Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Gerona's Radical Change

These past three weeks have been devoted to Radical Humanism! Like Interpretivism, according to Burrell and Morgan (1979), radical humanism also flows out of German idealism and consequently both are considered subjectivist in orientation and share the notion that the “individual creates the world in which he lives” (p. 279). The large distinction between the two paradigms is the notion of understanding versus critique: the Interpretivist observes and seeks to understand while the radical humanist seeks to critique and change.

There are two main lines which critique may follow:
a) subjective idealist = the external world is created through the stream of ideas. (p. 278)
This is the projection of individual consciousness on the external world which does exist.

b) objective idealist = reality exists in spirit…absolute knowledge suggests that consciousness is spirit and the object of consciousness is itself.

Marx comes from the objective idealist tradition originally but took the ideas of Hegel in a different direction; towards the individual. Here is my story of ‘radical’ awakening in terms of not listening to the status-quo…

Now I have to admit that I have (now had) a deep seated bias against Marx. I grew up in the 1970s and early 1980s when the Cold War was raging and we were being told nuclear war could happen at any time. The doomsday clock (remember that?) was ticking down towards midnight. Then along came Gorbachov and in 1989 the Berlin Wall fell. So much for Marxism! Having never read Marx I just had been taught or learned to associate Communism with him and thus I basically summarily dismissed him as a theorist. Craib who was writing in the early 1990s mentions that one should not confuse the fall of Communism with the temptation to dismiss Marxist thought. Then I actually started being open to learning about what Marx actually wrote/expounded and gained a totally different appreciation for him as a theorist and seminal influencer of our thought systems today. This has been an important lesson for me to not be so closed-minded about something that I only know about through the statements of societies/organizations/individuals with agendas.

Next we are going into Radical Structuralism...I think Interpretivism really was the paradigm for me. Maybe there is something I can do with Hermeneutics and Garrison's Community of Inquiry model? Hummm...lot's to think about in the coming weeks.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Ah ha moment

I have come to the realization that perhaps I am worrying too much about a "Grand Paradigm" at this point in the course and my research. I have been reading Anfara and Mertz's Theoretical Frameworks in Qualitative Research by Sage Publications (2006). They state that theoretical frameworks can be found at three levels: grand, mid-range and explanatory (p. xxvii) and that can be applied to understanding phenomena. For some reason this gave me a bit of an "ah-ha" moment because I started thinking that there may be other frameworks we can use that are not tied expressly to the four super-structure (am I using that word correctly?) paradigms we are studying now. Many of the studies that are mentioned in the book resulted in articles, not doctoral theses, but they do discuss a variety of frameworks like Chaos and Complexity Theory and Liminality Theory for example.

So this got me thinking about how students have done theses on Dr. Michael Moore's "theory of transactional distance" and Dr. Randy Garrison's (et al) "Community of Inquiry" model. So ultimately, while we have to know the different streams of the paradigms, I am coming to understand that I can relax to some degree about slotting myself into one of the four dominant paradigms we are learning about. There are a plethora of theories out there from the social-sciences at different levels that may be useful to us as we narrow down our research topics. My understanding has changed now to the point where I will find a framework suited to my area of interest and not worry so much about which methods to use or which paradigm it is located in.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Doctoral Seminar update

It has been a couple of months since I have taken time to compose my thoughts on the doctoral program. We are on the third of four perspectives/paradigms. Thus far we have covered postivism/funtionalism, Interpretivism and now Radical Humanism. We have Radical Structuralism to cover after Christmas. I am still having some trouble with the material in the sense that it is difficult to get a consistent message on meanings. Now that I have some theoretical knowledge I am starting to read more about the role of theory on research projects (i.e., which comes first, the method or the paradigm?) and what do theses using a paradigmatic framework look like? I have one dissertation now that I am reading and will try to review others. I am also realizing that in studying a topic such as blended learning I will need to find an organization theory to work with. Hence I will review Burrell and Morgan's discussion of systems structure. Perhaps the upcoming Radical Structuralism readings will help guide me?

The course itself seems to be lacking in participation in the discussion forum. Some of us have speculated that it may be because the material is so dense that none of us are really confident in our answers or it could be that because it is a pass/fail situation there is sense that one would really have to be disengaged to fail. The result is that while some posts are very well thought out, there is not a regular dialogue developing.

On the positive side, I have had the opportunity to work closely with two of my peers from the Educational Technology stream on Interpretivism and that was very productive. Also, the workload is not too onerous. There is a lot of reading and re-reading but it is manageable.

On the programmatic note, I was very disappointed that my Educational Technology course was canceled this winter due to low enrollment. Qualitative Methods was also canceled. I find this troubling for three reasons. Firstly, what guarantee do we have that we can complete our courses in a timely manner? Secondly, as graduate seminar courses, shouldn't the numbers be small? What is wrong with a course with 6 people? Thirdly, one would think that rather than wholesale cancel the two courses students could be appraised of the situation and asked if they would be interested in switching to a different section. Now we have two classes canceled when perhaps there would have been enough students for at least one of them to have run. Anyway, I am disappointed at this point and am currently awaiting the information on next summer's session.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Paradigm reading, reading, reading

Although it has been a while since posting, I do not have much to report. I have been reading away with the different paradigms and having trouble sorting it all out. The Burrell and Morgan (1979) book was the last to arrive but by far the most helpful, next to Crotty. Until I read Burrell and Morgan last weekend all I was getting was a list of names of different thinkers and lots of different versions of information about ontology and epistemology complicated by different perspectives such as feminism and arts based research, etc. Burrell and Morgan provided an excellent framework to outline the basic 4 paradigms. First they discussed the nature of social science as a field, then assumptions about the nature of society. They then went on to outline the "extreme" ends of each of the two dimensions with views of social sciences as being either subjective or objective and society being either tied to regulation or radical change. Then the four paradigms are discussed as falling somewhere within the four areas of the matrix. FUNCTIONALISM is primarily objective and regulation. INTERPRETIVISM is subjective and regulation. RADICAL HUMANIST is subjective and interested in radical changes while RADICAL STRUCTURALISM is objective and radical.

Of course if we could all just place ourselves and others in the neat boxes things would be easy, or easier at least. But, no, all of these paradigm. Within Functionalism we see objectivism, social system theory, integrative theory and interactionism and social action theory. Interpretive contains hermeneutics, phenomenological sociology, phenomenology. Solipsim straddles both interpretive and radical humanism with French existentialism and Critical theory with anarchistic individualism on the outskirts of the box closest to the radical side of the equation. Finally radical structuralism contains contemporary Mediterranean marxism, conflict theory and russian social theory. I assume there are other forms of thought that could be itemized as well. Very confusing!

Our challenge now is to find two theorists for each of our groups. That is not easy with so much ambiguity still in place. Thankfully I have a great group! Hopefully we can work together to get this all sorted out.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Day 1 - Semester 2

OK it is the first day of the second term of the Ed D. Of course while today is the first day I, like many of my classmates no doubt, have been trying to do some advance reading for the course. The topic of philosophical frameworks is quite facinating and confusing. I am enjoying the Crotty book and when I compare that to Paul and Allan things start coming together slowly but surely.

In terms of what to pursue, I think I am still a pragmatist (but I am not 100% sure) based on the literature thus far. In any case, I have signed up for Group B which will pursue the Interpretivist perspective. It seems eclectic and I like the readings about constructed reality and the meaning of language. This is somewhat new to me so I am sure it will be an intriguing semester 2!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Between semester thoughts

Well it has been a week since the courses ended for the first semester. Some marks and feedback have been received and so far so good, which is a relief. It is reassuring to know one has not missed the boat in terms of the introductory level courses and now I have some level of confidence that I will be able to succeed in the rest of the course work.

Two of the books for my fall course have arrived. I started reading one and found it rather confusing. Each different perspective is only glazed over so it is difficult to get a thorough understanding of the material. That particular book then shows a series of studies and offers critiques from the different perspectives. That will hopefully make the concepts clearer in practice. The other book seems to offer a more in depth discussion of various philosophies so that should be very beneficial.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

First term almost over

It is the end of my first semester as a doctoral student. One course is completely finished and the feedback on the paper was very helpful and prepares me somewhat for future courses. This is the last week of the second course and I have handed in my second paper and am pretty much wrapped up the Pathfinder. Just today I was showing someone at work my pathfinder and the wiki we did on-site in Calgary. That, in addition to the work on the paper and the blog made me realize how much we actually did in the space of a month!

My focus now is on getting ready for the doctoral seminar course. I have ordered four of the books (well three plus the APA guide!) and hope to get reading over the next few weeks. I find I need time to let ideas sink in before writing or talking about them. In addition to doing some reading, I do hope to continue to use both my Pathfinder and my blog throughout the rest of the program.

And finally, as I was leaving the office today I ran into a colleague of mine who is just in the finishing stages of the Ed D. He is hoping to defend in November and was offering all kinds of tips. The most valuable thing was to know that he did it, or is almost done it! That is encouraging when only at the starting blocks.


Friday, August 7, 2009

The value of formative feedback

It is a rainy evening so what a great opportunity to stay in and just relax! Well, I shouldn't say relax because within the next week I have a paper and a pathfinder due!

This past week I shared my pathfinder with a peer and with the instructor and did the same with a draft of the paper for the educational technology course. This is such a good practice! First of all it gave me an 'artificial' deadline and this forced me to get thinking about the projects. That extra week gives time to refine and produce a better thought out product in each case. Secondly, while the items were being reviewed, it gave me time away from both projects so my mind could clear and when I looked at them again I was seeing them with fresh eyes. A third benefit of the peer review process is being able to look at someone else's work and provide feedback to them. I do this all the time for students but rarely for peers. This helps to develop our own ability to read critically, not with a view to diminishing any efforts of our peers but to helping them improve based on how it reads/looks from a different perspective.

So while it is good to work on items individually and have them 'peer reviewed', it is also good to actually work in a group to produce a work like we did in class this summer with our wikis. When I started my MBA in 1997 I initially hated the concept of group work. One of the best experiences of my life was a business plan produced for a local company. I was the oldest so I was named the 'leader' of the team. The other three members were a young lady in her 20's, a 20 something Physical Education graduate and a student from overseas. I have to admit I did not think we would gel just because we were all so different but, man, we rocked as a team. Our skills were very complimentary...one was very personable and did all the interviews and discussions, one was more laid back but always provided insight and quiet observations, one was a whiz with numbers and budgets, and the other loved doing all the detail work of editing. That was one of the most positive and fun projects in that whole program. So my point? It is good to work alone sometimes and it is good to work in a group. But even when you work alone, you need formative input on your work.

A former teacher of mine put it well when he said that there will always be different levels of performance and areas of strength but an evaluation should not just be a one-time summative one,, there should be opportunities to improve along the way. Therein lies the benefit of peer review and group work for me.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Last two weeks of summer course

It is the last two weeks of the semester and I am finding it difficult to get the last two items done. I think it may be a combination of being back at work and trying to study in addition to the pull of summer festivities. I am actually finding it hard to write my blended learning paper. The ideas just do not seem to be flowing.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Back Home

I have completed my first paper for the Orientation course and I think putting the references together took me longer than writing the paper. I really should have paid more attention during the workshop on RefWorks. I will have to get my head around that prior to the fall. Aside from the scholarship, it is interesting the kinds of things like APA, RefWorks, etc., that you have to learn along the way.

One deliverable I have this week is a draft of my pathfinder. I am finding that the most difficult assignment in the course due to the fact that I am so new to the research area. I don't have a very robust set of resources at this point and am not sure if I will be able to present a very comprehensive overview at this point. Anyway, I will plug away at it and await feedback.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Day 14 - the rest of the way

I had some time to think over the weekend and I think I will only take one course this fall. That will give me time to read, think and write and not have to rush things.

Only three more deliverables for this first round of courses: a paper, pathfinder and a paper for the other course. The timelines are quite reasonable so I think I will be fine.

It is sad the on-site section is over for this year but I want to see everyone next summer again.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Day 12 - research question to date

The questions I am trying to answer in this initial literature review paper are:
1) How is blended learning defined?
2) What are the different types of blended learning?
3) Where has blended learning been successfully implemented on an institutional basis?
4) What are the supports (for students, faculty and administrators) necessary in order to implement blended learning on an institutional basis?

In terms of the broader research problem, I am trying to understand what blended learning models work in what specific contexts so that predictions and recommendations for deploying institutional blended learning initiatives.

“Educational Technology is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources.” Januszewski and Molenda (2008).

The convergence of technology and education has been happening for roughly a hundred years. With each innovation the traditional classifications of distance and on-campus courses are blurring and blended educational opportunities and becoming more feasible. Putting it simply, blended learning represents a mixing of the two extremes of distance education and on campus courses. Ultimately the problem to be answered through my research is how can institutions best rollout blended learning initiatives?

This educational technology investigation centers on the AECT domain of management in the sense of managing the creation of an institutional vision for blended learning, putting support structures in place to successfully deploy blended learning and forming an environment where faculty and instructional designers can create and use media and other forms of technology-enabled learning to better assist students. What does an institution need to do to create an environment to successfully implement a blended learning initiative?


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Day 11 - the right stream

Well this morning our specialization coordinator gave a brilliant and timely presentation about the educational technology stream. A few of us in either ed tech or leadership have been wondering if we ended up choosing the right stream and I know I did.

And, whew, the m-learning presentation is done! I was quite lucky to have worked with three 'second' year students and one of my fellow 'newbies'. I think their maturity as doctoral students and our shared effort made both the revision of the wiki and the presentation itself go well. Just like in the MBA, today reminded me of how a group of 5 people can come together with very different skills and yet each contribute something to make a great product. Happily one of the guys in the group, the other 'newbie' and I have agreed to review each others papers so that is nice.

At the end of the day we had the opportunity to listen to Dr. Yaniv talk about his work in SL. What stays with me from today is not any overt 'bling' but the fact that he sat and talked with us for about 30 minutes about his thoughts and philosophy prior to showing us what he was trying to do in the SL environment. The attention we all paid to him was proof to me that someone with a good message and powerful, if somewhat understated, presence can captivate an audience.

Tomorrow I will post my updated research question and then I will have to be off-line until Sunday due to travel and time zone differences.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Day 10 - Only two days left on-site

In some ways the past two weeks have been very long and yet paradoxically very short. Today we had a guest speaker who talked about her candidacy paper. I am still too early into the course work stage to be really focused on the expectations at the candidacy stage of the program but it was interesting to hear how she organized her thoughts and about some of the personal issues she had at the time. She did it and that is inspiring!

The Geo-everything presentation was quite good. I learned about geo-caching and augmented reality. The benefits of these kinds of sessions is that it is really hard to keep up on all the "stuff" that is out there so having peers with different areas of expertise is great.

We also attended a presentation in Second Life. I continue to be underwhelmed (with the environment and not the presenter). I think this environment has great potential for some fields like Engineering and Bio-sciences as well as language but I just find it cumbersome. At this stage, the user needs a lengthy orientation before being able to really embrace "in world" life and maneuvers. Mostly I find myself trying to catch up to others and then wondering why I bothered. Anyway, it is an evolving technology so improvements and greater familiarity will come in time.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Day 9 - intellectual safari

Well it was an interesting day! Saw a terrific presentation from the Grassroots video team so I will drop in on the site after I blog a bit and leave some comments there specific to the presentation.

Our class was privileged to hear from Dr. Randy Garrison this afternoon. The presentation centered on the Community of Inquiry (COI) model and the results of a recent study he conducted. I first read about the COI in my Masters program and still think it has an intuitive appeal. The social, cognitive and teaching presences are all key to any post secondary learning experience and it was interesting today to see that the three intersecting circles are not static but will change overtime in a course. There also may be an inevitability to the fact that the social presence is more predominant at the start of a class whereas the cognitive presence increases over time, as does teacher presence. I hope to use the COI when doing my dissertation work. I am particularly interested in the faculty development side of the equation.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Day 8 - the start of week 2

Two things for the start of week 2!
1) Well based on some reading over the past week I found that I have to refine my working definition of educational technology:

Educational technology is any human-made tool or process used in a responsible manner to assist learners in mastering the knowledge and skills of their field such that they can apply that mastery.

2) I enjoyed tremendously the presentation today by Dr. Susan Crichton because it demonstrated how evolving technology can not only simplify the work of the researcher in some ways but result in richer data that captures more than just the words of the participants but their intonation, tone, body language, etc. Of course the researcher would have to be comfortable using cameras, etc., or have access to someone who could do this work.

Aside from the valuable perspective on research, the emphasis at the outset of the presentation on 'spiritual' considerations like a simple, uncluttered life was timely as we all confront how to deal with the paradoxes of striving for simplicity while simultaneously juggling all our complex roles in life.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Day 7 - Thoughts on the readings

Some thoughts on this week's readings in an attempt to interalize them but writing about them...I am finding that Creswell (2009) is a valuable resource as we start to conceptualize our research project. As I was reading his explanations of the worldviews, strategies and specific methods I immediately began trying to categorize or label myself. (Not sure if this is an inherently good or bad thing yet!) Of the world views presented, the pragmatic was the most intuitively appealing to me. Often this prgarmatic view leads researchers into mixed methods studies, which again is something that intuitively appeals to me. I guess I appreciate trying to have the best of both worlds! Why else would I want to pursue blended learning as a dissertation topic?

While it is too early to state any research methods specifically, I would think transformative mixed methods might be appropriate since I am considering using the Garrison, Anderson and Archer(2001) Community of Inquiry model as a framework for my study. Related to this, the chapter on mixed methods research planning brought up useful concepts to consider in planning including the timing, weighting, mixing and the fit of theory into the planned research process.

Aside from helping me conceptualize what may be my approach to the dissertation, I found Creswell offered many practical tips to new researchers including possible outlines or models to follow for different stages of the project as well as advice, such as to write daily if possible.

Januszewski and Molenda (2008) has been resonating with me as well but on a more conceptual level. We have already discussed our respective definitions of Educational Technology but after reading Chapter 7 I was forced to re-think one of my basic assumptions. Januszewski and Molenda assert that human "made processes that systematically apply scientific knowledge can be viewed as technological processes." (p.197) I have always conceptualized technological as something external to the human; a physical tool that was conceptualized by the mind but became a tangible product, not a set of processes.

Johnston (1987) is quoted in Januszewski and Molenda as saying "We cannot explore the potential of a medium indpendent of the programming being carried out on it." These are wise words as we explore different media trends this coming week in the form of m-learning, grassroots video and geo-everything. The ASSURE model presented on p. 209 may prove useful to us in these wiki projects and beyond it determining when and how to use new and existing media.

Finally, something that I have been thinking and talking about a fair bit this week are the notions of management versus leadership and how, really, an organization or unit needs both. The authors of Chapter 6 do a good job of discussing management in the context of educational technology and highlight the need for change management, quality, strategic planning and vision in the imlementation of educational technology projects and initiatives. Perhaps it is because of my managment studies background and the fact that I am currently managing technology projects that I found this chapter quite valuable.

So that is it for today! Looking forward to the start of week 2 tomorrow.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Day 6 - Reflections on Guest Speakers

I wanted to wait for the end of the week before committing thoughts to hypertext on our speakers this week. Overall I found the array of speakers and topics quite amazing and intellectually stimulating.

Dr. Gail Kopp's work, as I mentioned earlier this week, demonstrated for me a critical link between knowing the literature in a field, testing the assumptions based on an evolving technology, and then critically adding to the field of knowledge.

Dr. Qing Li's presentation on enactivism was actually my favourite this week! The whole concept of whether enactivism was a learning theory or a philospohical world view was important for me because as new doctoral students we need to understand our own perpectives and lenses with regards to both philosopical views and learning theories and how distinguish which is which.

Dr. Sharon Fiesen and Dr. Michele Jacob's presentation introduced me to the concept of Design-based research and I learned it is basically Action Research. The key 'take away' point for me from this presentation is the importance of having a shared vision for technology use among the different stakeholders. Educational technology research and practice are inextricably linked with strategic leadership and project management skills.

Dr. Jennifer Lock presented her work on creating a learning community for pre-service teachers. While I find the exploration of creating, managing and sustaining online learner communities facinating, especially with the added international component, I really enjoyed the brief discussion on ethics related to the research. The fact that Dr. Lock was studying her own students (albeit after their marks where in), the sensitive nature of some of the topics such as bullying and the experiences of students prior to coming to Canada could very well cause stress on the participants through the nature of the topics and the students own experiences compounded by the fact that their thoughts on these topics would be captured, read and reported on. It flagged a few points that I will remeber as I develop my own research agenda.

I am looking forward to next week's speakers and hope to learn as much as I did this first week.



Friday, July 17, 2009

Day 5 - Refining the topic

The traditional lines of distinction between distance education and on campus courses are blurring largely due to the proliferation of educational technologies such as LMSs and various social networking tools that can be used in both modes. Between the two extremes of fully distance and fully on-campus, a new type of blended course has emerged. In this paper I will conduct a literature review on the state of the field of blended learning and summarize best practices in the field at this point. Ideally I would like to use the information to make recommendations on how my institution can deploy a blended learning strategy.

The questions I am trying to answer are:
1) What are the different types of blended learning?
2) Are there accepted best practices for developing a blended learning strategy?
3) What can I recommend for my institution regarding blended learning.

Please help with thoughts...


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Day 4 Doctoral attrition rates, etc.

Ok it is only day 4 and here I am talking about doctoral attrition rates! Let me explain...I have decided to pursue the idea of doctoral attrition as the subject of my paper for the orientation course. I'm mentioning this because, although I have only just started reading on the subject, some of this information may be of interest to my peers in the program.
  • Only about 50% of those accepted into doctoral programs finish.
  • Exact statistics are difficult to find becuase many universities do not publish records related to students who withdraw from their programs.
  • Women and minorities are more likely to withdraw from a doctoral program than men.
  • The majority of those that withdraw do so at the dissertation stage, not at the course phase.
  • Completion rates are higher in the sciences than in the humanities.
  • It can take some students years to recover their confidence after making the decision to withdraw from doctoral studies.
  • The literature points out that in the past the view was that attrition in higher level degrees was to be expected but now many universities are doing more to manage the relationships with students and keep them on track with their programs via different means.
The point that really resonates with me is that most students do fine in their courses but it is the disseration stage when they are most in danger of leaving their programs. Knowing that might help us be prepared to deal with the frustrations at that stage of the program. I think we are all off to a good start in terms of forming our own support community, starting our relationships with our supervisors and with the GDER office. All three of these will be critical to our persistence in the next 4 plus years.

And now for something completely different! For the Educational Technology course, I am going to pursue the topic of blended learning. Specifically, educational technology is transforming what can be done in the classroom and outside of it. My paper will contain a literature review to summarize the state of the field and document current best practices. I will give this more thought tonight and try to think of a research question to guide the paper.

What a beautiful, sunny evening and, bonus, it is almost Friday!


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Day 3 - hump day

So it is day 3 of the program and I have to say it feels like it has been more than three days. I am finding myself in a comfortable routine of classes during the day, a workout, dinner and then online activities and readings. And as a treat I have been ending the day at the Black Lounge with my new peers for beers. In terms of looking ahead beyond the time here in Calgary, I am going to try to develop a similar structure to approach my studies in the fall when working and studying. I plan to spend 2-3 evenings online and/or researching and reading from say, 7-10 and then one day on the weekend. I am hoping that setting some parameters will ensure that I still have a bit of a life!

So I have to say I am somewhat amused by the conversations regarding what we should put in the blog and what we should put in the discussion. We are the leaders in the field so we should be able to figure this out or research best practices in each of the areas. Based on my understanding of discussion forums they are exactly that; a venue for dialogue and discussion. This implies a two-way interaction of someone posting an answer to a question and critiquing or adding in some way the response. I understand blogs to be more reflective in nature more along the lines of personal journals or ways to update peers on progress in certain areas as news arises. I think Dr. Jacobsen has wisely left it to us to figure out how we use the tools. There is certainly nothing wrong with posting the same content to both but it does seem somewhat redundant.

This leads me to my next reflection, which is about the topic of proprietary tools like Blackboard versus open source ones like Blogger, etc. I think as educators it is wise to use freeware where ever possible. The only problem is that we have no guarantee that many of the currently free apps will remain so in future, that they will not radically change, or that companies like Facebook will even exist in a year or two. For many institutions it is imperative they have some commerically procured software that offers a certain guarantee in terms of quality of service and security and regular upgrades to ensure an acceptable level of service to students. So a combination of the two is likely what will work for many insitutions.

Finally, and I did mention this in a discussion forum post, I find it amusing that many of us inEd Tech considered the Leadership stream and vice-versa. From what I learned this week so far, all of us new doctoral students are involved in leadership and educational technology decisions to some degree in our roles. So what's in a stream anyway?


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Day 2's reflections

Looking back on today I have to say that the presentation by Dr. Kopp was an excellent demonstration on how to take an existing piece of scholarly literature and critically analyze it as well as use it to really think about in terms of use of a particular technology. Tying all the competencies doctors should have to the different types of tools they can practice with was very effective and made a strong case for the use of Virtual Patients. This is the kind of reaseach that can have really practical applications. I assume the next step would be to actually get feedback from some medical students on their expereinces with the different types of 'patients'.

The other thing that has been on my mind lately is the whole notion of learning and knowlege acquisiton. The Januszewski and Molenda (2008) book, specifically Chapter 2, discusses the different trends in terms of pedagogical theories and reviews the salient aspects of the 'big three' of behaviourism, cognitivism, and constructivism. While behaviourism is definitely out of favour these days, I cannot help but think that the people who were the products of the behaviourist -era days were the innovative people who put a man on the moon and who invented educational technology (computers, etc.)! Now I am not saying that the innovation was a result of behaviourist learning but rather that each generation finds its own way to express genius and in some ways succeed despite 'the system'. When I think about how knowlege has been transmitted from generation to generation, the most long-lasting method is most likely the notion of apprenticeship whereby a young person was taken under the wing of a master of the trade or knowledge area and learned everything there was to know and in turn transferred that on. That learning was most likely done by watching the master and using the tools of the trade. So can we expand our educational technology definition to include a stick used to write in the sand? A compas to show someone how to steer a ship? A pottery wheel to show someone how to make a bowl? My point is that in some respects any/all technology can be educational technology depending on the situation. Feel free to argue with me on that!

Finally, formal education with one teacher and several students in a classroom is a relatively new phenomenon in historical terms. From what we have discussed thus far in the program, I would liken the relationship of the supervisor and the doctoral candidate to that one-on-one apprenticeship model where there is a guide until such time as we are ready to be out on our own.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Day 1 of the Doctor of Ed program

Well today is the first day of my Ed D (or Doctor of Education program). In some ways it is quite ironic that I am pursuing Educational Technology because I did not send my first e-mail until 1997 when I got back from teaching overseas and had totally missed the rise of the Internet except for articles in the popular press. Actually that first e-mail was quite funny because the IT person who created my account said it was very important to have everything lower case and no punctuation...so I wrote my first e-mail to a friend of mine in all lower case letters with no punctuation. That person quickly pointed out that the IT person meant no caps or punctuation in the e-mail ADDRESS, not in the content of the e-mail! After that somewhat inauspicious introduction to the Internet and online communication, I took a couple of IT strategy courses during the MBA and really enjoyed them.

A couple of years after the MBA I became a manager in the course design and development section of a unit at Memorial University called Distance Education and Learning Technologies. That is when I really became exposed to educational technology on both the instructional design side and the media production side. Since I was doing so much learning anyway I decided to do a second Masters. This one was online and forced me to use many educational technology tools. Really, since I was managing the course development side of the shop I felt I should know what students might be experiencing.

It has been almost 2 years since my last course so it will take some discipline to get back into the student mode. I feel ready to take on this 'terminal degree' as one of my US colleagues calls it. I have always loved learning and I don't think I will feel satisfied with myself until I complete this doctoral program.

Of course at day 1 it is hard to say what the next weeks, months and years will hold but I invite anyone interested to follow me on my journey!