Archive article #00–06

Pre-service Teachers’ Experiences using Hypermedia
and Video to Learn about Literacy Instruction

Joan E. Hughes, University of Minnesota
Becky Wai-Ling Packard, Mount Holyoke College &
P. David Pearson, Michigan State University

Theoretical Underpinnings of Our Work
Unique Strengths of Hypermedia
Rationale for the Current Study
Results and Discussion
Why Hypermedia?
Educational Importance, Lingering Issues, and Implications

(A version of this article will be published in the Journal of Literacy Research 32(4).)

Recently, the term "ill-structured" has been coined by Spiro and his colleagues (Feltovich, Coulson, Spiro, and Dawson-Saunders, 1992; Jones and Spiro, 1992; Spiro and Jehng, 1990) to describe work in disciplines that require the application of conceptually complex knowledge to diverse and unpredictable situations. Thus far, they have studied medicine, history, film criticism, and military strategy as examples of ill-structured disciplines. We believe that teaching qualifies as an equally ill-structured domain of human activity. We often liken teachers’ work to "thinking on their feet." Daily teaching brings with it many unknowns. Teachers are constantly taking account of signs in the classroom that might help them decide upon their next move, revise a current strategy, or rethink long-range planning. They continually compile and interpret their students’ body language, facial expressions, questions, accomplishments, and needs, their own ability in the content and method of instruction, and their knowledge of theories of learning into a complex analytical web that informs both immediate and long-range decision-making.

As teacher educators in the field of literacy, we prepare pre-service teachers to teach reading and writing through daily engagement in the complex analyses just described. Preparation programs are grounded in three areas: general education, subject matter concentrations, and pedagogical study (Lanier & Little, 1986). Students learn about pedagogy in three distinct situations: in the college classroom where they interact with professors, peers, and texts, through observation opportunities in schools, and through an internship or practicum with a collaborating teacher (CT). Balancing and coordinating student learning through coursework, observation, and internship is a challenge.

The challenge is exacerbated by the predispositions of the preservice teachers we serve. They often express reservations about their early coursework in pedagogical foundations and cognitive theory primarily because its delivery through articles, books, and lectures is viewed as disconnected from real practice. Students arrive in preservice programs with many diverse and deeply held beliefs about teachers and schooling, and themselves (Lortie, 1975; Evertson, 1990) and look to student teaching or internship as the only learning experience that will prepare them to teach. Preservice teachers think that they need to see models of this teaching in action and practice teaching early in their education, as Richardson (1996) summarizes:

Entering students hold strong images of teachers, both negative and positive, and these images strongly influence how they approach their teacher education program (Britzman, 1991; Calderhead & Robson, 1991). These students are, by and large, highly confident of their own abilities as teachers (Book & Freeman, 1986); in fact, Weinstein (1988, 1989) suggested that they are "unrealistically optimistic." They believe that there is not much they can learn in preservice teacher education except during their student teaching experiences (Book, Byers, & Freeman, 1983), and they hold strong beliefs that learning to teach can only be accomplished through experience (Richardson-Koehler, 1988). (p. 108)

If we honor students’ anxiety and allow them to experience teaching early in their preservice education, we run the risk that students will fail to encounter different theoretical perspectives on teaching and learning. Instead, they rely instead on long-held beliefs, derived from their apprenticeships of observation as students (Lortie, 1975), to shape their views and experiences in teaching.

There are several obstacles to accomplishing educative observation and participation opportunities in teacher preparation programs. Some (Feiman-Nemser and Buchman, 1986; Lanier and Little, 1986) argue that early in their careers, students do not possess tools to transform observations and practice into instances of deep reflection and action. The argument here is that that foundational coursework provides students with tools to help them reflect deeply about the practice they observe and eventually enact. However, even if they do gain these theoretical tools, preservice teachers may end up in sites in which they never get a chance to observe the subject matter of interest (e.g., Dunkin, Precians, and Nettle, 1993). Even if they do manage to observe the target subject matter, they may observe teaching examples that do not align with the pedagogical and theoretical focus of the university preparation program (Goodman and Fish, 1997; Zeichner and Liston, 1987).

What is needed in teacher preparation programs is a context in which the students can witness, analyze, and critique the theoretical perspectives learned in the college classroom as they are illustrated in rich portrayals of the complexity (and ill-structuredness) of classroom practice, preferably with the guidance of a knowledgeable instructor. We have developed a hypermedia learning environment, Reading Classroom Explorer (RCE), in the hope that it might serve as one easily accessible and readily analyzable resource for meeting the need for rich classroom cases of exemplary teaching. We believe that RCE has this potential because it allows students to study, at their own pace and depth of analysis, many different approaches to excellent teaching and, in the process, might also help students grapple with the ill-structured nature of teaching before they enter the classroom.

Theoretical Underpinnings of Our Work
Our work is grounded in two fundamental concepts: (a) learning in complex, ill-structured domains requires students to navigate (criss-cross, to use Spiro’s Wittgensteinian metaphor) the domain from multiple and diverse perspectives; and (b) rich cases from a domain provide the best context and material for helping students acquire competence in these complex domains.

Learning in ill-structured domains
According to Spiro and his colleagues (e.g., Jones & Spiro, 1992), it is in the space that lies between the blithe simplicity of initial learning (where students ignore the complexities) and the serene acceptance and appreciation of complexity that comes with true expertise that learning to cope with ill-structuredness is most important. It is in these advanced stages of learning that:

Students must acquire an understanding which is qualitatively different, involving the application of multiple, interrelated concepts to new, diverse, and largely unexpected circumstances.…this more advanced stage requires the mastery of"ill-structured knowledge domains," in which concepts are more complex and interdependent, involve significant context-dependent variations, and require the ability to respond flexibly to highly diverse and "messy" situations of application. (Jones & Spiro, 1992, p. 145)

Students’ ultimate application of knowledge is very different than that which they are familiar, as Feltovich, Coulson, Spiro, and Dawson-Saunders (1992) summarize:

In an ill-structured domain, individuals will not be able to rely on the importation of large, intact, pre-stored knowledge structures coupled to neatly-classifiable knowledge application environments. Rather, what is needed is for students to gain the ability to work with and blend together, flexibly and appropriately, numerous smaller-scale themes and concepts to fit whatever circumstances they might encounter – even novel ones. (p. 229)

Case-based teaching
One approach that allows students to identify "smaller-scale themes and concepts" is case-based teaching.
Case-studies aid the challenges of university courses by helping students learn to draw common structures from the cases to apply to other teaching situations as well as provide a common teaching/learning experience for all students in the class.

In recent years, we have seen an increasing call for the use of "cases" in teacher education as a way of helping students come to grips with the complexities and situated character of teaching (e.g., Sykes & Bird, 1992; Shulman, 1992). Most often, cases are written documents which have narrative-like qualities with a beginning, middle, and end and are situated within a specific context or event (Shulman, 1992). Cases are especially helpful in promoting a sense of reform-oriented teaching, when no exemplars exist. Sykes & Bird (1992) explain:

Most obviously, if teacher educators hold transformative aims and seek to promote new instructional practices and social ideas that are not widely available for observation in schools, then cases might constitute one bridge between hortatory pronouncements and new practices and attitudes. Video cases, in particular, may have value in presenting vivid, concrete images of desirable instructional practices that may help change the minds of prospective teachers.
(p. 494)

Indeed, other researchers have examined the use of video cases on teacher learning. Bransford, Kinzer, Risko, Rowe & Vye (1989) and Kinzer & Risko (1998) found that their use of video resources in teacher preparation programs provided a context-rich anchor from which students drew examples and explications, asked more higher-level questions, became more flexible in their analysis and application of teaching methods, used video content as models for teaching, and retained more vivid recollections of the video content.

Shulman (1992), though, warned that when using too few cases, students may mistake case content as a prescriptive, rather than as an exemplary set of possibilities. This is particularly dangerous in ill-structured domains where applying one’s knowledge draws upon a complex set of experiences rather than a pre-developed solution. In examining three ill-structured domains (medicine, literary criticism, and law), Spiro (as reported in Shulman, 1992, p. 26) found that instructors who used single case examples "permitted single representations to reign unchallenged." We share Shulman’s opinion that teaching truly qualifies as an ill-structured domain, characterized by increasing content complexity and irregularity in applying knowledge across cases (Spiro and Jehng, 1990). Therefore, we promote the use of multiple classroom cases in teaching. We could have used, as many have done, published videotape-cases of many different teachers teaching literacy. However, we wanted to investigate the possibility that a new form of technology, hypermedia, might offer students greater accessibility, control, and flexibility when considering these multiple cases. Thus we deconstructed our cases into clips that could be examined separately from the entire case, and recompiled across cases in ways that informed particular questions, purposes, or interests. We have witnessed the successful development of hypermedia instantiations of case-based teacher education (e.g., Lampert, Heaton, & Ball, 1994; Kinzer & Risko, 1998) as a way of rendering case-based instruction a more viable option for teacher educators and novice teachers in preservice methods classes. Ultimately, we decided to develop a hypermedia learning environment called the Reading Classroom Explorer (RCE) that catered to learning in ill-structured domains by using multiple, rich, video cases of classroom teachers teaching reading to diverse populations.

Unique Strengths of Hypermedia
Early Hypermedia Endeavors: The Humanities
Research and development of hypermedia-based environments in the humanities and in education have demonstrated the unique strengths and potential of hypermedia. Hypermedia systems for use in the humanities reveal that students have shown increased intertextual connections, greater depth of reading, and greater motivation to read (Landow, 1992), an ability to determine interpretations from multi-case analysis (Landow, 1992; Marchionini & Crane, 1994), and a capacity to present more sophisticated arguments in discussion and written work (Marchionini & Crane, 1994). Such hypermedia systems offered access to and control over a range of information and media that, otherwise, would not have been available for perusal and analysis (Kozma, 1991; Marchionini & Crane, 1994) and a "tool" that allowed simple interconnections and presentations of various media for instructional purposes.

Hypermedia in Teacher Education
Explorations into the benefits and challenges of incorporating hypermedia into teacher preparation have occurred in the past decade. Hypermedia has been used as a way to target seemingly perpetual problems in teaching about teaching, including: understanding the complexity of teaching, providing examples of progressive teaching, and providing a similar experience (anchor) to facilitate class discussion.

Lampert, Heaton, and Ball (1994) observed that traditional approaches to teaching prospective teachers about reform-oriented approaches to mathematics instruction was ineffective in changing teachers’ beliefs. Central to their approach to teacher education was the use of hypermedia technology that allowed prospective teachers to confront real-time mathematics teaching "rather than presenting prospective teachers with ideal methods derived from academic theories" (p.277). The hypermedia environment includes video of Deborah Ball teaching mathematics for two years, accompanied by student work, student and teacher journals, and classroom discussion transcripts. Hypermedia provided opportunities to stop, rewind, and revisit teaching and learning episodes and provided rich contextual materials for further study.

In Lampert, Heaton and Ball’s (1994) work with preservice teachers, assignments prompted students "to assert their understandings of teaching and learning by linking together pieces from the data base and challenging one another’s assertions with other evidence from the project database" (p. 284). Assignments pushed students to think broadly and diversely when considering an issue. These broad and diverse perspectives are facilitated through the availability of multiple sources of data. In addition, authoring tools built into the hypermedia environments allow students to organize and manipulate information in ways unavailable in print, including links to supporting data within the environment.

Work at Vanderbilt University (Kinzer & Risko, 1998) provides another example of the deep analysis that multimedia cases provide for users. Kinzer and Risko observed that the preservice teachers with whom they worked (a) "did not feel comfortable in modifying these [instructional] procedures to meet specific instructional situations or specific students’ needs", (b) felt "field experiences and practicum components of our courses were often the most valuable" and (c) "had little or no experience in making ‘up-front’ decisions that are critical to successful classroom instruction" (p. 186. To meet the needs of these preservice teachers, Risko and Kinzer developed eight multimedia cases targeting remedial and developmental reading. The theoretical basis of their work is the concept of anchored instruction (Bransford, Kinzer, Risko, Rowe & Vye, 1989), which involves providing common experiences for instructors and students, thus mitigating differences in background knowledge and rendering instructional examples more relevant by virtue of their connection to a common knowledge base. Also, because the anchor is experienced both by the teacher and the students in a class, shared knowledge develops as part of the classroom community. They found "increased class discussion (and correspondingly, less instructor talk), increased participation by a greater number of students, increased higher level questioning, and increased student-initiated questions and discussions" (1998, p. 190).

Kinzer et al. (1998) identified advantages of video-based cases over print-based cases. Video-based cases are real-time recordings of classroom happenings whereas print-based cases are written from one or few people’s perspectives about a teaching period that already occurred. In their words, "A video case … allows the student the chance to become the observer rather than the third-party listener or reader. The ‘raw data’ of a video-based case are preserved and presented, allowing for a more powerful, real-time analysis of embedded data rather than consideration of recalled data" (Kinzer et al., 1998, p. 192). In addition, print-based cases tend to focus on a particular aspect of teaching that the author decides is important. Video cases, though, offer the capability for preservice learners to explore one aspect of teaching but also to return and review other aspects of the classroom environment again and again. Further, the rapid random access capabilities of hypermedia are advantageous over traditional video-taped cases, in which searching for segments can be tedious, bulky and inaccurate. To honor the richness that video offers, the Vanderbilt cases include the many factors they believe interact to influence classroom instruction: teachers "doing instruction," interviews with teachers (exploring instructional decisions), teacher colleagues (continuity of student learning), parents (views on teacher’s instruction, student learning, homework), students (their own learning), and administrators (placing classroom in larger context), discussant perspectives on case issues, students’ work, teachers’ lesson plans, students’ test scores, and social interactions. For pre-service teachers exploring issues in teaching and learning, these sources provide a more complete sociocultural picture of the classroom and are easily accessible through hypermedia technology, yet would be cumbersome to navigate and consider in print form.

As the benefits of hypermedia in teacher education appear, development of other systems to support various aspects of teacher preparation have begun. van den Berg (1998) has developed multimedia cases in elementary science that are aimed "to stimulate prospective teachers’ pedagogical reasoning in elementary science and technology by situating learning in the complexity of classroom teaching" (p. 4). Fitzgerald and Semrau and colleagues (Fitzgerald, Nichols, and Semrau, 1998; Fitzgerald and Semrau, 1998) have developed hypermedia environments that assist professionals in learning observational skills for measuring children’s behavior. Baker and Wedman (1999a; 1999b) have developed an extensive digital literacy portfolio series that display six elementary students’ reading and writing samples across eight months. These portfolios support viewing children’s literacy from a developmental perspective.

Rationale for the Current Study
The current study, while exploratory in nature, touches on all the themes emerging in this literature review. We tried to situate RCE in a teacher education program struggling to provide preservice teachers with an optimal mix of theory and practice, connecting what they were learning in pedagogy courses with what they were doing and seeing in schools. We attempted to help students cope with the complexities of teaching by providing them, via technology, with access to multiple examples of effective teachers who were trying to present challenging literacy experiences to a diverse array of young students. Our purpose was to better understand how the preservice teachers make sense of the video and hypermedia in relation to their experiences in everyday coursework, school-based observations, and clinical experience: the three major learning opportunities in most teacher education programs. We wanted to learn more about how these preservice students connected, or failed to connect, what they learned in the hypermedia environment to the rest of the course and their overall program. Ultimately, of course, we wanted to know how these experiences influenced their conceptions of being a teacher. This study’s two main research questions are: 1) How does the use of media (video and hypermedia) support learning through classroom cases and how do students connect that learning to their coursework, observation opportunities, and internship? and 2) What is the value added of hypermedia, in particular?

The Learning Context: The Reading Classroom Explorer
Using an existing set of videotaped cases (30 to 60 minutes each) from the Center for the Study of Reading’s (CSR) video series, "Teaching Reading: Strategies from Successful Classrooms," we developed the Reading Classroom Explorer (RCE) (Hughes, Packard, and Pearson, 1997). RCE, a hypermedia learning environment, was designed to highlight the many successful tools and approaches available to engage students from diverse cultural, linguistic, and intellectual backgrounds in challenging literacy curricula. The video footage in RCE shows successful teachers engaged in the process of teaching reading in different ways to this diverse array of students in several sites around the United States (see Table 1). Using an existing series such as the CSR tapes provided several advantages, the most important being (a) that they were already complete, and (b) that they represented high quality video of classrooms acknowledged by the profession as exemplary. The biggest potential drawback was their datedness; most of the filming was completed in the early 90s. While we are now in the process of adding new sites to RCE, it is worth noting that the practices portrayed in the CSR series are still remarkably current, as evidenced by the powerful way in which they speak to today’s preservice and practicing teachers, in an era in which balanced literacy instruction is the watchword of the times. Perhaps the CSR series' designers and CSR teachers were ahead of their time; or, perhaps exemplary instruction travels well across eras.

Table 1: Summary of Six CSR Classrooms’ Features
Teacher and Location Grade Level;
Student Characteristics
Reading/Writing Approach # Clips
Dawn Harris Martine
Harlem, New York
Second Grade;
Almost all students participate in free lunch program
Literature-based; reading/writing across the curriculum; skills embedded in reading contexts. 21
Ann Hemmeter;
San Antonio, Texas
90% of students are Hispanic and participate in free lunch program; most enter speaking English
Emergent literacy in all its manifestations: Emphasis on the connections among reading, writing, speaking, and everyday experience. 31
Marjorie Downer;
Media, Pennsylvania
Second/Third (private);
Caters to students who have difficulty learning to read, including reading words.
The clips focus on the word identification component of a more expansive literacy program; the heart of the program is the use of key spelling patterns to promote decoding by analogy. 27
Joyce Ahuna-Ka’ai’ai;
Honolulu, Hawaii
Third grade;
poor Polynesian-Hawaiian students who bring distinct discourse patterns to school.
Combines culturally relevant pedagogy with challenging literature and explicit strategies for gaining meaning. 28
Kathy Johnson;
Danville, Illinois
Third grade;
Students identified as educable mentally handicapped (EMH) with tested IQs between 50 and 70.
The school as a literate culture: providing varied activities to foster literacy. Classroom activities include independent reading, guided reading and writing. 13
Laura Pardo;
Lansing, Michigan
Third grade;
Racially and ethnically mixed student population; 86% free/reduced lunch participants
Reading/writing across the curriculum. 33

Note: Information for this table summarized from the Viewers’ Guides accompanying the "Teaching Reading: Strategies from Successful Classrooms" video series (Center for the Study of Reading).

We digitized portions of the CSR videotapes into video clips. Technological constraints (which have since been overcome) limited clip length, and they ranged from 30 seconds to 3 minutes. The authors viewed the tapes together and chose natural transitions to delimit clips. Since the CSR tapes are edited, the content had already been shaped into short sections showing classroom teaching and learning with voice-over explanations from the teacher. If a particular section proved too long for digitizing, we split the excerpt into two video clips. The authors also chose a name for each clip that best represented the content. RCE also cross-references clips by theme and keyword categories; a group of literacy teachers and researchers watched each clip and identified as many themes and keywords as were applicable to each. The authors also developed at least one open-ended, theme-based question for each clip (i.e., clips categorized into more than one theme would have more than one question). The clip names were closely associated with reading/writing approach in the videos, as indicated in Table 1. By brainstorming keywords, themes, and open-ended questions for each clip, we tried to acknowledge as many alternate interpretations of the video content as possible.

RCE’s video clip database is searchable by school, theme, and/or keywords. Searching by school, the broadest approach, lists all clips for a particular school. Recently, we adopted Schwab’s (1978) commonplaces of teaching – the teacher, student, curriculum, and context – as overarching themes for organizing and searching through video clips in RCE. Sub-themes under each of these four themes further delineate a search. Finally, the list of keywords offers very specific literacy instruction search terms, such as phonics, concept maps, guided reading, and the like.

For each video clip in RCE, a user can read theme-based questions and identify research articles that relate to a given topic. At the time this research was conducted, RCE had few citations for related research. In the past year, three members of the research and development team identified pertinent articles from The Reading Teacher, Language Arts, and Primary Voices, dating back to 1988. As these journals make back issues available on the web, we will create hyperlinks so users can immediately access articles online. In addition to watching video and reading transcripts and theme-based questions, a user can use a personal interactive notebook in RCE. The interactive notebook saves text and hyperlinks to video clips for the individual user. In this way, a RCE user may compose and attach text and links to a given video clip that may serve as a sort of hypermedia evidence of their thinking at one moment, related to that clip.

While the work reported in this paper came from the CD version of RCE, it is important to note that our RCE research and development group is not only incorporating web-based communication technology into the environment, but also moving the entire (formerly CD-based) system onto the Web. Therefore, all video clips, transcripts, questions, citations to articles, and notebook files, in addition to a collaborative notebook and chat area, are accessible to students across the world (

Transforming video of exemplary reading teachers into a video-based hypermedia learning environment requires a great investment of time and resources. One resounding and important question we ask ourselves (and that other technology-skeptic individuals ask of us) is: why hypermedia? Are there limitations of VHS tapes in the video series that inspired us to invest in this new technology? Of course, videotapes and hypermedia similarly transport preservice students to these classrooms to see the diversity in action. However, we wanted to allow them to visit, revisit, analyze, critique, compare, and contrast a set of diverse classrooms in the rich, flexible, and idiosyncratic manner that hypermedia might provide. In addition, because we intend to expand the repertoire of classroom cases rather dramatically, we wanted to evaluate the degree to which our hopes are shared by the clientele for whom these materials are intended. These very real informational needs guided our search through the data.

The participants were "Post-BA" students, those who already hold a Bachelor's degree and return to complete their teacher certification, enrolled in a teacher education literacy methods course. Fifteen of the twenty-eight students consented to participate in our research project. They ranged in age from mid-twenties to mid-forties. All but one participant were Euro-American. Six students had not established a career before this program; six other students’ previous careers were related to education, business, or government; three did not provide career information.

RCE training session
In a training session during class time, the first two authors demonstrated RCE after which students practiced using the various functions. We also provided a user manual and made ourselves available through E-mail and phone to answer questions.

Context of use
Students used RCE as one source from a host of possible sources they were encouraged to draw upon in the course, including (but not limited to) classroom observations, readings, personal experiences, past careers, and video. Three paper assignments were central to the course (listed in Appendix A). In these, students compared the use of whole language and skills orientations to teaching reading, discussed the management and use of different grouping arrangements (small-group, whole-class, and individual instruction), and considered the awareness and impact of diverse learners on teaching and learning. The second assignment required use of RCE, while RCE was optional in the first and third assignment.

The videotapes (on which RCE is based) were shown to the whole class, usually at a point in the semester at which some salient feature of a particular videotape was under consideration. During the initial viewing students were asked to reflect on the content by listing insights, questions, and concerns which they later discussed in both small and large groups. Though we made the videotapes available for checkout from the media center in the Education building, no one used them outside of class. With the first training session as an exception, students used RCE exclusively outside of class. RCE was available in the media center for use in that lab. Assignments for which the videotapes (and/or RCE clips) were relevant were given due dates far enough in the future so that students would have time to go back and review the videotapes or use RCE as a resource in completing them.

Data Sources and Analysis
There were a variety of data sources (see Appendix A for description):
• three paper assignments for the Methods course
• interviews that focused on reactions to the course, particularly the media component
• a follow-up interview in the semester following the course, focusing on technology learning and current thoughts about how RCE might figure in the internship year
• interviews one year later (focusing on impact of RCE on their teaching philosophy and practice)
• video-taped work sessions during which participants worked with RCE for the second paper assignment, using think-aloud method (Afflerbach & Johnston, 1986)
• surveys that provided information about students’ technology and professional backgrounds and their reactions to the hypermedia.

Students participated to varying extents; each decided what combination of paper collection, interviews, surveys, and video-taped working sessions we could use or collect. Ten students provided two or more sources besides the course papers (see Appendix A). The multiple sources from each student provided opportunities to triangulate data and look longitudinally at an individual student instead of at one fixed point in time. Due to large differences in the amounts and types of data that participants agreed to share with us, much of our analysis focuses on the subset of students (N = 7) from whom we were able to gather the broadest array of evidence from the bulleted list presented earlier. The evidence from other students was used to test the generalizability of hypotheses generated from the analyses of the smaller group of seven. These data provided a strong base from which we could begin our analyses of role of video and hypermedia in a broader learning context that includes many other learning resources, such as texts, class discussion, written assignments, and fieldwork.

It is important to note that the data for these analyses were collected over a two year time span, beginning with the semester in which students took the course and culminating with their internships in the teacher education program. It is also important to note that we had analyzed some of these data for other purposes, such as the nature of student learning and students’ use of media to support their views of teaching and learning (Hughes, Packard, Reischl, & Pearson, 1998). As we conducted these other analyses, we noticed that students frequently compared what they learned through RCE with other learning opportunities in the course and in their broader teacher preparation program, specifically coursework, observation in schools, and teaching internship experiences. These serendipitous discoveries prompted us to re-examine all the data to further study the possibility of systematic relationships between RCE and these broader learning opportunities (coursework, observations, and internships). In fact, this trio of opportunities became the analytic framework for our re-examination. We reread all the data, searching for statements in which explicit (or implicit) comparisons were made between RCE (or the videotapes) and one or more of the trio of broader learning opportunities. While we would not claim that we conducted an ethnography, we did employ tools from the ethnographic tradition (e.g., the constant comparative approach and the development of emergent categories). Basically, particular instances prompted us to add a potential category of comparison to our growing list of categories; we constantly refined the list (expanding, contracting, collapsing categories) as we attempted to classify new instances. We continued in this fashion until we felt we had a complete account of all the data in our corpus. At that point, we attempted to explain these comparative relationships. These attempts are documented in our results section.

Results and Discussion
For the bulk of the results section, we do not distinguish between the video series on which RCE is based and the hypermedia instantiation of RCE. In those sections, the underlying question is what does media add over and above the already existing learning context—(a) the methods classroom, (b) classroom observations, and (c) internship experiences. In the final part of the results section, we explicitly compare the contributions of the video series and the hypermedia component.

Learning within the Methods Classroom
In comparing learning in the methods classroom with learning via media, our data analyses revealed two useful points of comparison, namely, modes of conveying information and opportunities for discussion.

Modes of Conveying Information.
Hearing/reading versus seeing.
Participants in the study overwhelmingly discussed the limitations of reading and hearing about teaching practices in their class context. For example, in her spring interview, Barbara described her troubles with reading about teaching concepts, "...if I’m just reading out of a textbook, I really, really don’t learn a whole lot or remember even. To be able to see it and hear it, is very, very valuable. I can still remember things that I saw because I saw them on video." In comparison to reading about teacher education, they lauded the benefit of "seeing" the teaching practices they "heard" about in class. Jessie highlights the power that the visual lends to learners:

I think it [video] is really powerful [in] helping you understand certain concepts that you can’t maybe grasp as fully when you’re just hearing someone talk about it. I think especially for me, the visual really, really helps me understand concepts. Like being able to see the classroom, you can get so much more than if you’re reading a book about that classroom because you’re seeing, you can see like 10 people at once: how they were reacting to something or how the teacher was acting towards them (Jessie, spring interview)

Both Barbara and Jessie highlight the limitation of course readings and even instructor examples, and they emphasize the power of visual and auditory formatted information -—that which RCE provides the user.

Bringing to life.
Ruth felt that the clips brought practice to her in a more "real" and exciting way - a way in which she felt more prepared and knowledgeable about the practice.

The video and hypermedia combined, those examples, were the most powerful thing to me in my class, in terms of trying to learn how I would want to do something ...those real life examples of what somebody was doing meant the most to me; they got me the most excited; they made me feel like I was seeing the reality of it the most. (Ruth, spring interview)

Being knowledgeable about the practice of teaching reading was of utmost importance to Ruth. She often felt that the in-class learning opportunities still left her wanting more, and yet, she soon tired of reading. She explains, "I don’t feel like I have enough information. It wasn’t until the third [paper] that I also realized that I get tired of reading… most of the time I stopped [using RCE] was because I didn’t have enough time. I wish there were 10 more of them… it kept me awake" (Ruth, spring interview). Ruth had to tear herself away from RCE while she tired easily of reading. It appears that another benefit of RCE is its compulsion to motivate students to explore these exemplary models at length.

Finally, student comments reveal the benefits of RCE as a memory aid and as another context to learn course content. Both Barbara and Dan noted that the clips in RCE helped them remember content more easily than if they read about teaching practices in a book or heard about them from a course lecture. In addition, the clips reinforced the content taught in courses. Barbara explains how she felt more knowledgeable because the clips helped her recall teachers’ approaches:

With these videos… I could remember things a lot better, things we had read or things we had seen. I always knew if I had seen a clip before, [more] than with just reading something or hearing it in class or something. I really don’t remember things very well. I mean, I was impressed with myself about how I could remember this teacher was from this school and this was their approach. (Barbara, spring interview)

The clips left an imprint in these students’ minds. Dan explained, "Yeah, somebody could sit there and sputter off, ‘Ok, the kids did this, the kids did that,’ but to actually see it, it makes more of an impression… I think you retain more and get more out of it than just having someone sit there and tell you that this is what you can do." This ability to see and remember issues and practices of literacy afforded them the possibility to more easily compare and contrast across instances, due to the simple fact they could remember the content!

Opportunities for Discussion
Participants also identified the issue of in-class discussion as problematic. First, a concern with time to discuss emerged from the data: students rarely have a great deal of time to discuss questions, issues, and concerns about teaching, learning, and teaching methods. Second, there is the issue of discussion content. Often students had diverse experiences related to teaching and learning. Though students identified this diversity as an opportunity to grapple with other experiences and perspectives, they also felt that sometimes it obscured any common ground on which they could discuss an issue.

Partner viewing.
Pairs of participants who used RCE to explore their assignment topics suggested that RCE offered them the unanticipated luxury of having opportunities to discuss issues of literacy, teaching, and learning that they otherwise had not had the opportunity to do. Barbara described her appreciation of this time:

…the time spent sitting and watching clips, I just noticed that we had a couple conversations that were, like ...talking about the book club... things that didn’t really have anything to do with the assignment, but it was outside of class, but we were still talking about teaching and ideas…. Especially last year when we are really new to this program and teaching classes, we really needed time to just BLAH about all this stuff that was going on. You get all these ideas going on, and it’s really nice to sit and talk outside of class about whatever comes to mind. (spring interview)

This opportunity not only afforded them a chance to discuss issues presented in their coursework in more depth but also provided them time to ponder issues that appeared unrelated to their specific task at hand. Jessie also highlighted how processing new information was an important part in her learning process. She felt that having time to write about or discuss ideas was essential for her to learn about the concepts. Her assignments for the class and discussions with her work partner, Nina, provided this opportunity. Jessie explained, "I’m seeing it, but for me until I have to write it down or talk about it, then I’m not processing it or learning about the concept as much as if I was looking at it for a second [time]. So, I think it is important to have to reflect on it or process it by some writing or like, more further discussion about it" (spring interview).

In both of Barbara and Jessie’s reflections, the role of partnered explorations seemed prominent and essential in promoting deep engagement and thinking. Barbara imagined what her work and preparation could have looked like if she had not worked with Ruth:

If I had done this by myself, I would have whipped through it. I would have spent maybe
half-an-hour on the Explorer because I wouldn’t have gotten into all of these little conversations with myself about book club stuff. (spring interview)

Exploring RCE with a partner appeared to promote students’ discussion of literacy issues. In the future, examining the use of RCE for in-class group exploration is one way we can learn about the impact of partner-based exploration on students’ learning.

Expanding perspectives.
The second issue that participants raised was their consciousness of how partnered explorations helped them think about different perspectives on literacy and the teaching of reading and writing. RCE provided a common observational basis for users to contemplate and discuss emerging issues further. Barbara reflected on how her use of RCE with her partner, Ruth, changed the content of her papers.

If he [professor] had said, "Don’t work with someone else," and I was working by myself, maybe I would have taken the same approach in my paper as I did, but I don’t think so just because we could sit there and talk about each clip as it came up. We were both in the same spot at the same time. It just really gave us a chance to discuss how we wanted to approach it instead of just diving in and starting to write or ... I think a lot of time with papers, you just want to get it done. We spent a lot of time, a lot of time, just talking about what the assignment was about... (spring interview)

Barbara also was impressed by the ways in which her work with Ruth expanded her ideas about literacy. She explained, "I think if I had done it by would not have been as much fun. And I would be stuck with my own interpretation of things, only the things I thought were interesting, and not anyone else’s opinion" (spring interview). Meanwhile, Ruth acknowledged how sharing ideas helped each develop their own ideas for their course assignments, but did not channel them into possessing the same perspective on issues. Ruth described the process:

A lot of times, we needed to give each other ideas to help us with what we were going to write, but then we also started thinking that we might give each other ideas, but we may write in different directions. I mean, I think we ended up writing in the same kind of direction, but I think we used different things as evidence because we kind of saw it in a different way. (spring interview)

They fed each other ideas but individually assessed the ideas’ applicability to issues they were considering, and each student developed different stances towards issues of literacy.

Participants also identified another encouraging result of RCE use in this course. RCE promoted exploration, independent of course assignment topics. Ruth described her rationale for looking at particular clips and themes in RCE:

Part of the reason I wanted to jump around, part of the reason I’d go back and see things is because I was just interested in them for their own sake, not because it would help me with the paper. But then we’d do this thing where we’d stop and say what are we doing, we’ve got to get this thing turned in and... but I mean, that’s one of the things that I got most excited about, that I kept seeing how I could tap into more of these, that I could use them next year and the year after and you know, I’ve watched a lot. (Ruth, spring interview)

Through use of RCE, Ruth was genuinely interested and excited about exploring the instances of reading instruction to the point that her own inquiries took her off her course assignment task.

Classroom Observations
A second mode of instruction for preservice teachers is classroom observations. The students in the class in which we implemented RCE consistently reported limited access to observation opportunities. During the class, they were required to work two mornings a week in a classroom in a nearby school. During the time allotted for this work, participation, not observation, was the order of the day. This is quite understandable, both from the point of view of the collaborating teacher, who wants to make sure they get involved, and from the point of view of the preservice student, who is equally as anxious to test his or her mettle. The cost, however, is reduced opportunity to observe practice and to reflect on it. RCE has the potential to offer just such an opportunity for preservice teachers to see classes in action. They could observe, reflect on, and analyze practice. These opportunities were constrained neither by the hours of the school day nor by their geographic location.

Observation Opportunities
School visits.
When provided live observation opportunities in classrooms, participants identified constraints limiting their ability to observe and analyze classroom interactions. Jessie described how her collaborating teacher’s expectations interfered with her own desire to observe the classroom. She explained:

Well, I’ve never observed the class really, in my field experience...she [collaborating teacher] was like, "You are not observing this class. And you are not coming in here and just watching and taking notes." From day 1, that’s what she said. So I never really could sit back...[I] never just sit back and observe all these different things happening without being part of it myself, which you can in hypermedia, so you can zero in on things or study things that I don’t think you can when you are involved in it. (spring interview)

Ruth described the random nature of learning when observing. Ruth was never quite sure what she might gain from observing on a particular day. She explained, "If I go out and observe on my own, like on Tuesday, I don’t know what they’re going to be doing, and maybe that’s more realistic, but it’s not gonna give me the things that I maybe need to learn" (spring interview). Further, Ruth lamented that observation opportunities can only occur while schools are in session:

When I’m teaching I’m not going to have time to go and sit 8 to 5 in the classroom to observe somebody. My sister and I did just do that. She’s a teacher too, and that’s a rare opportunity. But, the hope that I could actually observe a classroom after 5:00, you know, on video seemed very exciting to me. (spring interview)

Not only did the timeframe constrain her current observation opportunities, but Ruth also foresaw a drastic decline or even elimination of such opportunities during her subsequent teaching years. Yet, RCE could provide such an opportunity, after school hours.

Virtual observation opportunities.
RCE provided these preservice students the opportunities to observe and revisit classrooms in the hypermedia environment. The clips in RCE supplemented opportunities to observe local, live classrooms. As Ed describes below, the clips allowed students an opportunity to observe classrooms in action. To students like Jessie whose collaborating teachers required them to become more of a participating member of the classroom, this opportunity to observe became salient. Ed describes the benefit of being able to observe through video:

I really liked seeing classrooms in action. I thought that that was very valuable to me as a student in the class because I think one thing about the course was we’re learning all these ideas, ways to think and sort of building a philosophy for teaching but to actually see a classroom in action is really quite another thing, and it’s really valuable thing to see this stuff in action. So I’m glad that I had a chance to see the videos. (spring interview)

Jessie appreciated RCE’s capabilities, unavailable when viewing live practice. She describes:

You have a lot more control over what you are observing in hypermedia and to some degree in the videos. You know, you can stand back and you can freeze and that, and obviously you can’t do that when you are, you know, in a classroom. (spring interview)

The ability to stop, review, and replay instances of classroom interaction and teaching was crucial in their observation experience.

Learning within a Practicum Setting
A third mode of instruction for preservice teachers includes learning about teaching by working under the guidance of a collaborating classroom teacher. Students gain opportunities to see classroom teaching in action, work with a teacher, and gather advice while developing lessons to teach with guidance from their collaborating teacher. Although preservice teachers in our study universally report looking forward to working with a collaborating teacher, many expressed disappointment with the teaching they observed in their school placements. Recall that all of the students in our sample were working at least two mornings a week in a classroom setting. This was not student teaching, but a precursor experience—what is often labeled as observation-participation experience. As indicated earlier, for virtually all of the students in our sample, this meant participation rather than observation.

In our admittedly small sample, the most common complaint was that collaborating teachers spent little time teaching reading and, more often than not, did not teach in ways that aligned with the progressive focus of the teacher education program. For example, Barbara described her experience with her collaborating teachers (CT), "It’s been OK. It’s not, … she’s not doing spectacular things with literature" (spring interview). Other students appeared more frustrated with their placements. Ed describes, "my field placement has been very disappointing to me. A very traditional classroom. It’s a place that I really haven’t been able to see a lot of the ideas put into practice" (spring interview). Participants, especially those who were disappointed with their CT’s teaching practice, appreciated RCE multiple models of exemplary teaching.

Exemplary Teaching Models
Preservice teachers, both those disappointed and pleased with their internship placements, identified that the videos and RCE provided multiple models of excellence. For those pleased with their CTs, these models were an additional resource to learn about teaching. For those disappointed with their CTs, interaction with RCE was crucial in their preservice learning. Ed appreciated the access to alternative examples of teachers:

[My CT] has been a big disappointment for me, and so the videos were important to me for that reason. I mean, they were more valuable to me than to other people who had better field placements. (spring interview)

Without access to these models, some of our preservice teachers would have doubted the actual existence of teachers out in the field who used the progressive teaching practices that they were learning in their certification coursework, and doubted their own ability to implement such teaching approaches in their own future classrooms as well. Barbara explains the role that the videos and RCE had in increasing her self-confidence:

I am very glad to have had the opportunity to see these videos and to work with the hypermedia clips. Because I haven’t been able to see these kinds of progressive teaching strategies in my field placement, I don’t think that I would have felt nearly as confident in my ability to create my own literacy program (or to recognize the characteristics of a quality literacy program) as I do now. (paper 3)

In summary, seeing even one of the video exemplars from RCE was a powerful experience for participants because it provided an additional model to their repertoire of teaching examples, often primarily consisting of their CT’s teaching practice. Observing these additional models boosted students’ self-confidence that they, too, could identify progressive teaching methods and work towards implementation of these in their own classrooms.

Multiple Perspectives
Since RCE provides six diverse approaches to teaching (and is on its way to several more), students benefited from exploring more than one approach to practice. This variety impacted the preservice teachers’ development of their own philosophy of teaching. Barbara described how she developed an appreciation for the multiple ways to teach:

Just being able to see these six teachers who I think are excellent, I wouldn’t have known that you could do some of this stuff that they’re doing because my teacher doesn’t do a lot of that, not that she’s a bad teacher, but she just doesn’t do it. So if you’re only seeing one model, you sort of think, well, "oh, that’s the way to do it" but there is not a way to do it, there are many ways to do it and to do it well. You know, I don’t think I would have learned that necessarily without seeing the videos. (spring interview)

Ed also identified that the variety of methods presented through the classroom cases helped him learn about the adaptability and flexibility of classroom instruction to support student success.

Part of their value, for me, was the fact that they represented a variety of approaches to teaching literacy...In addition, these videos provided an opportunity to see classroom settings across the country, which reflected a diversity of students. It was very interesting to observe how the different teachers responded to their respective classroom situations. In terms of changing my overall perspective on teaching reading and writing, the videos reinforced and clarified my view that each classroom situation is unique, because all students have different experiences and think about the world in different ways. Because of this, teachers must adapt their practices so that all students can be successful. These videos suggested that teachers can approach this sort of responsiveness in a multitude of ways. (paper 3).

Other students claimed that they learned about flexibility in teaching, especially when dealing with diverse classroom populations, from exploring the videos. Jessie explained, "I think it made me broaden my awareness [that] what works for one teacher isn’t going to work for another teacher, not only because of your own personal styles, but there are all these other factors that you need to take into consideration" (spring interview).

It is not surprising that these multiple models of teaching became an important resource for those students who worked with CTs who had little variety in teaching methods. Nina’s exploration of these models enhanced her understanding of reading and writing instruction. She explained:

By viewing the hypermedia, I have increased my knowledge on various methods of teaching reading and writing. It was an especially beneficial experience for me because of the little reading and writing that I am able to observe in my CT’s classroom. I believe viewing the teachers on the hypermedia has made me more aware of the many methods to teach reading and writing. (paper 3)

Students came to believe that they did not have to align their own teaching strategies to one particular model. Rather, they could combine successful approaches for the needs in their classrooms from the many models. Sandy described how the models impacted her future teaching methods, "What I have valued most about visiting these classrooms via videotape and hypermedia, is the opportunity they’ve given me to observe a variety of good teaching practices... I’ve also learned that it is really possible to combine the best of several different approaches, and do some skill instruction, if it’s what the students need" (paper 3). The variety of models and methods supported students’ explorations of the many ways to teach. These explorations revealed that there are many good ways to teach. Elise and Rhonda described RCE’s role in their learning about the teaching of reading and writing:

Viewing these videos has dramatically changed our perspectives on teaching reading and writing. Previously, we had no idea there was so much room for creativity and active learning in teaching reading and writing. We grew up with a phonics approach and had yet to discover the wonders of teaching via good literature as opposed to basals. In exploring these classrooms, we discovered a whole new world of possibilities as to how one can make a classroom literature rich. We do not feel that either a phonics approach or a whole language approach is necessarily the "correct" way to go, but more importantly a good teacher is able to motivate his/her students to become life-long readers and writers. In watching these videos, we were introduced to many ideas as well as several activities that we will implement in our classrooms as we see them as being motivational tools. We feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit such exemplary classrooms without even leaving Lansing. Perhaps someday you will use our classroom as part of your Reading Classroom Explorer. (paper 3)

This metacognitive reflection indicates the high regard that Elise and Rhonda held of the RCE in its ability to educate them about literacy.

In summary, students’ conceptions of teaching and becoming a teacher were supported by their interactions with the videos and hypermedia. Students who were looking for examples of progressive, excellent teachers found RCE especially helpful. The models in RCE presented hope for these preservice teachers - showing that some teachers do teach in a manner highlighted in methods courses. The multiple perspectives gained from looking across the six classroom cases in RCE helped students learn about the variety of teaching methods and the adaptability and flexibility teachers need to support student learning.

Specific Teaching Ideas
In addition to providing multiple models of teaching practices for diverse populations, RCE facilitated students’ identification of practical ways to implement teaching methods in their own classrooms. Preservice teachers vividly recalled ideas from RCE, which suggests that students were excited and impressed by many of the innovative lessons presented in the videos. For example, Jessie described aspects of lessons she remembered:

My understanding of how to teach reading and writing has improved as a result of my experience with hypermedia. Although each classroom was structured uniquely and the teacher employed different teaching strategies, I learned about innovative, effective ways to reach students. A couple of my favorites include encouraging students through the Book Club (Harlem), learning about newspapers through a field trip to the Lansing State Journal (Lansing), and enticing students to read in the "log cabin" made of wrapping paper tubes during a study of Abraham Lincoln (Danville). (paper 3)

Likewise, others vividly recalled an example in the San Antonio classroom, where the teacher took children on a field trip to the supermarket, demonstrating the powerful use of one’s local environment.

Not only did students collect and remember these teaching perspectives and ideas, but some even tried to implement them during their internship teaching like Jack who felt "these videos have provided me with a wealth of ideas to try during my internship year" (paper 3). Other students used the teaching methods as a way to revisit their own teaching philosophy and natural inclinations. Stella described how her perspective on "tracking" changed:

Viewing these videos has changed my perspective on teaching reading and writing. I never realized the disadvantages to tracking until this class. I now feel that groups should not be divided by ability. I have seen (especially in Harlem) how it is possible to avoid tracking and maintain a successful reading class. (paper 3)

RCE provided an additional resource for students to gather ideas about teaching that they could analyze and consider using in their own teaching.

Thinking about Teaching
In addition to gaining ideas about teaching, the videos and RCE encouraged students to revisit and perhaps refine their views of teaching. For example, Jack only became aware of his preconceptions about teaching reading and writing after exploring a teacher’s integrated approach in RCE. He explains:

Another interesting paradigm that arose from my viewing of the Allen Street school was the integration of subject content and the reading and writing skills. This shift opened up a wealth of possibilities for me in my thinking about literacy. No longer do I feel constrained by the idea that a given amount of instruction time must be set aside solely for reading/writing skills. (paper 3)

Excerpts of teachers teaching students with diverse needs influenced Melinda to revisit her own preconceptions about teaching students with diverse needs. She describes:

The teachers in these classrooms have made changes in order that all students receive the education suited to both their needs and weaknesses. Seeing this type of instructional practice modeled for me has led me to refine some previously held views on educating students with diverse needs. (paper 3)

Exploring the six classrooms also pushed many of the students to reconsider a previously held belief that smallgroup instruction was always better than whole class instruction. After viewing some of the innovative ways that the teachers used wholeclass instruction, students refined their view. Barbara describes her reconsideration:

I always enjoyed small group activities and I think that in my school experiences, I didn’t have a lot of that; it was something special. So I guess I was thinking this is much better than the wholeclass. Then we had only seen only one or two videos and then doing the hypermedia and seeing how these teachers who I thought were amazing were using wholegroup instruction, and it was still very interesting and exciting. I sort of thought, "If you do it right, it can still be valuable and very personal." I think I sort of got a better sense of the fact that wholeclass [instruction] doesn’t mean [a one-way street from] teacher [to] students; it means there can still be a lot of interaction. (spring interview)

In summary, RCE provided the resources and access for students to reconsider and refine their views on teaching. Strongly held beliefs and views on teaching were challenged by the innovative approaches demonstrated in the video exemplars.

Durability of RCE Images
We were able to locate and interview seven students after their yearlong internship (about 13-15 months after they had experienced RCE) in which they had a considerable amount of responsibility for instruction under the guidance of a collaborating teacher. In order to see if images of RCE emerged without prompting on our part, we asked about their current views of teaching reading and writing now that they had a year of experience under their belts. Then, we asked them to reflect on those views as a function of the ideas that they had encountered in the course. Only after exhausting the conversation prompted by these indirect probes did we turn explicitly to their recollection of the teachers and ideas that they had encountered in RCE. Four of the seven participants recalled content from RCE and the videos before direct prompting. We found that RCE images were durable over the yearlong internship, although the nature of the durability depended upon the nature of their internship experience. We differentiate between instances of explicit durability and tacit durability.

Explicit durability describes students who directly linked their current teaching philosophies and practice to RCE models. RCE images were more explicitly durable in two situations. First, two students did not see their collaborating teachers as models of exemplary teaching or as supporting their reform-minded philosophies during their internships. Jessie described her situation; "I felt that [literature groups] supported my philosophy and I wanted to get the practice in it so that when I would be on my own I could feel more comfortable. That didn’t happen"(summer interview). Fortunately, RCE images served as virtual models. The following is one example of many images that Jessie recalled a year later, "Well I do remember little snippets of them. That teacher wanted to ‘marinate her children in literature.’ She coined that phrase and I thought about that all throughout the year how important that is to have all different kinds of literature"(spring interview). Jessie used teaching exemplars from RCE to guide her in developing a reform-oriented approach to the teaching of reading. The second situation involved two students likening their collaborating teachers to the exemplary models in RCE. Ruth reported that her collaborating teacher reminded her of the New York teacher in the video.

You know the one from New York...I’m sure I talked to my CT about it a couple times. I think our classroom is very much like that. My CT did share a story that she has started and it reminded me of when the teacher in that video shared what she has done with her adult group. So we talked about that a little bit. (summer interview)

Ruth was pleased to find that her collaborating teacher did complement the ideas she read about in preservice courses and saw in RCE.

Tacit durability describes students who regarded RCE as an ancillary educational resource. RCE images were more tacitly durable in instances where students had rich experiences with collaborating teaching in their internships. Melinda found similarities between her philosophy and that of her mentor teacher. RCE, then, became one of the many resources Melinda drew from. She describes:

I don’t know that I can honestly say that there was a specific time when I said, I’m gonna teach this lesson that I remember seeing. But [I do remember] the lady who took her kids to the grocery store. The video was talking about having a "letter day" and finding everything to do with that letter. I do remember doing something when I was in the second grade classroom and we were beyond doing letter of the day. We turned it around and did it with "sh" -. We would find everything that had to do with "sh"...I think the influence was more subtle… In teaching, it’s always a little bit of this, then a bit of that, you’ve got from places you probably don’t remember–– you know, a magazine article that you read a couple years ago. That is what I mean by subtle. (summer interview)

The RCE images, in these instances, blended with other experiences and knowledge sources.

It is encouraging to find that RCE models served a major educative role for students who felt they were not exposed to exemplary models of literacy instruction in their practicum placements and a supporting role for students who had enriched experiences in the internship.

Why Hypermedia?
Our second research question was: Why hypermedia? Why not just video or still images accompanied by thorough descriptions in text format? Our students had a great deal to say about the unique contribution of the hypermedia context. Unlike the former results sections, in the following section we contrast the video and the hypermedia environments. Results are based on participants’ comments in interviews and viewing sessions in which they considered the medium through which they viewed video and compared the impact each had on their learning.

Flexibility in revisiting
The students in the course considered the video content very helpful and enlightening in their learning about literacy. By first watching the VHS videos in class, they better understood each site’s approach to reading and writing instruction. However, participants explained that they often desired to go back and watch a portion of the video again. Melinda described the pressures involved while watching the VHS videos in class:

We really liked the videos, everyone pretty much agreed that watching the videos in class was neat and we saw a lot of things we liked… sometimes you want to listen to what someone has to say more than once to kind of get it, and it does go fast in the videos. The pace is really fast and you’re trying to take notes, you’re trying to think about your paper and all that other kind of stuff. (spring interview)

Students’ exposure and access to RCE provided just the right solution: the ability to easily review and revisit parts of the videotape content. Melinda explained the benefit of the hypermedia in the spring interview, "it [hypermedia] helps you review the video if you missed something or [if] you want to see something again." Jack, in the fall interview, described the advantage of navigating through the hypermedia system over the videotapes: "I liked that a lot better than if we had to watch another videotape. And you would think, which one was that? Rewind and fast forward. When it was on the computer you could go specifically to a certain point about a certain subject." Being able to access key points in the video quickly and efficiently in RCE became a significant benefit over traditional VHS access.

This ease of use actually inspired students to use RCE to revisit clips. Don, in his fall interview, explained:

Especially when you go back and look at the clips, you know you can go back and find which clip it was instead of having to watch the whole video. I think if you had to watch the whole video, some people would be like, "Just forget it. I’m just going to try to remember." But instead people were like, "Oh yeah, remember this part?" It was easier to find, and it was real helpful.

Don indicates, unfortunately, that the awkwardness and hassle of locating excerpts on videotapes dissuades students from accessing it again. Without the option of retrieving video clips in RCE, students may have relied on their memories of the video seen once in class, sacrificing the inspiring and thoughtful, "Oh yeah, remember this part?" moments.

Enhancing Learning
Fortunately, these students did use RCE to revisit the school sites that they viewed on the videotapes in class. Don and Ruth both explained a perceived benefit from revisiting sites: they felt that they learned from and remembered the video content better. Ruth acknowledged her need to revisit the school sites in order to better understand each teacher’s perspective and approach to teaching reading and writing. She explained in her spring interview:

I think that if we had just watched the videos, it would be more a vague idea in my head of what they were doing and how we did it. And I think by doing the hypermedia, we got to get more specific about the different components of it. I mean, just, by the fact that this is kind of a repetitive type of thing helped me remember. But yeah, if they said, today we’re going to watch that video we watched last week, I probably would have gone, "well forget it." But... using as evidence for my point of view or for what I thought I had learned, I think, did a lot for making it, for making me understand the issues more and for sticking in my mind specific examples of how that would or wouldn’t work.

Ruth used RCE as an opportunity to get to the heart of each teaching approach, an educative experience she might have missed without access to RCE. Don also attributed better retention and consideration of issues and content to use of RCE. He described:

Then you can even go back and even find that stuff in the video clips, and I think you retain more and get more out of it than just having someone sit there and tell you that this is what you can do... but if you have the opportunity and the technology right there to do that, I think it works out a lot easier... I’d bookmark stuff and then I’d be like, "OK, wait, hold on," and I’d go back, and I couldn’t remember which one was which. It is a lot easier if you can do that instead of having to go back and rewind the tape and run through a whole entire tape. (Don, fall interview)

As a student, knowing that you will have access to RCE for later revisiting of school sites reduced the pressure in class to simultaneously watch the video, take notes, consider literacy issues covered in class, and develop and redefine their own teaching philosophiesæan insurmountable task all at once. Melinda described how RCE freed her from these pressures that access to VHS videos did not:

I think maybe after knowing that the hypermedia was going to be there, that I could go back and check things out again. I felt a little bit more comfortable about not taking very detailed notes, and just sitting back and kind of enjoying the video (spring interview)

Providing preservice teachers the time to enjoy and appreciate the profession that they are preparing to enter into seems to be another auxiliary, yet significant, benefit of RCE.

In-Depth Examination
The preservice teachers valued the opportunity to revisit these clips more than once, and RCE made this possible. What was it about these chances to examine the video again that made it a worthwhile endeavor? Many of the participants cited the details inherent in video-captured school scenes as valuable. Don acknowledged the benefit of "seeing" the classrooms instead of "hearing" about them.

While participants revisited these schools using RCE to observe again, they also acknowledged another feature of RCE that helped them analyze the content-—the notebook feature. Ed explains the role the notebook can play in analysis, "I think you could really look in much greater detail at different aspects of the classroom. You can just zero in on a specific part of the dialogue, and there is that whole notepad thing where you can sort of take notes on it, and I think it can be a very effective tool and a very convenient tool, too" (spring interview). Jessie also spoke of the notebook’s role in her ability to analyze classrooms and issues in greater depth, which she could not do while the video fled by in class viewing sessions. She described, "We got more detailed information because we could stop and write notes on that notebook...I thought it was good because you could get isolated information and spend more time than when you’re watching a video with the whole class, you’re not pausing it..." (spring interview). Because few students allowed us to videotape their work with RCE, we have limited information about our participants’ actual use of the notebook. In other work (Hughes, Packard, Reischl, and Pearson, 1998), we specifically examined students’ collaborative exploration and development of inquiry-based arguments composed in the notebook feature.

Cross-Classroom Analysis
While comparing viewing videotapes serially to use of RCE, participants identified another benefit. Just as Jessie and Don explained how the notebook helped them look at classrooms in greater depth, the ability to look quickly across classrooms (and document such in the notebook) led to a cross-classroom lens in many participants’ analysis of issues in literacy. Barbara described her awareness of the six classrooms, "I also like the fact that that we could see from six different classrooms. We could see clips from all of them at once. Whereas, if you just see one video, you just see one classroom all the way through." Barbara continued to explain how viewing videotapes serially was not advantageous for her work:

I would tend to focus on one, one classroom and forget the others if they weren’t all there, easily accessible. If I had just seen one video, that would be the video that I would think about, I wouldn’t think about the video that I just saw you know, two videos before. It’s too hard, you can’t keep (what is it?) six half-hour videos in your mind all the time. I think it was just, I could remind myself by looking through clips, I could remind myself of what I had seen. And go, "Oh yeah, they’re doing that there, and they’re doing this here, and it’s similar, but it’s different." It was just easier to remind myself of what I had seen and try to make some connection among the classes. (spring interview)

Other participants agreed with Barbara’s view of the advantage of RCE’s access to video across the classroom sites. Ed visualized the clips as "some sort of a whole...that made me think more about the different videos and try to find points of similarity between them or differences." Like Barbara, he feared that viewing the videos serially would have made "just one or two of the videos [stick] out in my mind" (spring interview).

In addition to supporting cross-classroom analysis, Barbara also indicated that using RCE to view excerpts of the video again allowed her to revisit and, most important, reconsider instructional methods in teachers’ programs that otherwise, she might have dismissed or forgotten after watching the video the first time. She explains the possibility:

And some of the classrooms … it wasn’t really, I didn’t think it was bad, but I wasn’t that interested in how she was doing things, or there was something about it that I didn’t like very much. But, there were some things that I thought, "that’s a really neat idea," and if you just see one clip of something, it’s much easier to appreciate something, and think "oh, oh, that’s a good idea" than if you’re watching this whole video and you just get this idea that "I don’t like this." (spring interview)

Barbara identifies and elucidates a tremendous advantage RCE provides for preservice teachers’ learning. In Barbara’s course assignments we see how, through careful revisiting and re-evaluating classrooms by using RCE, her first-impressions of certain classrooms as "phonics-based" or "whole-language" or "one that uses whole class instruction" begin to change over time (for further explication of this see Hughes, Packard, & Pearson, 1999). She considers classroom behavior and instructional practices in more detail, and her first impressions and stereotypes crumble when she realizes advantages and disadvantages of certain methods, based on various and changing factors. Without the opportunity to reconsider and revisit these classrooms, she most likely would have ignored all methods and practice in particular classrooms; whereas with the help of RCE, she began to appreciate certain aspects of teaching and learning she observed.

We want to acknowledge two sets of limitations: (a) the qualifications that participants identified in the course of using RCE as a learning tool; and (b) the limitations of this particular study as a piece of research.

Limitations to Reading Classroom Explorer
Although RCE was used in the context of the class, students did not have as much access to RCE as they may have liked. RCE was available to students to use in the computing center after class time. Students may have gained more from the interactions in class if they had the opportunity to use RCE during class time. This would make RCE an even more integral part of class discussion and would increase the opportunities for peer viewing which was important for learning.

Technical Support.
All of the researchers made themselves available for technical support by training the students in the use of RCE and by responding to any problems that arose. However, technological problems arose during off-hours when we were not able to respond which left some students unable to use RCE. In cases of procrastination, like Ed who used RCE the night before assignment due dates, technical troubles led him to never use RCE. While RCE can be described as a teacher education resource, it is indeed a piece of technology and requires some basic computer knowledge (operating the CD drive) and comfort with using technology.

Literacy Instruction.
While RCE enriched their learning experiences in courses, students did still see gaps in their training. Jack reflected on this in his final paper. He wrote:

Between the videos, classroom instruction, and elementary classroom observation, I have come to the realization that my phonics training is grossly inadequate. I find it extremely egregious that our entire instruction in the overwhelming subject of literacy consists of 36 classroom hours. This requires the instructor to cover phonics, whole-language, children’s literature, videos, reading and writing, demonstrations, and a variety of other critical topics in a remarkably brief amount of time. Although it was effective in sparking my interest, the focus on breadth of coverage versus depth of coverage leaves me feeling quite anxious about actually applying these techniques in a real classroom setting. The phrase "knowing just enough to be dangerous" comes to mind. (paper 3)

Until teacher preparatory programs consider increasing the amount of time available for learning about literacy instruction, we are not sure how to address Jack’s concern. One possibility is making a resource like RCE, only with many more classrooms and issues, available on the web for preservice and inservice teachers to access on their own. Providing access to RCE over the web and by expanding the exemplars available in RCE may be one way in which more inquiring minds can continue to learn about issues of literacy and instruction.

Keyhole Perspective.
Students found it important to understand the context of clips. Sometimes the edited nature of the videos prevented users from understanding background information about a site. Barbara commented on this problem:

I think we were talking about the Media one; they chose to focus on their, the Benchmark Reading Program, and sort of made mention of the fact that there is more beyond that, but they didn’t show [it]. They just showed the classroom instruction of this particular program...I guess, I always had to be aware that this, that I was always seeing half an hour out of, [rather than] 40 hours of videotape for each teacher. (spring interview)

As Barbara indicates, she made herself aware of and considered this "limited" view of the classroom. Other participants also acknowledged their awareness that the brevity of the tape could not capture the full complexity of the classroom. Ed explained:

It’s sort of pre-selected for you what you see in these videos, and you are just getting a little keyhole to look through. And even when you go out into your field placement, that’s still a limited perspective. It’s not like you are there all day or been there all year...the technology does give you a limited perspective, a specific perspective on the classroom, so I recognize that. I think it’s important when viewing these classrooms, these videos of classrooms to keep that in mind. I had questions...I had questions about what were these classrooms like more fully. (spring interview)

This "keyhole" perspective made it difficult for students to assess how typical the classrooms were. One way to respond to this limitation is to include much more contextual information in RCE. We are currently videotaping and developing new cases with this in mind.

Excessive Polish.
The documentation of these exemplary teachers appeared to present a "polished" classroom atmosphere, leaving students questioning the extent to which these classrooms always ran so smoothly. Again, our participants acknowledged this limitation:

You are kind of seeing the ship-shaped appearance when you are seeing the video. So to a certain extent you are thinking, it’s authentic, but it’s not as authentic as if I went in and sat down on any given day and surprised the teacher as far as walking in and sitting down in the back and taking notes. (Melinda, spring interview)

Students noted that the video exemplars were exemplary teachers. Ruth worried, "Maybe I have this too idealized version that they're really doing this great stuff every day and maybe they’re not..." (spring interview). This limitation, however, motivated students by providing long-term models of teaching they wished to work towards.

User Control.
The redundancy of some keywords (for searching) and the inability to move chronologically through the video clips in each classroom were cited as problematic to users. The capacity to tailor one’s search underscores a major shortcoming of the version of RCE used in this study. When these data were gathered, RCE was decidedly more developer-controlled than other hypermedia systems. In developing newer versions (including a web-based RCE), we have changed many of these features to give the user more control. In the latest iteration, both the entire video as well as the constituent clips are available, and soon the viewer will be able to move from a particular clip to clips that immediately precede and follow it. And in the future, we will provide a version in which users can create their own clips and categorization schemes, not unlike the environment studied by Kinzer and Risko (1998).

Limitations to the Research Study
This study was an exploration not an experiment. Thus our results are suggestive of possible relationships between experiences and learning rather than definitive conclusions about causes of student knowledge, skills, and dispositions. Even as an exploration, our analyses are compromised by the fact that we had an unequal distribution of data across participants—not all students chose to share all of their data with us. Also, we have a natural confound between the videotapes and the clips within RCE; no one witnessed only RCE. Thus our conclusions about the unique value of the hypermedia environment are based upon the reports of the participants rather than independent inferences driven by causal logic. Finally, while we followed several of the students over a two year period, we did not follow them into their first year of teaching; thus we can not answer the most critical of questions: Does the content of RCE influence the teaching practices of teachers who use it? The answer to that question must await further research.

Overall, preservice teachers were exposed to multiple approaches to teaching and perspectives on in-classroom literacy practice. They gained ideas and refined their perspectives on teaching after exploring the videos and hypermedia. From these experiences, our participants further developed conceptions of themselves as teachers. We conclude from this evidence that the use of multiple classroom cases in teaching is critical because it encourages preservice teachers to use a cross-classroom lens and to see that exemplary teaching can take multiple forms. Using the full-length videotapes alone is very useful, as is evidenced by the many favorable comments about the video content, but the videos tend to draw students’ focus to one classroom approach to teaching at a time. In such a situation, it is possible to dismiss an entire video’s content due to cognitive conflict with some possibly minor aspect of the teaching captured on the video. As the participants commented, RCE spurred their desire to consult multiple classrooms and use several teaching images in constructing their own conceptions of becoming a teacher. Thus, it is our inference that preservice teachers became more flexible in their understanding of teaching and that the use of multiple images reduced the belief that "one correct way" to teach existed.

Educational Importance, Lingering Issues, and Implications
This study builds our knowledge base about the role of hypermedia in preservice instruction and student learning. More important, perhaps, this study helps substantiate our foray into the use of video-based hypermedia systems over traditional use of VHS taped exemplars for preservice teacher education. For the participants who both watched the videos and used the RCE system, we have no way of attributing their thoughts and evidence uniquely to either the video or the hypermedia tools. Short of examining with students each instance of video evidence in course papers to identify what source they identify, there is no way of telling which medium made images memorable.

We have explored how preservice teachers view a virtual set of classrooms and how they engage in observation and analysis using it. In particular, our participants indicate that this hypermedia learning environment has provided a needed resource that enhances their learning. Readily available, user-controlled access to these multiple approaches complements and extends the resources available in teacher education programs and classrooms. This environment appears to have enriched their classroom learning by providing opportunities to "see" the progressive models of teaching they learn about in their coursework, provided opportunities—unconstrained by the hours of the school day nor by geographic location—to observe, reflect on, and analyze teaching practice, and expanded their virtual internship experience by providing multiple approaches to literacy instruction. In short, Reading Classroom Explorer appears to hold great promise as a complement to other learning experiences that have stood the test of time. However, there are many future directions for this research.

The question of what constitutes a case is unresolved in our work. On the face of it, we conceptualized a "case" in this version of RCE as a literacy classroom. The six CSR classrooms illustrate each teacher’s approach to literacy development in her classroom. In development of new cases, we have expanded our notion of case. For example, we use an instructional unit to frame the classroom case, yet this larger instructional unit is subdivided into mini-cases where, for example, a learning activity is portrayed through a series of video clips. Though the largest frame is the literacy classroom, we acknowledge that an individual video clip could be a case, or the aggregation of clips on a certain theme or topic could constitute a case. Based on the logic and spirit of cognitive flexibility theory (Spiro & Jehng, 1990), identifying a case is entirely a functional question. A thing (or a set of things) is a case if this instance or set of instances reveal information about the topic of inquiry. The question of what constitutes a case is entirely dependent upon the inquiry and cannot be answered independent of a particular context and purpose. Hopefully, future work will shed more light on the notion of cases.

In this study, we tapped only one of many ways to use RCE in preservice education. We have since used RCE as resource in other preservice education courses. In one course, the instructor modeled how one could use RCE to develop and explore one’s own questions about literacy teaching and learning. Her students used RCE in small groups to develop and explore their own questions, and used RCE’s interactive notebook as a presentation tool to share their results with their peers and the instructor. Another instructor used a new web-based version of RCE and designed online "chat" topics for her students to explore in pairs. We are now studying the use of RCE across very distant sites and considering ways RCE could be used as a professional development tool. Thus, there are various ways RCE could be integrated into preservice education in order to support students’ learning about literacy instruction. We are looking forward to learning from these future iterations of RCE development and research and others’ explorations of how hypermedia can support preservice education in the area of literacy and beyond.

Appendix A: Participant Characteristics, Data Collected, and Description of Data

Past Career Paper 1
Paper 2
Paper 3
May ’97 Interview
October ’97 Interview
Summer ’98 Interview
Videotaped work
Survey h
Child Development Aide X X X X X X X (w/Ruth; twice) X
Waitress X X X X X X X (w/Barbara; twice) X
Not established X X X X X X -- X
Teacher (private); Retail Management X X (w/Jessie) X X -- X X (w/Jessie) X
Lobbyist X X (w/Nina) X X -- X X (w/Nina) X
Accountant /Business Manager X X X X -- X X X
Don Not available X X X -- X X -- --
Not established X X X X -- -- -- X
Sharon Not available X X X X -- -- -- X
Education: Inclusion Facilitator X X X -- X -- -- X
Not available X X X -- -- -- -- --
Not established X (w/Rhonda) X X (w/Rhonda) -- -- -- -- X
Not established X
-- -- -- -- --
Not established X X X -- -- -- -- --
Not established X X X -- -- -- -- --

a Paper 1 Assignment (2/4/97): Use of Reading Classroom Explorer Optional. Teachers struggle with how to organize their classrooms in a way that supports student learning. For example, educators debate whether whole-class, small group, or independent work is most beneficial for student learning, and teachers must decide for themselves the set of organizational strategies they will use to accomplish their goals. Use the various information sources (e.g., observations, personal experiences, video, hypermedia, readings etc.) encountered thus far to come to an informed opinion about classroom organization strategies and their impact on student learning. Communicate your views in a paper of approximately 500-1000 words in length. This assignment may be completed individually or in pairs.

b Paper 2 Assignment (3/25/97): Use of Reading Classroom Explorer Required. For decades, educators have been discussing the benefits and disadvantages of skill-based and whole-language approaches to literacy. Using two or more classrooms, examine the role of literature, skill instruction, and students’ prior knowledge in building a literacy program. Communicate your views in a paper of approximately 500-1000 words in length. This assignment may be completed individually or in pairs.

c Paper 3 Assignment (4/16/97): Use of Reading Classroom Explorer optional. In your view, has the intellectual, socioeconomic, and ethnic/racial diversity in these classrooms affected the way these teachers approach teaching and learning? Explain. Has viewing these videos (either in video or hypermedia format) changed your perspective on teaching reading and writing? Explain. Communicate your views on these questions in a paper of approximately 500-1000 words in length. This assignment may be completed individually or in pairs.

d May ’97 Interview. Focus on student experience with RCE component of coursework.

e October ’97 Interview. Focus on if participants made any tie between their work with Reading Classroom Explorer to their accomplishment of technology proficiencies for teacher certification.

f Summer ’98 Interview. Focus on students’ experiences in internship experience. Assess if participants mention RCE in discussion of internship.

g Video taped Work Session. Some students agreed to allow us to videotape them while they used Reading Classroom Explorer. We set the video camera on and left the students to work in a quiet office.

h Survey. A survey was administered at the end of the class asking students to evaluate the media component of the course – including its benefit to learning, course content, and ease of use. It also inquired about RCE features used (e.g., search mechanisms, transcript, questions, notebook, etc.).

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This research was conducted as part of CIERA, the Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement, and supported under the Educational Research and Development Centers Program, PR/Award Number R305R70004, as administered by the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education. However, the contents of the described report do not necessarily represent the positions or policies of the National Institute on Student Achievement, Curriculum, and Assessment or the National Institute on Early Childhood development, or the U.S. Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the federal government.

© 2001 CIERA. All rights reserved.