Online Student Teaching Practicums During COVID-19: A Successful Case in the UAE
The COVID-19 outbreak necessitated a sudden shift to online teaching and learning worldwide in early 2020. This impacted the preservice teachers’ (PTs) practicums in schools—a cornerstone of Bachelor of Education programs. The teaching practicum (TP) enables PTs to apply their theoretical learning practically. We narrate the shift to e-practicum at a higher education institute in the UAE; document the challenges faced, opportunities gained, and guidelines designed for the implementation; and recognize the vital role of the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the national federal higher education institutions in facilitating online teacher education. We describe the registration of PTs on the MoE’s online teaching and learning platform (MS Teams) and the measures that facilitated the e-practicum. The study employs a case study approach to document analysis of email correspondence and interview scripts to provide insights from the preservice and mentor school teachers. Content and thematic analyses indicate that despite the resistance and unpreparedness of PTs toward this transition—the use of unfamiliar technology—they benefitted from the e-practicum and developed strategies to allay fears, keep students on task, and overcome technical challenges with the support of their mentors. We conclude with the lessons learned and recommendations for post-pandemic TP design.
E-learning, Reflection on practice, E-practicum, Preservice teachers, Mentor school teachers
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