Designing quality materials for teacher education
I also read Norton’s (2000) longitudinal case study of immigrant women learning English in Canada in which she argues that it is important to consider the ‘investment’ of these women in language learning: … when language learners speak, they are not only exchanging information with target language speakers, but they are constantly organizing and reorganizing a sense of who they are and how they relate to the social world. Thus an investment in a target language is also an investment in a learner’s own identity, an identity which is constantly changing across time and space ( Norton, 2000: 10-11). // In reviewing a range of international and local publications on designing and evaluating distance learning materials (e.g. Evans, 1994; Lockwood, 1992, 1994, 1995; Mills and Tait, 1996; Race, 1989, 1992; Rowntree, 1990, SAIDE, 2002; Commonwealth of Learning, 2003; NADEOSA, 2005) I found helpful guidelines for some aspects of mediating knowledge and skills on the page or screen, but little or no reference to issues of identity and investment. None of these authors or organizations really address what I consider to be one of the key questions for designers and evaluators of materials for teacher education: What subject positions are constituted for learner-teachers (as students and as future teachers) or for teacher-learners (as professionals in the classroom and as students) when knowledge is mediated in particular ways on the page or screen? // To respond to this question I have drawn on the extensive literatures on pedagogy, teacher education, mediation, subjectivity, systemic functional linguistics and social semiotics to devise a framework for what I term critical pedagogic analysis of distance learning materials for teacher education. In this paper I outline elements of this framework and illustrate (very briefly) how I have used it to analyze some South African teacher education materials. These are Learners and Learning (designed for a national readership of preservice and in-service, primary and secondary school teachers); Language in Learning & Teaching (LILT) (designed for a national readership of primary and secondary school inservice teachers); Language Literacy and Communication, Imithamo 1-6 (designed for inservice primary school teachers in the Eastern Cape province ). All have received either an award or commendation for excellence in distance education materials design.
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