Tag Archives: Education

Undertaking some action research

Teachers undertaking some area of action research, maybe as part of a course or CPD session, can further develop their skills

According to Guiding School Improvement with Action Research

by Richard Sagor, Action research can be defined as

“A succinct definition of action research appears in the workshop materials we use at the Institute for the Study of Inquiry in Education. That definition states that action research is a disciplined process of inquiry conducted by and for those taking the action. The primary reason for engaging in action research is to assist the “actor” in improving and/or refining his or her actions.”

Practitioners who engage in action research inevitably find it to be an empowering experience. Action research has this positive effect for many reasons. Obviously, the most important is that action research is always relevant to the participants. Relevance is guaranteed because the focus of each research project is determined by the researchers, who are also the primary consumers of the findings.

Perhaps even more important is the fact that action research helps educators be more effective at what they care most about—their teaching and the development of their students. Seeing students grow is probably the greatest joy educators can experience. When teachers have convincing evidence that their work has made a real difference in their students’ lives, the countless hours and endless efforts of teaching seem worthwhile.

The Action Research Process

Educational action research can be engaged in by a single teacher, by a group of colleagues who share an interest in a common problem, or by the entire faculty of a school. Whatever the scenario, action research always involves the same seven-step process. These seven steps, which become an endless cycle for the inquiring teacher, are the following:

  1. Selecting a focus
  2. Clarifying theories
  3. Identifying research questions
  4. Collecting data
  5. Analyzing data
  6. Reporting results
  7. Taking informed action

Step 1—Selecting a Focus

The action research process begins with serious reflection directed toward identifying a topic or topics worthy of a busy teacher’s time. Considering the incredible demands on today’s classroom teachers, no activity is worth doing unless it promises to make the central part of a teacher’s work more successful and satisfying. Thus, selecting a focus, the first step in the process, is vitally important. Selecting a focus begins with the teacher researcher or the team of action researchers asking:

What element(s) of our practice or what aspect of student learning do we wish to investigate?

Step 2—Clarifying Theories

The second step involves identifying the values, beliefs, and theoretical perspectives the researchers hold relating to their focus. For example, if teachers are concerned about increasing responsible classroom behavior, it will be helpful for them to begin by clarifying which approach—using punishments and rewards, allowing students to experience the natural consequences of their behaviors, or some other strategy—they feel will work best in helping students acquire responsible classroom behavior habits.

Step 3—Identifying Research Questions

Once a focus area has been selected and the researcher’s perspectives and beliefs about that focus have been clarified, the next step is to generate a set of personally meaningful research questions to guide the inquiry.

Step 4—Collecting Data

Professional educators always want their instructional decisions to be based on the best possible data. Action researchers can accomplish this by making sure that the data used to justify their actions are valid(meaning the information represents what the researchers say it does) and reliable (meaning the researchers are confident about the accuracy of their data). Lastly, before data are used to make teaching decisions, teachers must be confident that the lessons drawn from the data align with any unique characteristics of their classroom or school.

To ensure reasonable validity and reliability, action researchers should avoid relying on any single source of data. Most teacher researchers use a process called triangulation to enhance the validity and reliability of their findings. Basically, triangulation means using multiple independent sources of data to answer one’s questions. Triangulation is like studying an object located inside a box by viewing it through various windows cut into the sides of the box. Observing a phenomenon through multiple “windows” can help a single researcher compare and contrast what is being seen through a variety of lenses.

When planning instruction, teachers want the techniques they choose to be appropriate for the unique qualities of their students. All teachers have had the experience of implementing a “research-proven” strategy only to have it fail with their students. The desire of teachers to use approaches that “fit” their particular students is not dissimilar to a doctor’s concern that the specific medicine being prescribed be the correct one for the individual patient. The ability of the action research process to satisfy an educator’s need for “fit” may be its most powerful attribute. Because the data being collected come from the very students and teachers who are engaged with the treatment, the relevance of the findings is assured.

For the harried and overworked teacher, “data collection” can appear to be the most intimidating aspect of the entire seven-step action research process. The question I am repeatedly asked, “Where will I find the time and expertise to develop valid and reliable instruments for data collection?”, gives voice to a realistic fear regarding time management. Fortunately, classrooms and schools are, by their nature, data-rich environments. Each day a child is in class, he or she is producing or not producing work, is interacting productively with classmates or experiencing difficulties in social situations, and is completing assignments proficiently or poorly. Teachers not only see these events transpiring before their eyes, they generally record these events in their grade books. The key to managing triangulated data collection is, first, to be effective and efficient in collecting the material that is already swirling around the classroom, and, second, to identify other sources of data that might be effectively surfaced with tests, classroom discussions, or questionnaires.

Step 5—Analyzing Data

Although data analysis often brings to mind the use of complex statistical calculations, this is rarely the case for the action researcher. A number of relatively user-friendly procedures can help a practitioner identify the trends and patterns in action research data. During this portion of the seven-step process, teacher researchers will methodically sort, sift, rank, and examine their data to answer two generic questions:

  • What is the story told by these data?
  • Why did the story play itself out this way?

By answering these two questions, the teacher researcher can acquire a better understanding of the phenomenon under investigation and as a result can end up producing grounded theory regarding what might be done to improve the situation.

Step 6—Reporting Results

It is often said that teaching is a lonely endeavor. It is doubly sad that so many teachers are left alone in their classrooms to reinvent the wheel on a daily basis. The loneliness of teaching is unfortunate not only because of its inefficiency, but also because when dealing with complex problems the wisdom of several minds is inevitably better than one.

The sad history of teacher isolation may explain why the very act of reporting on their action research has proven so powerful for both the researchers and their colleagues. The reporting of action research most often occurs in informal settings that are far less intimidating than the venues where scholarly research has traditionally been shared. Faculty meetings, brown bag lunch seminars, and teacher conferences are among the most common venues for sharing action research with peers. However, each year more and more teacher researchers are writing up their work for publication or to help fulfill requirements in graduate programs. Regardless of which venue or technique educators select for reporting on research, the simple knowledge that they are making a contribution to a collective knowledge base regarding teaching and learning frequently proves to be among the most rewarding aspects of this work.

Step 7—Taking Informed Action

Taking informed action, or “action planning,” the last step in the action research process, is very familiar to most teachers. When teachers write lesson plans or develop academic programs, they are engaged in the action planning process. What makes action planning particularly satisfying for the teacher researcher is that with each piece of data uncovered (about teaching or student learning) the educator will feel greater confidence in the wisdom of the next steps. Although all teaching can be classified as trial and error, action researchers find that the research process liberates them from continuously repeating their past mistakes. More important, with each refinement of practice, action researchers gain valid and reliable data on their developing virtuosity.

http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/100047/chapters/What-Is-Action-Research%C2%A2.aspx

For more research and educational based books, check out out theelearningsite.com bookshop

Flipping the teacher

If I’d suggested flipping the teacher while I was still at school, I would have been in serious trouble. Given my reputation though, it wouldn’t have been out of the ordinary.

I once spread a rumour at primary school that my tyrant of a head teacher had died (wishful thinking), and when he came back from sick leave, I wasn’t the most popular child in the school. Having said that, many of the kids began to believe in the resurrection of the dead.

Once, during a chemistry lesson in secondary school, I was larking around and accidentally burnt a big hole in my teacher’s pretty floral dress with concentrated acid.

He was furious.

I got into a fair few scrapes and a lot of mischief, but suggesting that we ‘flip the teacher’ would have been the last straw.

Today, the idea of flipping the classroom is a familiar one. Flipping teachers may not be so familiar. Don’t panic though – I’m not advocating violence, nor am I suggesting children use obscene gestures. Flipping teachers is about swapping roles. I have already written about this in previous posts. The idea that teachers should become students so that their students can act as teachers may still be contentious and problematic, but I believe that as we see more flipped classroom approaches, the argument for also flipping the role of the teacher will become more compelling, and eventually more acceptable.

A little history: Aaron Sams and Jonathan Bergmann developed the term ‘flipped classroom’ by considering the time spent by teachers with their students in classroom. They wished to maximise this time, and developed a number of strategies that involved instruction taking place outside the walls of the classroom. Inside, with the teacher present, students were able to explore their learning in more depth and detail, capitalising on ‘face time’ with the expert. The work of Harvard University professor Eric Mazur supports this approach, because, as he says – instruction is easier than assimilation, and advocated coaching rather than lecturing as early as the 1990s. This is not new of course. For centuries, innovative teachers have been trying to find other more effective methods of pedagogy that can take the place of lecturing and instruction.

If we are at all serious about promoting student centred learning, then we should at least reconsider the roles teachers traditionally play at the centre of the process, and begin to discover how we can help the student replace them. This does not mean that teachers relinquish their responsibilities or shirk their obligations. What it does mean is that teachers should seriously consider new forms of pedagogy where students are placed at the centre of the learning process, and have to spend some time ‘teaching’. We learn by teaching. If you have to teach or present something for an audience, you will make damn sure you go away and learn it thoroughly so you don’t make an absolute ass of yourself. This is the same principle we see when we flip the teacher.

Here are just five ways you can flip the teacher:

  1. Ask students to peer-teach. This form of paragogy ensures that all students need to know something about the topic before they teach it, and can also learn from each other during the process. Even better, get them to teach you something you don’t already know about.
  2. Give your students a problem to solve. Ask them to come back later to show how they solved the problem, and get them to defend their solution. If they all have different solutions, the fun can start.
  3. Students create a self-directed project that encapsulates the principles or facts of the topic they are learning. It can be in the form of a video, or presentation, or role play, or even a blues song (be creative). Just as long as they ‘perform’ their work in front of an audience.
  4. Act as a student, and ask your students awkward questions about what they have learnt. Challenge them to explain clearly what they know. This approach ensures that they must think more critically and reflectively about what they have learnt, and that they need to justify their decisions.
  5. The age old seminar is a great flipping method. Ensure that each student has time to study a specific aspect of the course, and prepares teaching materials. They then get to present their work in front of you and their peer group, and are also tasked to encourage discussion by preparing some key questions.

I gratefully acknowledge Max Brown for giving me permission to use his most excellent cartoon that depicts flipping the teacher.

Graphic by Max Brown

Creative Commons License
Flipping the teacher by Steve Wheeler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

20 Coolest Augmented Reality Experiments in Education

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality is exactly what the name implies — a medium through which the known world fuses with current technology to create a uniquely blended interactive experience. While still more or less a nascent entity in the frequently Luddite education industry, more and more teachers, researchers, and developers contribute their ideas and inventions towards the cause of more interactive learning environments. Many of these result in some of the most creative, engaging experiences imaginable, and as adherence grows, so too will students of all ages.

Full Text: 20 Coolest Augmented Reality Experiments in Education So Far – Online Universities.

‘Magic Pen’ Helps High School Teachers Dig Deeper Into Math Lessons

Teacher writing on blackboard

Pretend you’re a high school student getting your nightly Facebook fix. As you scroll through your news feed, what do you see? Photos, gossip, YouTube videos, and calculus homework.

Wait, what? Homework on Facebook?

For students in Donna Noll’s calculus and algebra classes, that’s exactly what they see—and hear. A veteran math teacher at Seminole High School in Sanford, Fla., Noll posts overviews and sample questions recorded on her so-called “magic pen” to her fan page, SemiNoll Math. She uses Livescribe’s smartpen­, which records her voice, as well as what she writes, and combines the two into a PDF, creating a pencast.

Full Text: ‘Magic Pen’ Helps High School Teachers Dig Deeper Into Math Lessons – High School Notes (usnews.com).

10 Key Reasons Why Curation Will Transform Education and Learning

Content curation will play a major role both in the way we “teach” and in the way we educate ourselves on any topic. When and where it will be adopted, it will deeply affect many key aspects of the educational ecosystem.

content-curation-education-learning-430-ss-69341932.jpg
Photo credit: Shutterstock

This article, builds up over my recent presentation on Content Curation for Education that I delivered at Emerge2012 virtual conference.

In that presentation I claimed that the adoption of “curation approaches” will directly affect the way competences are taught, how textbooks are put together, how students are going to learn about a subject, and more than anything, the value that can be generated for “others” through a personal learning path.

If we learn not by memorizing facts, but by collaborating with others in the creation of a meaningful collection-explanations of specific topics/issues/events then, for the first time in history, we can enrich planetary knowledge each time we take on a new learning task.

And it’s already happening.

Yes, we are only at the very early stages, but, in my humble opinion, there are enough signs and indications that this is not going to be something marginal.

In this article I outline ten key factors, already at work, which, among others, will very likely pave the way for a much greater and rapid adoption of curation practices in the educational / academic world.

These factors are:

    1. An Overwhelming Abundance of Information Which Begs To Be Organized

 

    1. A Growing Number of “Open” Teaching / Learning Content Hubs

 

    1. Constantly Changing Information

 

    1. Real-World Info Is Not Held Inside Silos

 

    1. Fast-Food Info Consumption in Decline

 

    1. Job Market Changing – New Skills Needed

 

    1. Alternative Certification Systems Emerging

 

    1. Teachers Can Curate Their Textbooks

 

    1. Educational Marketplace Open to Thousands of Competitors

 

  1. Demand for Trusted Guidance

See the article for the full details: Why Curation Will Transform Education and Learning: 10 Key Reasons.

Naace: The iPad as a Tool For Education – a case study

Girl using an iPad

Author: Jan Webb

In the first two terms of implementing an iPad programme, Longfield Academy in Kent have noticed a great impact on teaching and learning. Research carried out on behalf of Naace and supported by 9ine consulting will be published here next week.

It’s really exciting to be able to announce our research into the use of iPads. After a successful implementation at Longfield Academy in Kent and two terms of embedded use, the research shows some incredibly positive impacts on teaching and learning. The report on the research, carried out on behalf of Naace and supported by 9ine Consulting is available below. It outlines the conclusions of one of the most extensive studies so far undertaken into the use of tablets for learning. As one teacher put it, “The iPads have revolutionised teaching”, with appropriate use of iPads helping to enhance learning across the curriculum and encouraging collaborative learning. Whilst it’s early days for evaluating the impact on achievement, there are significant gains in quality and standard of pupil work and progress and potential for extending use even further. As more schools across the country consider adopting the use of tablets in classrooms, the messages from this research will be incredibly helpful for those who are deciding on their next steps.

Download the report: Naace: The iPad as a Tool For Education – a case study.

5th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation

ICERI2012

5th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
19th, 20th and 21st of November, 2012
Madrid (Spain)
Website: www.iceri2012.org
Email: iceri2012@iated.org

Abstracts submission deadline: July 19th, 2012
You can submit your abstract at www.iceri2012.org/submit

ICERI2012 is an annual meeting point for lecturers, researchers, technologists and educators from all fields and disciplines. It will be an excellent opportunity to present your projects and experiences and meet other colleagues from all parts of the world.

The attendance of more than 700 delegates from 70 different countries is expected.

There are 3 presentation modalities: ORAL, POSTER and VIRTUAL.

The deadline for abstracts submission is July 19th 2012 (included). You can submit your proposals at www.iceri2012.org/submit

Two ISBN publications (ICERI2012 Abstracts CD and ICERI2012 Proceedings CD) will be produced with all accepted abstracts and papers. Accepted contributions will also be included in our Digital Library database of Education and Research innovation projects.

In addition, you will be able to enjoy the beautiful and attractive city of Madrid, its enormous cultural richness and unique gastronomy.

We look forward to seeing you in Madrid!

ICERI2012 Technical Secretariat
Email: iceri2012@iated.org

Technology Offers Opportunities & Challenges for Substitute Teachers

Not all substitute teachers benefit from classroom technology.
Not all substitute teachers benefit from classroom technology.

Some substitute teachers say that technology provided by classroom teachers can help them facilitate learning. “The teachers [will] leave stuff on their computer, which goes directly to the SMART Board…,” said Susan May, a substitute. “You can go on the computer and pull up whatever they need you to. Those are really nice substitute days.”

For other substitute teachers classroom technology presents challenges – not being familiar with school policies and not being trained to use the devices. 

How are your substitutes coping, and what are you doing to help?

Full Text: Technology Offers Opportunities, Challenges for Substitute Teachers – US News and World Report.

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How Blogs, Social Media, and Video Games Improve Education

How Blogs, Social Media, and Video Games Improve Education - Brookings Institution

Executive Summary

The appearance of collaboration tools such as blogs, wikis, social media, and video games has altered the way individuals and organizations relate to one another.[i] There is no longer any need to wait on professionals to share material and report on new developments.  Today, people communicate directly in an unmediated and unfiltered manner.

These developments have lowered information costs and altered the dynamics of information dissemination. On some platforms, communications costs have dropped virtually to zero. No longer are communications one way or based on organizational hierarchies. Rather, organizational expression moves in many directions at once and interacts with a wide range of personnel involved in the process.[ii]

The emergence of new platforms has been particularly dramatic in classroom transmissions. As Stanford University communications professor Howard Rheingold notes, “Up until now, ‘technology’ has been an authority delivering the lecture which [students] memorized. If there is discussion, it’s mostly about performing for the teacher. Is it possible to make that more of a peer-to-peer activity? Blogs and forums and wikis enable that. So a lot of this is not new, but it’s easier to do [and] the barriers to participation are lower now.”[iii]

Alan Daly, at the University of California at San Diego, predicts that education innovation “will shift away from experts and capacity building to focus on networks. The budget crisis will continue indefinitely. We have to start thinking about the expertise that resides in the system, and we have to be connected in order to make use of it.”[iv] Daly believes education “is moving away from large-scale prescriptive approaches to more individualized, tailored, differentiated approaches.”

Yet despite the wealth of communications opportunities offered by these changes, their impact on learning and instruction is still not clear. How do these technologies affect students, teachers, parents, and administrators? Do they enable new approaches to learning and help students master substantive information? In what ways have schools incorporated electronic communications in the learning process and messages to external audiences?

[i]Jana Hrdinova and Natalie Helbig, “Designing Social Media Policy for Government,” Issues in Technology Innovation 4 Brookings, (January 2011).

[ii]Darrell West, Digital Schools:  How Technology Can Transform Education, Brookings Institution Press, 2012.

[iii]Howard Rheingold, phone interview by author, July 22, 2011.

[iv]Alan Daly, phone interview by author, April 19, 2011.

Download the Paper (PDF): How Blogs, Social Media, and Video Games Improve Education – Brookings Institution.

Why Change is [very] Good for Education

Oil and water

What do you think about change and education? ‘Change’ and ‘education’ spoken in the same sentence has been compared to mixing oil and water. But is education more resistant to change than any other institution, corporation, government bureau, etc? I don’t think so. Yet I’m sure you’ll agree that change is hard, not natural, yet being adaptable, fluid and open to new ideas leads to good things… creative, crazy, innovative and even life change things.

I was inspired this week, I read about several educators that don’t appear afraid of change, in fact embraced change that has led to well…pretty incredible things. Though there are many, I’ll share just the few.

Full text Why Change is [very] Good for Education | online learning insights.

Is Online Learning the ‘Ruin of Education’?

Classroom with chairs

There’s a discussion happening right now that you should know about. It’s about a little thing called the future of education as we know it. In case you didn’t notice, online learning platforms are sprouting up around the world. They’re enabling anyone with an Internet connection to get a better education.

When I say ‘better’ education, I mean it’s better than the ‘no’ education they’re currently getting. So I’m all for online education as long as it’s being used to educate people who would not normally be able to take the particular classes they’re enrolled in online.

via Is Online Learning the ‘Ruin of Education’? | Edudemic.

Digital Divide: If You’re Reading This, You’re One of the Lucky Ones [INFOGRAPHIC]

Via Mashable

Even in the richest countries on the planet such as the U.S., not everyone has easy access to this cornucopia of connectivity, the Internet. The Internet is a tremendous growth engine, responsible for 21% of economic growth in the more advanced countries in the world, according to a McKinsey study . While those of us in the United States complain about how we have to pay more for Internet service that’s slower than those of other first-world countries, within the United States there’s a gaping chasm between the haves and the have-nots. In this infographic by OnlineITdegree.net , an ad-free website describing itself as “an online informational resource for individuals looking to pursue IT degree of related education and careers,” you’ll find surprising information about the differences in Internet access in the United States. There are vast gaps between Internet accessibility in cities and rural areas, racial disparities in Internet access (which isn’t as pronounced as it was a decade ago), and the growing gap between rich and poor and its influence on who goes without computers or Internet access. Beyond that, you’ll see more information about how the U.S. lags behind other countries in Internet technology, broadband speed and access. This is the part that has us scratching our heads. Why do you think the United States lags behind less-wealthy countries when it comes to Internet access? Do find that as frustrating as we do? What do you think should be done about this persistent digital divide? Let us know in the comments. Infographic courtesy OnlineITDegree.net More About: digital divide , infographic , internet , trending For more Tech coverage: Follow Mashable Tech on Twitter Become a Fan on Facebook Subscribe to the Tech channel Download our free apps for Android , Mac , iPhone and iPad

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Digital Divide: If You’re Reading This, You’re One of the Lucky Ones [INFOGRAPHIC]