Challenges and Learning Opportunities: Pre-service Teachers’ Perceptions of integrating a Digital Story Project into a Literacy Course
Mohammed V University, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Abstract: Technology is not only seen as a key component in supporting education but also plays a major role in developing the 21st century skills such as problem solving and team work (Sweeney-Burt, 2014 ; Dede, 2009; ISTE, 2015). Consequently, teachers need to ensure that their students are exposed to technology in order to prepare them for the 21st century society that is increasingly heavily based on technology and knowledge (Ahmed, 2012; UNESCO, 2014). This demand has put pressure on teacher training programs to support and train pre-service as well as in-service teachers to be digitally effective practitioners and transform their classrooms into a more digital-oriented environment. Efe (2011) observed that teacher training programs play a fundamental role in the development of future teachers’ knowledge and skills to effectively integrate technology into educational contexts. In addition, teachers need to develop awareness of technology, its value and the educational purposes it serves. In other words, teachers are expected to be emotionally, cognitively and educationally well-prepared to adopt the use of the digital tools into their teaching (Kaufman, 2018; Singh & Chan, 2014; Copriady, 2014). Beside the development of digital competencies, technology integration in teaching can potentially enhance students’ learning experience. It is worth-mentioning within this context that despite the positive outcomes, the integration of technology in teaching can be challenging (Hew & Brush 2007). In line with this emphasis on the integration of digital technology in educational contexts, a digital story project was introduced into a Language Literacy course taught at a teacher training institution in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This paper presents the preliminary results of the study that sought to investigate pre-service teachers’ perceptions of the challenges and learning opportunities related to the integration of the digital story design project into the English Literacy course. The preliminary results are based on a survey delivered to undergraduate students enrolled in the Bachelor of Education program offered at a Higher Education institution. The overall results show positive outcomes in relation to the learning opportunities experienced at the integration stage of the digital story project. Students did not seem to have faced major challenges when developing their digital stories. One of the limitations of this research study, however, is the method of data collection. Quantitative analysis of data may highlight the most prominent findings, but for better understanding of the learning opportunities and challenges encountered by the pre-service teachers during the designing stage of the digital story, future work will involve qualitative methods for an in-depth analysis of the focus group and individual interviews.
Keywords: technology, teacher training, digital story, skills, pre-service teachers.