Breaking barriers : exploring digital practices of teacher educators in Nepal

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This thesis presents a qualitative case study of digital practices of teacher educators at two Nepalese universities. In doing this, the study examined factors that facilitated or inhibited teacher educators’ technology use, how they gained the digital competencies required to use technologies and how such learning supported their teaching. The study, which was conducted between the end of 2016 and mid 2017, is primarily informed by semi-structured interview data collected with 25 teacher educators teaching BEd and MEd courses. Additional data were collected using focus group discussions with four groups of pre-service teachers and interviews with three policymakers. To uncover the digital practices of teacher educators, Activity Theory was used as an analytical framework. The study used the conceptual tools that Activity Theory offers heuristically to anchor the discussions and drew on the literature on teacher educators’ digital competencies, professional learning and use of technologies for analysis. The analysis of the data revealed that even when there were elements at the institutional or broader level that were not supportive of technology use, teacher educators sought learning opportunities inside and outside the teacher education institutes and engaged in those to enhance their digital competencies. Through the development of their digital competencies, teacher educators were able to implement the use of digital tools into their practice. Whilst the in-class use of digital technologies was not sophisticated, teacher educators used technologies outside the classroom to keep the classroom discussion ongoing and to engage students in learning activities. The findings of this study demonstrate that significant transformations occurred in their pedagogical practices. The significance of this study is that it contributes to an understanding of teacher educators’ digital practices - why teacher educators use technologies; how they enhance their digital competencies; how their learning supports technology use in their curricular practices; and, what changes those practices can bring. Other areas to which this study contributes are the theoretical implications of using Activity Theory to study digital practices and policy implications concerning technology use in teacher education.
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