G'aim'ing to be a Rural Teacher?
Improving Pre-service Teachers' Learning Experiences in an Online Rural and Remote Teacher Preparation Course
Keywords:teacher education, rural and remote teaching, rural education, gamification, online pedagogy
Many Australian teachers will spend part of their careers working in small rural schools and communities, yet specific preparation for rural and remote teaching contexts during pre-service teacher education remains limited. While government reports recommend the use of innovative and engaging approaches to enhance pre-service teachers' classroom readiness, the use of such approaches to the contextualised preparation of rural and remote teachers has not been specifically addressed.
In a teacher education program, an innovative place-based pedagogy has been utilised to redesign an online rural education course. A gamified, case-based approach was applied to increase student engagement and motivation. Preservice teachers are immersed in an online, simulated rural context, where they navigate the experience of appointment to a rural school. This paper describes the rationale for the course redevelopment and outlines the design process. Student course feedback pre- and post-development was analysed to evaluate the outcomes achieved from the course redevelopment. The findings indicate that student engagement rose after the redevelopment, and critical reflection from the course team indicated that students were more effectively able to connect with course themes and project themselves into the position of a beginning teacher in a rural or remote location. While the development of the course is a work in progress, the initial gamification work has enabled preservice teachers to improve their classroom and community readiness for appointment to rural and remote schools, while exposing them to modelling of effective and contemporary use of technology and pedagogy which can be applied to their future classroom contexts.
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