SoTL Adventure Time!

Conference Proposal, MAET Year 1, Research, Scholarship of Teaching & Learning

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For my Scholarship of Teaching and Learning adventure, I chose to work smarter not harder. I was looking for research to support and give structure to our conference proposal, which is based on the need for teachers to have basic iPad professional development before implementing their use in the classroom. I was genuinely interested to find out if there has been any research done on such a relatively new topic and what the results of potential studies were. It seems like so many schools including my own are jumping on the iPad bandwagon and there are so many different issues and variables to research about using this tool for education. I know my conference group shared my frustration with lack of iPad training but I was looking forward to know whether any real research has been documented. My group and I discussed at length how we would go about tackling such a potentially expansive topic and we really struggled to find a focus for our research.

After our workshop on library resources by the librarian Jill Morningstar, I began searching in the recommended databases. I promptly was met with zero results or results that were not relevant. Our conference group decided quickly that it would be best to meet with Jill right away before we continued our already frustrating research individually. We sent her a tweet asking whether she might be able to meet the following day and she responded right away. I revealed myself as a MSU library novice when Kate said “Ask her to reserve a room for us” and I replied “Are you sure we don’t have to do that ourselves?” Kate kindly explained that this was part of the librarian’s job so I tweeted the request and Jill replied with the room to meet in. When we met we were able to present her with our conference proposal idea and explain that we were looking for information dealing with this technology frustration due to lack of professional development or information supporting that technology professional development led to more successful programs.

Jill was an amazing facilitator. She explained that our topic is so new (and it takes about a year for research to get published) that we would probably need to look for something in a journal, which is able to address more freshly pressed topics. She explained that we should try beginning our research in the Education Full-Text database as it sometimes seems to produce more current research than the ERIC database. She helped us find and tweak the right successful combination of key words that yielded the most relevant research. We began the search with keywords like “iPads” and “frustration” but found the best results when we focused on “professional development” and “technology”. As someone who has not formally researched in a while, this was a hugely helpful process that I would absolutely use again. The one hour we spent with Jill definitely made a difference in the success or failure of our research. After a while, we were able to successfully find multiple articles relevant to our conference proposal topic on our own. As a person who is not doing scholarly research on a regular basis, the refresher on how to academically research well was much needed and our small group session with Jill really helped me internalize the process. I would not hesitate to contact the library for help with research again and in the future plan to focus on using more academic research to support some of my professional pursuits. The articles that I found related to our topic follow with a brief annotation.

References

Robertson, H.-J. (2003). Recycled Promises. Phi Delta Kappan, 84(5), 414–415.

 Recycled Promises discusses the hype surrounding technology with research focusing on Canadian schools and specifically the Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow initiative in the 1990’s. The article examines how technology was deemed the answer to every problem in education and how as a result school districts invested deeply in technology initiatives. However, the author argues that research has proven that just putting technology into classrooms does not mean it will affect student achievement. She also offers evidence that many smoke and mirror reports by technology companies were used to imply otherwise. The article reports that there has been a rise and fall of technocentrism in the last decade and it has now become clear that technology alone is not the answer to successful schools and students. The article concludes with the argument that while business is business, schools supported by taxpayers should not be mislead into investing in a false product whose effectiveness is not research based.

This article is relatively short and with noticeably less references than many of the other sources that appear in my bibliography. The article’s publication date is much older than the others included my bibliography. The goal of this source is to inform us that technology companies have misled people to believe that there is a relationship between student achievement and technology when there is no evidence to support the claim.

Reading this article has reinforced my belief that without training and purpose, technology implementation in schools results in frustration and failure. The fascinating thing I found about this article is that I can apply this relatively out of date information speaking about desktop computer technology initiatives to current day practices with tablet and laptop technology initiatives. The Larry Cuban quote from this article “…there have been no advances…. that can be confidently attributed to broader access to computers…” can directly relate to the work done by James Paul Gee in 2013 about the digital participation gap (Robertson, 2003, p. 415). I thought it was really interesting the point about technology being viewed as a symbol of reform and change even twenty years ago but that it does not add up necessarily in the end. Reading this article helped connect my thoughts on the topic to supported research.

Schrum, L., & Levin, B. (2013). Lessons Learned from Exemplary Schools. TechTrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning, 57(1),     38–42. Retrieved from 10.1007/s11528-012-0629-6

This article discusses successful technology integration in a study based on eight exemplary technology-using schools. The study discovered that leadership practices and professional development were the most influential factors in implementing a successful technology initiative. This research found that there are six general categories of barriers to successful technology integration: resources, institution, subject culture, attitudes and beliefs, knowledge and skills, and assessment. In many of these exemplary schools a culture of sharing, exploration, risk-taking and common vision is tied to the professional development and leadership that leads to a successfully integrated technology initiative. Many teachers know what they need to learn and pursue that knowledge on their own so they can share what they have learned with others. Overall, when administration acknowledges teachers as professionals and includes them in the development and preparation of their professional development, teachers are more likely to learn and share their learning with others.

This article is a very current article published in 2013. This article includes many in-text citations throughout and is supported by a multitude of references. This research was conducted to find out what exemplary technology-using schools were doing to determine whether there were     common themes that other schools can use as a model. The author makes clear that these strategies for success are meant to provide others a goal to work towards to provide successful and innovative education for all.

Lessons Learned from Exemplary Schools has given me some concrete evidence that teachers should be involved in their own professional development choices and given input on the technology initiatives in their building. I think it was one of the most helpful resources that I found in my own individual research because it gave the actual evidence to support and a model of a successful technology-using school. Now I can actually argue that no school-wide technology program should be implemented without teacher input, teacher guided professional development and unified vision for that technology between staff, administration and shareholders because it is indeed supported by research. This article also reinforced the idea that teachers are very pro-active and if you ask them the kind of professional development they want, they will tell you what they need. I am looking forward to including this research as a key part of our conference proposal because it does an excellent job describing the support involved on the teacher and administration side of implementing a successfully technology initiative.

Walker, A., Recker, M., Ye, L., Robertshaw, M., Sellers, L., & Leary, H. (2012). Comparing technology-related teacher professional development          designs: a multilevel study of teacher and student impacts. Educational Technology Research & Development, 60(3), 421–444. Retrieved from 10.1007/s11423-012-9243-8

This article is based on a study of two schools implementing professional development programs for teachers with two different technology focuses. The first school focused on professional development based on incorporating technology with pedagogy teachers were already using. The second school focused on professional development based on incorporating technology with new pedagogy specifically Problem Based Learning. Research showed that both schools had significant gains in teacher skills, technology integration and knowledge through the professional development given, demonstrating that when teachers have ownership of their skills they are more likely to use what they have learned. The data suggested a shift towards more student-centered learning practices and that professional development exploring a specific pedagogy to align with content and technology may be more effective than professional development focused on teacher chosen pedagogies.

This article is one of the only studies in my bibliography with data including teacher surveys, web usage data and student surveys in addition to a vast array of references. The study also included a wide sampling of schools, teachers and students. The article has a very current publication date. The goal of this study was to examine the links between teacher professional development, classroom practices and impact on students, which are addressed in the conclusion. This study was based on a realization of the lack of data regarding what teachers learn from professional development and how it impacts student learning.

I thought that this was a valuable resource as this study helped relate our conference proposal topic with the TPACK theory. It supports the idea echoed in our conference proposal that any professional development can improve teacher’s knowledge and skills and has a positive impact on student achievement. It expanded my thinking about TPACK in suggesting that choosing your own pedagogy to align with technology and content may not be as effective as exploring a specific pedagogy (i.e. PBL) aligned with technology and content. This finding prompts me to look for more related research on professional development focusing on a specific pedagogy and technology and its effects on student achievement.

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