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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Repost from the AECT BlogTrack - The Role of the Mediating Teacher

Moving into the month of June in this series - not sure what number I am up to in the reposts but we are moving along. June and July were active months for my involvement in the AECT BlogTrack, so we'll have a lot to post during the holiday season.

This is the first of seven different research studies that I have conducted with the Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation. Over the next four weeks (basically for the month of June), I’ll be posted two entries a week that describe these seven studies. Your thoughts and ideas about what I have done, what I found, or where I could go from here are all welcome.

In their calls for the creation of the CDLI, Sparkes and Williams (2000) recommended the use of a school-based classroom teacher (a mediating or m-teacher) whose job it was to “ensure appropriate interaction” between the students and their “e-teacher” (p. 79). More specifically, this m-teacher was responsible for all non-technical, non-instructional aspects of distance education in their own school. This study considered the role of the m-teacher in the CDLI by examining how teachers in this role in one school district felt about the position after the first year. This study was conducted using two surveys, one given to the m-teacher at the mid-point of the year and one given to them at the end of the year.

During the 2001-02 school year the m-teachers expressed that they had quite a burden placed upon them due to the wide range of duties and time commitment associated with these new responsibilities. In addition to the time associated with the position, in many cases the mediating teachers responsibilities did include technical and instruction aspects. As has been well known, but rarely documented, in the previous audiographics distance education system the success of distance education in the province has been in large part due to the assistance provided by teachers in our rural schools above and beyond their contractual obligations to the school or the school district. It appears, at least in the first year of this new model for distance education, that this aspect of distance education (i.e., teachers providing additional time and performing voluntary duties) did not change. It should be noted, however, that after the first year of operation the CDLI changed the structure of the mediating role to include multiple teachers who formed an m-team. While the workload has probably remained constant or even increased, with additional teachers and administrators involved in this role the extra work has been spread out over more people. (For more information, see Barbour & Mulcahy, 2004; Mulcahy, 2002.)

Selected Bibliography

Barbour, M., & Mulcahy, D. (2004). The role of mediating teachers in Newfoundland’s new model of distance education. The Morning Watch, 32(1-2). Retrieved on February 3, 2004 from http://www.mun.ca/educ/faculty/mwatch/win05/barbourmulcahy.htm

Mulcahy, D. (2002). Re-conceptualizing Distance Education Implications for the Rural Schools of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Morning Watch, 30(1-2). Retrieved December 16, 2003, from http://www.mun.ca/educ/faculty/mwatch/fall02/Mulcahy.htm

Sparkes, R. & Williams, L. (2000). Supporting learning: Ministerial panel on educational delivery in the classroom. St. John’s, NL: Queen’s Printing for Newfoundland and Labrador.

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