Shared Photonarratives in an Online Master’s Course: Reflection, Context and Community

June 1, 2013

Distance education has potential to reach teachers from diverse areas, but the challenges of building community and promoting reflection in these settings can be considerable. In this study, photonarratives were used as an assignment in a distance education course to promote reflection on science teaching. Twenty science teachers (half from rural areas) produced photonarratives that included photos and descriptions of helping and hindering factors related to their science teaching. Analysis of the photonarratives showed that two primary categories of factors were both helpful and hindering and included geographic factors (proximity to a community college or facilities) and available technologies (such as probeware or document cameras). A third category, colleagues, came across as a theme among the helping factors alone. The photonarratives served as a tool to empower the teachers by giving them the control to identify and document issues related to their unique science teaching context while also promoting insight into shared issues across the group. The power of photos embedded in personal narratives as a tool for teacher reflection and developing community is discussed.

Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education

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