Danaher, Patrick Alan (2006) The social control–social capital debate about distance and online teacher education: critical reflections on two courses at the University of Southern Queensland, Australia. Journal of Open Learning and Teacher Education, 1 (3). pp. 81-93. ISSN 1596-6348
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[Abstract]: One among several crucial conceptual lenses that should be deployed in interrogating the effectiveness of an open learning approach to teacher education is the social control–social capital debate. This debate centres on whether and how such an approach bends the thinking of the individual to the institutional or systemic view on the one hand and/or enables that individual to acquire capital that can be expended to the benefit of students and other stakeholders on the other. This paper reflects critically on two distance and online teacher education courses (co-)developed and (co-)taught by the author at the University of Southern Queensland in Australia. One course is a graduate, pre-service, teacher education course offered for the first time in 2006. The other course is a postgraduate, in-service, teacher education course offered for several years but significantly revised in late 2005. The focus and scope of the two courses differ considerably, yet in combination they constitute a worthwhile site for an analysis of their intentions and perceived effects as teacher education courses provided by means of open learning. The author argues that, despite sustained efforts being directed at promoting students’ social capital and despite some students demonstrating such capital through their critical engagement with each course, institutional and systemic imperatives continue to exercise a constraining impact that for some students might be experienced as social control. There are no easy solutions to this situation, which mirrors the uneasy tension between social control and social capital in formal educational provision.
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