Insights into Engineering Education Teaching Practice in Slovenian Primary Schools during the Covid-19 Pandemic: Distance Learning Model
When the Covid-19 pandemic started in March 2020, the educational process had to be redesigned to meet current needs. At the Faculty of Education of the University of Ljubljana, pre-service engineering and technology teachers (3rd and 4th years of undergraduate two-subject teachers’ study programme) are obliged to complete a teaching practice in educational institutions and submit a teaching practice diary. Due to the closure of primary schools, the teaching practice was transformed to distance/online practice. This empirical study examines a recently developed intuitive model for distance learning, which took place during the teaching practice. Teaching practice diaries served as an instrument for gathering data. The sample size encompasses 56 lesson plan activities for the compulsory primary school Design and Technology subject for students aged 12–15 years at 15 primary schools in different parts of Slovenia carried out during online teaching practice by 11 pre-service technology teachers in the 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 academic years. The research methodology is focused on lesson-type determination and model elements analysis in lesson plan making and implementation activity. Distance learning model elements are evaluated with regard to online/offline learning tools from e-learning platforms to engineering education field-specific tools (e.g., technical drawings and electric circuits). Online teaching practice was as new for pre-service technology teachers and teacher-mentors as online learning was new for students. The advantages and disadvantages are highlighted. Furthermore, the distance learning model from the first Covid-19 wave teaching practice was adapted to challenge the second Covid-19 wave. The pandemic has enabled the rise of blended learning, which has been gaining focus in secondary and higher education levels in recent years; however, it encountered obstacles when entering the primary school domain. How to encompass blended learning into the evolved distance learning model will be shown.
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