Education professor James OlooEducation professor James Oloo has worked to ensure that teacher candidates gain practicum experience even in a pandemic.

Education professor meeting challenges of online instruction

James Oloo joined the University of Windsor last summer as an assistant professor in the Faculty of Education.

He taught three classes during the Fall 2020 semester, including two parts of the “Foundations of Practice” and “Practicum Advising.”

His foundations courses focus on law and ethics within teaching. Dr. Oloo started by sharing news articles about teachers in trouble because of allegations of unethical or illegal acts — prosecuted in a court of law or disciplined by the Ontario College of Teachers. It is important that teacher candidates are aware that these cases do occur, he emphasizes.

The online course focuses on real-life instances where law and ethics issues have arisen in the school setting.

Much of the class is discussion-based as guided by the text, A Canadian Case Book for Law and Ethics in Teaching. It allows students to put forward their experiences of ethics in their own classrooms as students or teachers, as well as their views on the topics being addressed.

This is done through breakout rooms in Blackboard Collaborate, and while Oloo says it is mostly successful, he regrets the limited interaction with the instructor and peers and the technical challenges, such as maintaining an internet connection.

Oloo’s practicum advising course has required far more adaptation.

Normally, the class has two components: advisory group instruction and field experience. The latter involves placement of teacher candidates in Windsor-Essex Area schools for a five-week internship experience.

While some in-classroom placements are still possible, the options are limited by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Faculty of Education, in consultation with the Ontario College of Teachers, ensured that all the teacher candidates had practicum placement experience that will count towards their teacher certification.

—Bridget Heuvel

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