates to develop foundational professional digital literacies skills while also curating a set of documents that reflect their emerging skills, values and competencies as teachers and teacher researchers.
Information about the Digital Hub initiative can be found at http://sites.google.com/site/edtechuo
This site is for students, but also for Faculty members looking for tips, strategies and resources to support their students’ emergence as digitally literate professionals.