Saturday, July 25, 2009

Conceptualizing the Literature Review

Thank you to the group that provided feedback on my research ideas yesterday: Jean, Bob & Stephen! I really appreciated your comments and questions. As a result I made some editing changes to improve clarity and designed a concept map. Jean recommended a great open source program called Visual Understanding Environment (VUE) - that I was easily able to download and use right away! Constructing the concept map allowed me to recognize the areas that will likely be beyond the scope of the current literature review I'm working on and that I will need to incorporate into the dissertation. These areas are in blue on the concept map. Simply click on the concept map to see it clearly and let me know if you have any further comments or suggestions.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Preparing for Candidacy

A post candidacy student provided great tips in preparing for the candidacy exam and oral presentation:
-There’s no really good time for candidacy but it is helpful to know how you learn and write best before hand
-Become comfortable with endnote (or other reference software) early on in your program to keep resources organized
-Review current research articles of supervisory committee
-Pay close attention to the questions the supervisory committee asks when you meet informally
-Go back to original theory (ie. Papert, Vygotsky) & read original sources to make your own interpretations

Oral Exam:
-Review all the questions from the supervisory committee and formulate responses for each as they may be discussed during the oral exam
-During the oral exam, don’t review everything from your paper – the committee already read it
-10 minutes for a presentation; can include slides (chance to show what more you know/learned; expand on ideas from your paper)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Grassroots Video and Research

...some thoughts about grassroots video provoked by a presentation today.

Digital communications have provided researchers with a plethora of “public spaces in which marginalized people’s narratives can be heard” with multiple points of contact available. I suspect with the new digital (public) spaces afforded by the availability of technology today, we are increasingly experiencing a shift from researcher or individual control to shared control, where the audience, spectator, participant or community at large has significant influence and voice on the impact of narrative inquiry. It is this shared control that delivers the narrative or message to those who need to hear it. I believe we should ask the question, how can the audience co-participate or share in public spaces in which marginalized people’s narratives can be heard even those who normally do not want to hear them?

The researcher needs to consider how the audience can play a significant role in contributing to collective action or participate in social change. Using the example of a YouTube video, personally, I will immediately view a YouTube video highly recommended by someone I know. For example, every time an audience member views a video clip, provides a review of the clip, emails the clip (or link) to someone else with a personal endorsement, discusses the clip with others in a social networking site, or tags the clip - it is the audience that shares in the voice with the researcher and it is the audience that engages and contributes to social change by networking with others and making connections. Hence, Chase (2008) observes that “we need to think more broadly about whom we write for and speak to – and how we do so” (p.84).

Chase, S. (2008). Narrative Inquiry: Multiple Lenses, Approaches, Voices. In Collecting and Interpreting Qualitative Materials. N. K. Denzin, & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, Inc

Ethical Considerations

What do you think is the epistemological concerns of the University of Calgary regarding doing research with human subjects?

Dr. Janice Dicken, the chair of the conjoint faculties research ethics board, describes the importance for the University is to ensure researchers are following ethical standards in an interview conducted by Natalie St-Denis, October 28, 2005. There is a risk of losing funding for the whole university from the three major Canadian granting agencies (SSHRC, NSERC, CIHR), if a proper system is not in place to review all research for those who have current University of Calgary affiliation (i.e. student, faculty, staff). The Conjoint Faculties Research Ethics board (CFREB) is charged with reviewing ethics applications in education and is responsible for ensuring the Tri-Council Policy Statement guidelines, created by the three major granting agencies, are met. In regards to doing research with human subjects, the University of Calgary is concerned with meeting high ethical standards to protect the participants in research studies through appropriate ethical clearance and to foster a community of researchers whom take responsibility for compliance to ethical standards.

What are their main concerns in term of informed consent; harm to informants; representation and permission to publish; confidentiality and anonymity; ownership of data?
Prior to collecting any data, the researcher needs to have ethics certification; otherwise the data collected cannot be used. It is also necessary to receive ethics approval from school jurisdictions if the research involves participants in a school system. The main concerns regarding ethics applications as outlined in the “Information to Help Applicants” document from the CFREB include:

Informed Consent – The researcher needs to create a participant consent form for ethics approval which includes the design and methodology of the research in simple language and terms to ensure the consent process is free, informed, voluntary and an ongoing process that allows for participant withdrawal at anytime. If research includes children, then parents/guardians also need to provide consent. It is recommended to use a series of checkboxes (I agree to … and I disagree to…) to delineate the choices for participation. The Tri-Council Policy (2008) recognizes that “qualitative researchers use a range of consent procedures, including oral consent, field notes, and other strategies such as recording (audio or video, or other electronic means) for documenting the consent process. Evidence of consent may also be via completed survey questionnaires (in person, by mail or by email or other electronic means)” (p.113).

Harm to informants – The consent form also needs to include information about the potential risks for participants choosing to participate in the research. The researcher should explicitly state, “There is no known risk associated with your participation in this research” if this is the case. Otherwise, the researcher needs to anticipate the estimation of risk for the potential participants which should be no greater than what would be expected or encountered in everyday life. The CFREB members conduct a face-to-face meeting to discuss any applications that pose more that a minimal risk to participants and the researcher needs to make arrangements for participants to receive assistance to deal with any major negative effects.

Representation and Permission to Publish – The researcher needs to anticipate how the research will be represented in advance and request appropriate permissions from the participants. For example, if using photographs, the participants will need to have a choice of either being photographed for publishing purposes or not being photographed. Pink (2007) notes, “ethnographers have to make choices regarding if and how video footage will be incorporated into the publication of research” (p.56). Pink(2007) also reminds us the moral right of the researcher could be questioned if images are produced covertly (p.55). I believe it is important to receive consent from participants explicitly for purposes of publication when intending to use photographs or video for representation purposes in the public domain.

Confidentiality and Anonymity – Confidentiality is defined as the “obligation of an individual or organization to safeguard information entrusted to it by another” by the Tri-Council (2008, p.44). It is critical the researcher considers issues of confidentiality and anonymity (information is stripped of identifiers) during collection of raw data and in writing up final results. It is the responsibility of the researcher to describe the “extent to which privacy and confidentiality will be protected (p.6). For example, if anonymity is optional, the consent form needs to include provision for the participant to indicate if his/her name can be used or if a pseudonym is preferred.

Ownership of Data – The ethics application needs to include specific details about the security of data, who will have access to the data and plans for storage/disposal and retention of the data. Information about what happens to data if participants decide to withdraw from the study also needs to be included in the application. Pink (2007) also advises researchers, “to clarify rights of use and ownership of video and photographic images before their production” (p.59).

What would be the main decisions/considerations about the use of visual methods that would need to be made prior submitting a research project for ethics review?

Prior to submitting a research project for ethics review it is necessary to consider the appropriateness of how visual methods will be used. For example, visual methods could be used for representations or for processes during the research. Participants may examine and react to visual representations or may even collaborate in the production of visual representations; participants may be openly (overtly) aware of the use of visual methods or unaware in the context of public photography. Pink (2007) suggests, researchers should think through the implications of using visual methods and anticipate that visuals will be invested with different meanings (p.43). The researcher can employ a reflexive approach in making sound decisions about the use of visual methods in research by considering the context, the participants, social and cultural implications, and practical and technical issues.

(2008). Draft 2nd Edition of the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans. Interagency Advisory Panel on Research Ethics, Ottawa.

Pink, S. (2007). Doing Visual Ethnography (2 ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Literature Review Intent Revised

Thank you to all those that provided feedback! My revised purpose statement is:
The purpose of this paper is to review the literature discussing the essential conditions for curriculum integration of technology in K-12 schools.

Questions for research may include:
· How can a school district strengthen support for principals in effectively leading 21st century schools?
· How can a school district develop leadership networks and professional communities as contexts for supporting technology rich learning environments?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Literature Review Intent

This may change by tomorrow...

I welcome your questions/comments regarding the proposed statements I'm considering for my literature review.

  1. The intent of this paper is to review the literature discussing the necessary supports which strengthen the integration of technology in K-12 schools.
  2. The purpose of this paper is to discuss the factors which contribute towards the cultivation of technology-rich learning environments.
  3. This paper will review the literature on the factors which contribute to effective integration of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) in K-12 schools.
  4. The purpose of this paper is to explore how schools and districts can become learning organizations for technology-embedded instructional improvements.

In the literature review I will attempt to identify a gap in the area of educational technology support for principals. Potential research questions: How can a school district strengthen support for principals in effectively leading 21st century schools? How can a school district develop leadership networks and professional communities as contexts for supporting technology rich learning environments?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


“All doing is knowing and all knowing is doing” (Maturana & Varela, 1987, p. 27) is a slogan exemplifying enactivism, a new philosophical world view.

I was particularly interested in Dr. Qing Li’s presentation today about enactivism and the article she shared with the class. I was drawn to the reciprocal relationship implied with enactivism. However, I’m wrestling with comparing enactivism with my understanding of constructivism.

In the article, the authors claim that enactivism means that “our mind, body, and the world are inseparable.” In addition, one of the criticisms of constructivism is that “constructivism is concerned only with cognitive knowledge. It does not explain unformulated or subconscious knowledge, it does not consider how things might be known intuitively or instinctively, and it does not consider how emotions are constructed or their role in learning” (Begg, 2000, p.2). Is it really true that constructivism is only concerned with cognitive knowledge?

In the article, objectivist, constructivist and enactivist assumptions are compared not to suggest one should be replaced by the other; but to provide a different lens to look through. Always referring to myself as a constructivist I was a surprised by the dualism comparison. I can’t say that I considered constructivists believing in a “knower vs. known” dichotomy and separating the physical from the mental. Personally, I think of everyone as a learner. When engaged in learning, there is potential for learning construction by all learners – teacher and student and others.

Enactivism implies the knower and the world are mutually specifying and co-emerging. This sounds a lot like connectivism. I would also be interested in seeing how connectivism contrasts with enactivism.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Definition of Educational Technology

Change is Constant
The evolving definition of educational technology is yet another personal and professional reminder that change is indeed constant.

I believe educational technology can be generally and simply described as two parts - technical and pedagogical. The technical component refers to the foundation of hardware, software, audiovisual and other media and functionality of the technical components. The pedagogical component refers to the processes and applications of technology in teaching and learning. Both the technical and pedagogical components are necessary and interconnected. For example, a solid technical foundation allows educators to concentrate on “how” technologies are used to create technology-rich learning environments. In small school jurisdictions it is common for one individual to wear many hats and have responsibilities which encompass both pedagogical and technical tasks. However, in larger school jurisdictions and post secondary environments the roles and responsibilities of an educational technologist and computer technician may be more transparent and distinct.

Similarly, Jim Cambridge, a research officer with the Centre for the study of Education in an International Context (CEIC) at the University of Bath - , describes the differences between technology in education and technology of education. Technology in education refers to the technical skills. An example of this would be installing software and knowing how to use the components of the software with other peripherals (i.e. technology as a tool). Technology of education refers to the technological pedagogical and content skills and the educational applications of knowledge (i.e. technology for teaching and learning).

It was interesting to review the history of the AECT definitions as a “snapshot in time” and think about the various influences, contexts, and rationales that changed each definition to reflect each time period. I noted in the 1963 definition the concept of media instrumentation was used to describe the significance of both people and instruments similar to my own definition. There is also reference to “method and medium” which reminds me of Marshall McLuhan’s famous line: “the message is the medium” and Jim Cambridge’s quote, “Let’s concentrate on the message, not the messenger” (Web-based Learning Presentation, 2002).

In the contemporary definition the identifying label reverted from “instructional technology” to “educational technology” as first used in 1972 and the definition demonstrates an increased attention to ethical issues within the field. Similar to the 1972 definition, the term “facilitating” learning reappears in the definition. There is a recognition of learner ownership and the role of educational technology being more facilitative rather than controlled. Another new feature in the 2004 definition is the use of “study” due to the increased interest in designing environments that facilitate learning through research and reflective practice instead of delivering learning.
(Educational Technology: A Definition with Commentary, 2008, p. 5)

Can “educational technology” be described as key ideas, values, an abstract concept, a theory, framework, field, profession, job title, or temporary snapshot in time? I believe educational technology embodies all of these things and applaud how the AECT definition committee fittingly describe educational technology metaphorically as a “sphere of activity” in which people interact with other people, data and things in pursuit of improved learning (AECT Definition and Terminology Committee document #MM4.0, 2004, p.14). It is also evident the newest 2004 definition clearly aligns with the AECT mission: “to provide international leadership by promoting scholarship and best practices in the creation, use, and management of technologies for effective teaching and learning in a wide range of settings” (AECT Definition and Terminology Committee document #MM4.0, 2004, p.18).

Denis Hlynka provides a thought provoking analysis of the definition and identifies several problems that will surely assist the next writing committee in revising the definition (Educational Technology, 2008). Hlynka noted the intended audience for the definition should include everyone instead of being delimited to students entering graduate programs. I believe there are numerous purposes and audiences for a definition of educational technology and can attest to the usefulness of a definition with the following personal experience.

Recently, I accepted a new position as a district supervisor of technology. Family, friends and colleagues began asking many questions: What is a supervisor of technology? Does that mean you will ensure computers are working in schools? Will you be responsible for all hardware/software in the district? Most of the questions seemed to be infrastructure or technically related questions (i.e. technology as a tool). It was also assumed by many individuals that I would be situated in the Information Technology (IT) department in the district office building. Instead, I will primarily work with the Instructional Services department and focus on “how” technology is used for improved learning in K-12 schooling.

As I began to meet with senior district administrators and several consultants that will be part of my team and I continued to recognize the necessity to define my title as well as the role of the team in order to clarify our responsibilities. Subsequently, I engaged in discussion with the team of consultants and it was decided our team would be called the “educational technology” team and we would use the current AECT definition to help communicate the role of the team in the district. My new title is now supervisor of educational technology. I’m anticipating and hoping the questions that people ask about my role will change and their assumptions about my responsibilities will also change (i.e. technology for teaching and learning) by using the AECT definition:

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)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Educational Technologists

I loved the quote that Dr. Jacobsen shared with us about educational technologists as it suitably describes how I felt as each doctoral student provided a self-introduction today:
“Educational technologist can be recognized by the stars in their eyes. They know they are sitting on the most explosive potential of the century. Theirs is the apex of innovative motivation. Whether they are fashioning learning environments, creating media, designing instruction or effecting research and theory, educational technologists have a dream- a dream that can sustain them, and those they touch, well into the next century” (Beckwith, 1988)

It was really exciting to meet so many outstanding individuals that are also on the doctoral journey in educational technology! I was fascinated by the variety of backgrounds and interests in the group and the connections to education and technology. The following diagram is a word cloud I created using Wordle to capture the topics that I found intriguing as everyone provided introductions during today’s class.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Doctoral Seminar in EdTech

I'm currently preparing to participate in a summer session doctoral seminar in educational technology at the University of Calgary. My blog will be used for reflection during the summer session.

About Me...
I have always been interested in the impact of educational technology on teaching and learning and started pursuing a PhD in Educational Technology in September of 2008 under the supervision and guidance of Dr. Michele Jacobsen. Originally, I am from Lethbridge, AB and received a B.Ed. from the University of Lethbridge in 1991 with a major in mathematics and minor in physical sciences. In 2000, I completed a case study research and thesis, entitled, “Technology Mentorship: A Staff Development Opportunity for Educators” and received a M.Ed. from University of Alberta. Currently, I am on maternity leave from the Calgary Catholic School District and will return to work in August as Supervisor of Educational Technology.

Throughout my career as a teacher, assistant principal and district consultant, I have been involved in creating technology resources, speaking at conferences, developing professional development opportunities for teachers and administrators and researching various aspects of technology integration. My experiences as an educator in the area of educational technology in two large urban school districts in the province, leading district initiatives for Alberta Initiatives for School Improvement (AISI) projects as well as technology projects funded through Alberta Education grants, developing research methods and analyzing data, have contributed to an interest in pursuing further research, specifically the professional development of administrators as educational technology leaders.

I am looking forward to the summer class and hope to explore, to grow, to take risks and to dream the possibilities!