Wednesday, July 29, 2009
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
- 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.
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
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
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
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!