Teleapprenticeship Gives Students Chance To Hone Skills Using Internet

March 13, 1997

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Take a new technology, pair it with a very old idea, and you can fundamentally change the nature of learning and teaching, a University of Illinois professor says.

The new technology is the Internet. The old idea is the apprenticeship. The fundamental change comes from using the technology to reintegrate schooling with work, says James Levin, a professor of educational psychology. It's called a "teleapprenticeship," and it's intended -- like a traditional apprenticeship -- to give students the opportunity to "observe, model and master" some of the skills of their profession in the context of their education. The main difference is that the apprenticeship is conducted over a computer network instead of in person, and input can come from more than one person.

With a grant from the National Science Foundation, Levin and Michael Waugh, a professor of curriculum and instruction, led a four-year study of teleapprenticeships in teacher education. What they and their colleagues helped to develop were models for teaching and learning that have benefits both on and off campus. Through a new Office of Educational Technology in the College of Education, some of these new models likely will be incorporated into the teacher-education curriculum.

Among the models researched by Levin and his colleagues was one that used education majors as mediators in an "ask the experts" electronic service for elementary and high school classrooms. Under this model, freshman and sophomore education students in an introductory biology course were assigned as teleapprentices to specific school classrooms with network connections. Through e-mail and network conferencing, they were called on to answer questions about the science studied by their assigned classes.

Everyone appeared to benefit from the arrangement, Levin said. The elementary and high school students and teachers got answers they needed. The education majors discovered what kind of questions they would be asked someday, and learned more about science and university resources through the process of finding answers. "In many cases, their responses were much more useful than if we'd had the experts answering the questions," Levin said, because the gap in expertise was not as wide.

Professors teaching these education students found them more motivated because they saw the future relevance for what they were learning, Levin said. And the system was more sustainable than one in which true experts -- likely overwhelmed by the number -- would answer all the questions.

The researchers found that "an apprenticeship only works when it's a benefit to all the people involved," Levin said. Otherwise, it becomes difficult to sustain. The most successful methods, like the teleapprenticeship ask-the-experts system, provide a service beyond the campus while also serving education. In another example, he noted how a professor posted on a Web site the best lesson plans created and tested by students as an assignment. By doing so, he gave them added motivation, while providing a quality resource accessed thousands of times each month by people around the world.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Related Learning Articles from Brightsurf:

Learning the language of sugars
We're told not to eat too much sugar, but in reality, all of our cells are covered in sugar molecules called glycans.

When learning on your own is not enough
We make decisions based on not only our own learning experience, but also learning from others.

Learning more about particle collisions with machine learning
A team of Argonne scientists has devised a machine learning algorithm that calculates, with low computational time, how the ATLAS detector in the Large Hadron Collider would respond to the ten times more data expected with a planned upgrade in 2027.

Getting kids moving, and learning
Children are set to move more, improve their skills, and come up with their own creative tennis games with the launch of HomeCourtTennis, a new initiative to assist teachers and coaches with keeping kids active while at home.

How expectations influence learning
During learning, the brain is a prediction engine that continually makes theories about our environment and accurately registers whether an assumption is true or not.

Technology in higher education: learning with it instead of from it
Technology has shifted the way that professors teach students in higher education.

Learning is optimized when we fail 15% of the time
If you're always scoring 100%, you're probably not learning anything new.

School spending cuts triggered by great recession linked to sizable learning losses for learning losses for students in hardest hit areas
Substantial school spending cuts triggered by the Great Recession were associated with sizable losses in academic achievement for students living in counties most affected by the economic downturn, according to a new study published today in AERA Open, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association.

Lessons in learning
A new Harvard study shows that, though students felt like they learned more from traditional lectures, they actually learned more when taking part in active learning classrooms.

Learning to look
A team led by JGI scientists has overhauled the perception of inovirus diversity.

Read More: Learning News and Learning Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to