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In this paper/presentation, faculty members from the Faculty of Education at UOIT share their experiences and challenges of redesigning a teacher education program, against the backdrop of provincial funding cuts and a mandatory reduction of student enrolment in all Faculties of Education, as Ontario moves from a 10-month consecutive Education program to a required 2-year BEd program. In June, 2013, the Ministry of Education, Ontario announced that effective September, 2015, universities offering teacher certification would be required to double the length of their programs, moving from two semesters to four semesters, and the length of the practicum will change to a minimum of 80 days of practice teaching. In addition, the number of teacher education spaces funded by the province will be reduced by half. This announcement provided an opportunity for faculty to reimagine teacher education in this new context and thus began the journey that culminated with significant modifications to our existing program, including: 1) An Increased range of delivery methods for courses: Although our current program, which is face-to-face with the support of an online Learning Management System (LMS), emphasizes the importance of the integration of technology and pedagogy, the new program is specifically designed to introduce future teachers to learning in the online setting with some blended courses, and with electives and Semester 3 courses offered fully online; 2) A shift in focus for some courses which were previously offered, such as additions to present courses to include new literacies and new technologies and a movement toward individualized, personal education for all students; 3) An extension of some existing program elements, such as a longer practicum (from 60 to 80 days) and the extension of a core teaching methods course into the second year of the program; 4) Consolidation of present courses to integrated courses, such as an integration of Science, Technology and Mathematics into three STEM courses, one of which focuses on computational thinking and the integration of Language Arts and digital technologies to create a course focused on digital literacies; 5) The introduction of additional new required courses, such as Mental Health (which was previously an elective course), Pedagogy of the Land (which explores issues of Indigenous ways of knowing), and a self-directed inquiry course that supports an inquiry-based approach to learning; and, 6) A movement away from a laptop program in which all students use the same hardware to a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) model that reflects the growing trend of school districts in Ontario also moving in this direction. The new program models key elements of education at the edge of innovation so that graduates will be leaders of technology in their schools and in their school boards, and in other workplace options, such as professional development, adult education, and training.
Hughes, J., Laffier, J., Mamol, A., Morrison, L. & Petrarca, D. (2015). Re-imagining Pre-service Teacher Education in Ontario, Canada: a Journey in the Making. Higher Education in Transformation Conference, Dublin, Ireland, 2015, pp.436-446.