As we move through the teacher research process with our Digital Learning Collaborative Cohort 2 participants, I’ll be working on my own teacher research project alongside them.  We’re using the text “The Reflective Educator’s Guide to Teacher Research” as our text to help us walk through the process. We’ll all be sharing our research progress on the SVVSD Instructional Technology Blog. Join us if you like by posting your wondering here.

One of the first things we’re working through is how to refine our passions and wonderings into a question that will lead to a research question.  In my role as a district instructional technologist, I’m passionate about helping teachers and students explore technology as a tool to both make meaning of the world and to demonstrate their understanding of the world they live in. I’m interested in exploring the intersection of teaching strategies within the context of our current educational system. As I mentioned in my previous post, I want to look at who is doing the “doing” when it comes to technology use in classrooms. Is it the teacher? Students? A combination of both? And what difference does that make in terms of educational outcomes and student engagement?

I think to get started, I want to spend some time looking at the cultural cues that might influence how we believe technology should be used in education.  In the past several years, I’ve been noticing a change in what I see as I open the typical EdTech Magazine. When I look at the advertisements that promote the “latest and greatest” products, I’m noticing a couple of things:

  • There are far more advertisements that illustrate what teachers are doing with technology than what students are doing with technology.
  • When students are shown using technology, it is more often an activity at the lowest levels of Bloom’s through an automated learning/intervention system or by using a student response system such as a “clicker”

How do these types of advertisements influence how we see technology as an instructional tool? Or are they just an indication of our current state of education?

For the next couple of months, I’m going to spend time examining the advertisements and articles in several EdTech periodicals and see if the data I collect is useful. Many of the regular periodicals are available in a digital format – eSchoolNews, Tech&Learning, ISTE’s Learning and Leading – I think I’ll start with those to see what I find.

I want to take note of the educational process being supported (assessment, teacher led instruction, individualized intervention, student media creation, research, etc) and examine what level of student interaction and engagement is supported by the tool. What are the advertisements and articles saying about what we value (or perhaps more accurately what we’re being told to value)  in education today?

I don’t know if this wondering is going to be terribly useful in terms of getting me to the point where I think I want my research project to take me, but I’m curious enough to want to spend time exploring my thoughts and sharing them here over the next couple of months.

What thoughts and feedback can you give me as I start my exploring my wondering?

2 Responses to “Teacher Research: I’m wondering”
  1. Michelle, I see the exact same types of advertising that you see. Additionally, when I go to ed tech conferences, guess which vendors have the biggest booths? Guess which types of vendors are there in greatest number? I think one reason for this is that the majority of those with purchasing power/budget authority are administrators who are not in the classroom. They are the ones responsible for security in the district or analyzing data and achievement. The loudest voices from vendors are those who over-exaggerate the “dangers of the internet” so they can plug their internet filtering tools. The next loudest voices are the ones you describe above- clickers or online assessment tools that are not much more than skill & drill and most definitely lower level thinking skills.

    I see two issues here: 1) many admin with budget authority are not themselves using the tools that provide students opportunities to collaborate, create, analyze, etc. It’s easy to say no to something you’ve never used and dismiss it as frivolous or not worthy of academic attention. 2) Tools that provide easy data seem like the better option, even though we know they’re not.

    I look forward to hearing more about the research you all are doing and what you find!

  2. [...] The homework for the team leaders this month was to start thinking through possible questions. Michelle and I are eating our own dog food – we’ll be trying to conduct our own [...]

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