Tag Archives: LitReview

Lit Review: Distance learning among Mexican and Texan children.

Cifuentes, L., & Murphy, K. (1999). Distance learning among Mexican and Texan children. Educational Technology Research and Development, 47(4), 94-102.

Authors: Lauren Cifuentes and Karen L. Murphy
Title of article:
Distance learning among Mexican and Texan children
Publication year: 1999
Database source: Wilson Select Plus. Also available through SpringerLink.
Name of journal: Educational Technology Research and Development
My Codes: VCProjects

Main Point: While students may not understand a distant culture or distant students, with well designed collaborative videoconference activities over a sustained amount of time, shared understanding can be gained.

The authors reference Moffett (1994) to emphasize that students need to develop relationships with people from diverse backgrounds in order to become more tolerant and respectful citizens. They reference Cummins & Sayers (1995) to suggest that collaborative learning has the potential to transform students’ perspective “from parochial to global.” A peek at the description of Cummins & Sayers’ book on Amazon.com sounds very intriguing. I wonder if their vision from 1995 holds up in 2007 with the advent of H.323 videoconferencing and Web 2.0.

This was a qualitative study that used content analysis and observations.

Two classes in Mexico City connected with two classes in College Station, Texas over a whole school year. Now that’s an extended collaborative project! Interestingly, the “activities were designed in response to Postman’s (1995) narratives that learners should share in order to achieve the diesred ends of education” including “stewardship of Earth, religion, democracy, diversity, and language.”PDF p. 2. The classes met mostly with videoconferencing, but occasionally via email. The student collaborative experiences were designed for “social construction of meaning (PDF p. 2).

First the two classes received two hour writing workshops, and students learned about poetry written about other places. Then the students wrote an “I am” poem describing what it might be like to live in the other country (Mexican students about the US; US students about Mexico).

Data collected included the poems, the lesson plans, and researcher observations and questioning during the lessons. Content analysis was conducted on the students’ poems.

PDF p. 6 Research question 1: “What impressions did the students have of each other?”

The Mexican students had moderate-to-high levels of knowledge about the United States, and their images were mostly positive. The Texan students were “unable to paint a vivid picture of Mexico”. Only a little over half of of the poems were completely positive. The Texan students used only four of the six likely sources of information that the Mexican students used. Most of the Mexican students “had enough experience with U.S. culture to accurately portray it in poetry”, but the Texan students had little firsthand knowledge, so they wrote “about their own culture, created an imaginary place, or referred to stereotypes.” p. 6. The authors suggest that this discrepancy indicates a need for teacher Texan children about their neighbors.

p. 6 Research question 2: “What activities brought children of Mexican and Texan cultures together successfully to learn with, about, and from each other?”

The students wrote the poem, as well as a story about the day in the life of a fourth grader in the other country so that they could see how much they had to learn throughout the year. They also created documents about themselves and exchanged these via a messenger who traveled back and forth for unrelated business.

The book I Felt Like I Was From Another Planet was used to think of ideas. They compared table manners across cultures.

They met two times to meet each other, a third time to learn about the interpretive nature of history focused on the Alamo, a fourth time to read diaries, reenactments and share comparative essays about the Alamo, a fifth to share folk tales and folk songs, and finally to share murals of their hometowns. Writing activities were included for each of these videoconferences. Each videoconference also had “a flood of questioning” as they learned how they were similar and different. This study is an excellent example of a collaborative project design and the quality learning experiences that accompanied each videoconference.

p. 8. The differences among the students may be in part related to their socio-economic status. The Mexican students attended an exclusive private school, whereas the Texan students attended public school. The Mexican students had many opportunities for travel, while the Texas students had not.

Author/Audience: At the time of writing, the authors were both college instructors of educational technology. The article is written for those interested in distance education and educational technology.


p. 2. The authors used Laughon’s (1998) four phases of online telecommunications projects: planning, advertising & registration, coordinating/moderating, and evaluation. I do think that we need to learn the lessons from Internet and email based projects as we develop and implement our videoconferencing projects.
Full reference: Laughon, S. (1998). Designing effective telecommunications projects. In Z. L. Berge & M. P. Collins (Eds.), Wired together: The online classroom in K-12, Vol. I: Perspectives and instructional design, (pp. 175-183). Cresskill, NJ: Hampton. This may warrant further instruction. Is anyone publishing these kinds of books now? Or did internet projects go away with the onset of Web 2.0?

PDF p. 4. “All videoconferences involved preconferencing, conferencing, and post conferencing activities for the students.” See a pattern emerging? Preparation is key! Even though the study doesn’t focus on that, several of these so far include a strong preparation component to the videoconference.

PDF p. 4 “Understanding the strong Mexican accent via videoconference technology required great concentration on the part of the Texan fourth-graders.” Have you noticed this with international VCs? Sometimes it’s very hard for the students to understand each other. We need to remember that when planning activities.

p. 5 The classes learned about their ancestries to find how many of them had parents born in other countries. They shared a self-collage in the first videoconference where they met each other. They said, “They are the same as us!” Sound familiar?

The authors created a model called “Cultural Connections.” It may be worth spending more time on this model and integrating it into my work.

The authors really didn’t focus on the effects of the technology or even describe what type of videoconferencing was used. The focus was on what they learned and how their perceptions changed throughout the year. Nevertheless, the experiences documented are a great model for videoconference collaborative projects, especially the international ones.

Thoughts on the Lit Review Process

As you may notice, I’ve been reading like crazy over my Christmas break. I’m taking a class this semester that requires a literature review, among other things. I intend to keep reading like this in the evenings over the next couple months. I have collected over 200 references on videoconferencing, and intend to read and share them as I have been doing.

I know that some of you, my blog readers, will skip these due to lack of time. And I totally understand! But for those of you who do read them, I am very interested in your comments, questions, thoughts. Please comment, if you have time and interest.

You might be wondering, why do it at all? Roxanne sent me this link a while ago: My Blog, My Outboard Brain. This really vibed with me. I think of my blog as a place to keep, organize and sort knowledge, particularly knowledge about videoconferencing. It’s a place to keep answers to questions I often receive. Since I have to read these research studies and take notes on them, I may as well write them up for you too. And here they are in a searchable database and I can easily link other knowledge and references as well (i.e. note the links in this example).

So I invite you to join in the process, or just skip past them. Whatever works for you. Here’s to new learning in a new year!

Lit Review: Characteristics and Critical Strategies to Support Constructivist Learning Experiences

Lit Review: This is a post in a series focusing on the research studies on videoconferencing.

Hayden, K. L. (1999). Videoconferencing in K-12 education: A Delphi study of characteristics and critical strategies to support constructivist learning experiences. Unpublished Ed.D., Pepperdine University, Malibu, CA.

Author: Katherine L. Hayden
Title of dissertation: Videoconferencing in K-12 education: A Delphi study of characteristics and critical strategies to support constructivist learning experiences.
Publication year: 1999
Database source: Dissertation Abstracts and Kathleen Hayden’s website.
My Codes:
VCContentProviders, VCProjects, VCCourseDelivery, VCImplementation, VCExperts

Main Point: The dissertation identified characteristics of videoconference sessions that support constructivist learning experiences. It also focused on critical support strategies necessary for successful K12 videoconferencing. These characteristics were identified by interviewing a panel of experts.

A Delphi study was used to identify characteristics of constructivist learning in videoconferencing.

The participants were from three areas: teachers with prior use of technology in K12 classrooms (stakeholders), experienced users of videoconferencing (experts), and educational consultant or visionaries (facilitator). (p. 73). A purposive sample was used.

They communicated via email and web-based questionnaires in three rounds of surveys, each building on the previous one. In the rounds, the participants identified characteristics and then rated them. The process was conducted over a four month period.

They were not required to have knowledge in constructivism, but were given a list of terms and experiences to work from: themes from the literature on constructivism (p. 65):

  • student-centered activities
  • active participation by students
  • deep understanding of concepts
  • access to primary sources of data
  • performance-based assessment
  • group situations / collaborative work
  • teacher as facilitator

The responses were analyzed using the content analysis method.

Hayden also checked several variables to see if there was a difference between the participants and their responses (age, gender, experience, etc.) One area that was significant was prior experience with videoconferencing, (p. 99). “The group that indicated prior experience using videoconferencing in K-12 education had higher constructivist point totals indicating higher perceptions of constructivist methodology statements.” This is really intriguing considering the Sweeney research results. It does seem this constructivist theme is emerging. Is it because I’m only reading the most interesting studies first and I’m definitely a constructivist? Is that why I enjoy VC so much?

Definitions: The definition of videoconferencing as two way seeing and hearing came from the PacBell site (now AT&T). So it appears that definitions in my dissertation could possibly come from sources such as a blog entry defining projects and collaborations.

Both room based and desktop based videoconferencing were included in the study.

The results identified 20 characteristics of videoconferencing that support constructivist learning. They are online at the web archive. They fit into four themes: connections, questioning, learning, and interaction. p. 136 The researcher found it interesting that the traditional “talking head” of videoconferencing did not emerge in the study.
The results also identified 10 support strategies, that are online at the web archive too. They are organized into six categories: people (a  site technician or coordinator!!, access, hardware and software, materials, staff development, and cost. The researcher suggested that one person could play several support roles: Technician, leadership and management. p. 139

Lit Review: This lit review is organized more closely to how I want to organize mine.

In the lit review, Hayden reviews the history of educational technology and how it often made little long term impact on the classroom.  p. 15 Teachers who used radio, film or instructional television used it “occasionally as a replacement for direct instruction.” p. 15. The reference is to Tyack and Cuban. Hmmm. Does that sound like the use of content providers to you? An occasion replacement for regular insturction?! Interesting, isn’t it. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Do the lessons learned in college course delivery studies apply to K12 curriculum videoconferencing?

p. 47 Hayden describes how schools have used Internet projects in the classroom, and that they aren’t in the research literature, but there are several educational technology journal articles referencing them. This may be the way to describe how VC is used, even tho’ there is little research specifically on K12 curriculum videoconferencing type applications. It may also be useful to look at the types of projects she references to see how they correspond with the types of VC projects we’re doing. I know a lot of the ideas in my Projects Booklet are from internet based projects and Webquests.

p. 48 Hayden also gives an overview of how CUSeeMe was used in classrooms with Global SchoolNet. Research seems applicable to H323 videoconferencing as well. Certainly we can learn from their lessons. GSF projects have some key elements: interactivity with experts & peers, authentic projects with student-centered learning, online assistance with curriculum and finding partners. Read Around the Planet helps with finding partners, and other tools also do this. It’s a critical piece to collaborative projects.

p. 51. The lit review covers the resources available to help teachers in using videoconferencing, limited to basically the PacBell and Global SchoolNet sites. Remember this was in 1999. If I include a section like this, there are a lot more resources to refer to! Note also that there is a reason Lora Smith received the recent CILC National Distance Learning Awards. This site has been the starter/foundation for many of us as we got started with videoconferencing.

Great Quotes:
‘If a picture is worth a thousand words, then videoconferencing is worth tens of thousands of words. ”  Newcombe 1997, but the source document is no longer online.

Background/Why It’s Important
p. 1-2 Hayden begins that background of the problem by arguing that business is using electronic communication tools and finds that they are a valuable tool for today’s work. (references from 1996 and 1997). Therefore the schools cannot ignore what is happening in the world. These arguments are similar to those I made when writing our RUS Grant. I’m sure there are more recent references that can be used to make this same argument.

p. 3-4 Hayden argues for the benefits of VC in education, including global resources, visuals, the personal touch, real-world learning, and educators visions of learning in the future.

Why we need VC coordinators in the school
p. 5 referenced Zhao – teachers need support to adopt new technologies otherwise there won’t be a widespread impact on education.

p. 15 Nonuse or infrequent use of early technologies was due to various problems, including access to training and resources. Another Cuban reference.

Limited support is one of the reasons teachers cite as an obstacle to using technology. (Hancock & Betts)

p. 58 “Site mentors” can provide support for professional development. Need to look into this research and how it applies to videoconference coordinators.  Hurst, Sprague, Polin (can’t find the reference).

Cuban‘s (1986) areas of concern for the implementation of technology are still critical issues today: “cost of equipment, maintenance and upgrades; access to technology, curriculum fit, training and support.” He also suggests two other areas that should be addressed: “teacher beliefs about teaching and learning and teachers being included in decision making relating to technology.”

p. 55 e-rate is referenced as a reason the cost of access to VC may be coming down. I think this is true – we couldn’t do IP based VC without good Internet connections. Of course now we want/need fiber! Will it ever end?!

Constructivism & Social Constructivism
p. 6 Many references used to make the point that technology is probably best integrated into student-centered constructivist learning environments. This theme is starting to come through loud and clear in my reading. We wonder why teachers don’t integrate videoconferencing in their curriculum or even try it. Could it be that they don’t believe that learning can happen in social constructivist environments? If that is true, then how do we teach them a new way? I think Jazz makes a few dents in this problem.

p. 23 & 24. Hayden describes how constructivism reforms are making inroads into educational practice and why they are desirable. I wonder what current research is saying about constructivism in the light of No Child Left Behind and the current testing environment? And how does that impact our emphasis on interactive videoconferencing?

Hiltz 1997 found that students who used group learning with online communication tools had higher grades. The social interaction was a key part of the educational process. Interesting, but it’s college level and it’s in a web based asynchronous environment. Do those principles apply to real time videoconferencing as well? Another study would be appropriate to find out if that is true.

p. 41 has a great chart I wish was online on the Internet so I could link to it to show you. It has videoconferencing activities, and how an instructionist teacher or a constructivist teacher would interpret it. I.e. “bring people together from remote locations” means “my students can display their work for another class” to an instructionist teacher, and “my students can collaborate with remote learners” to a constructivist teacher. Hmm. I’m thinking of the popularity of Read Around the Planet. Maybe another reason this project works so well is that it is not too far of a jump for an instructionist teacher to integrate into their learning. It’s relatively easy to put together a presentation to share with another class. The Q&A section is the start of interactive social constructivist experiences – something simple and easy to do.

“New technologies foster the kind of active, collaborative learning that constructivist advocate.” Collins p. 64. This is certainly true for videoconferencing, and especially Web 2.0 plus videoconferencing (see this example and this example).

Training/Professional Development
p. 57 The one day workshop focusing on how to use a skill or program vs. how to use it in the classroom is rarely effective.

p. 58 In technology PD, “the most important staff-development features include opportunities to explore, reflect, collaborate with peers, work on authentic learning tasks, and engage in hands-on, activte learning.” Sandholtz 1997 p. 142. Sure sounds like Jazz to me. These quotes correspond to my variable of what type of training the school VC coordinator received.

Relevance: This study focuses on K12 education, unlike many that focus on higher ed course delivery. It also supports the constructivist learning that is critical in successful content provider programs and collaborative projects.

Lit Review: Videoconferencing as access to spoken French.

Kinginger, C. (1999). Videoconferencing as access to spoken French. Canadian Modern Language Review, 55(4), 468-489.

Also published as: Kinginger, C. (1998). Videoconferencing as access to spoken French. Modern Language Journal, 82(4), 502-513.

Author: Celeste Kinginger
Title of Article: Videoconferencing as access to spoken French
Publication year: 1999
Database source: JSTOR
Name of journal: Canadian Modern Language Review
My Codes:

Main Point: This study is of a classroom interaction between language learners in the U.S. and France via a videoconference. The language used in the videoconference was mostly beyond the learners’ ability, taking them outsite the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). By watching a tape of the interaction, the students were able to learn more and return to their ZPD. This is a really interesting lesson. I can think of a couple international language interactions we’ve had that have been full of laughter and nervousness as described in this article. Taping the interaction is a great idea of a way to increase the benefit from the time spent with the native speakers. Of course permission should be acquired before taping kids!

It’s interesting that there is a mismatch between the instruction of written language – students are taught to speak the written “correct” language – and the actual spoken language in the country. This would partially explain why the interaction was so difficult for the students. Something to consider when planning an interaction based on language! The article set up this problem with a discussion of the issues and problems with teaching written “purified” French and spoken French in it’s many forms.

Author/Audience: The author is writing for instructors of French, so some of the article is in French.

Theoretical Framework: Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)

Definitions …”site-independent learning can also be understood as two-way interaction across distance, for mutual benefit. In this model, telecommunications technology is a tool for providing access to members of a speech community whose language is the object of study.” p.1 in the PDF (doesn’t match the journal page numbers). Site independent learning is used as a term to explain the use of videoconferencing for a collaborative project / learning experience.

This qualitative study examined selected interactions in a videoconference.

The actual learning experiences in this article are much better described than the Shaklee study. Students reviewed Hollywood remakes of French films, children’s literature, and television series. Both classes made web pages to publish their work. The students were assigned an email partner. The videoconferences consisted of two 60 minute sessions. The two teachers had worked collaboratively extensively for two years before the actual collaboration. Some interesting lessons here: notice the extensive “wrap around” experiences that accompany the videoconference. The use of asynchronous communication (email) extends the videoconference and helps work around the time zones. Notice also how this project started – they knew each other already!

Subjects: It’s not totally clear on the age/level of the students, but I believe both classes were university level – the American students were in the 5th semester or above at a regional state university, and the French students had “completed their Baccalauréat” (PDF p. 4).
The videoconference was over ISD lines at 256K and cost $332 for an hour. It sounds like they also had an echo to deal with as well as the delay. The instructors already knew that “pause length is a significant factor in the success or failure of intercultural communication.” PDF p. 4 with reference to Scollon. Interesting that this is an issue already with face to face intercultural communication. It’s exaggerated then in videoconferencing. We all have experienced how that pause after a question is so critical. Wait time! To work around this, they planned a structured interaction with prepared questions.

This study looks at the second of the two videoconferences, and only the French portion. The other half was in English because the French class was learning English. I think this model is critical for native speaker language exchanges. There has to be a give and take so that both classes get to try out the language they are learning.

The American students had prepared their questions and read them off of note cards. They had 11 questions in 30 minutes. The students already knew each other because of their email partners. So in some of the Q&A interactions, the students were paired one on one for the interaction while the others watched. This is an interesting way to organize it too. It would alleviate some of the confusion that comes when a language learner asks a question of a class of native speakers and they all answer at once, making it hard for the language learner to understand the answer.

The actual transcript of the interaction is included, and in the second one, one can see that the language learner was really struggling. The author suggests that this was due to the anxiety and stressful situation, and they may not have had enough experience with spoken French. As I’m reading this, I’m wondering if any of this happens with French classes that participate in the art museum programs offered in French.

After the class, the students watched the tape. And the student who was asked more questions in French and struggled to answer, took the tape home and emailed the other student four times in debriefing the interaction. This is another great way to help students get past the frustration of the real-time pressure of the spoken language and still learn from the experience.

The author suggests (PDF p. 9) that another reason the students struggled so much was that they “live in what may be termed an ‘acquisition poor’ environment for acquiring competence in spoken French.” Most of the students didn’t have access to native speakers. This highlights another reason to use videoconferencing to access native speakers (as hard as that is to do!). However it seems clear that the instructors involved should at least read this article to assist in the planning of the videoconference.

p. 10 “It may be legitimate to suggest that the videoconference took place in a language to which the learners had ever before been exposed, of the existence of which they had been mainly unaware.” This is a serious situation; one to be considered before planning an interaction with native speakers.

While the American French students were able to participate minimally during the videoconference, they now had a tape of the interaction. They watched them again and again in class until everyone understood the features of spoken French used in the interaction.

While the students had trouble, they all appreciated the experience. They reported learning so much from it, and wished it could have happened more often in their class. Now that we have IP connections, the cost of this type of interaction is gone. There is still the difficulty of finding a partner class and negotiating the time schedules.

Three problems were illustrated in this project: the language classroom anxiety induced by the stress of the videoconferencing, the unclear status of spoken language in American French instruction, and the need to make a place for language awareness in the curriculum.

The spoken language is especially a problem with French.

Telecommunications will force the profession to address the issues of spoken French.

Instructors should consider the students’ ZPD when planning a similar videoconference.

Instruction in languages may need to include a more rich explanation of foreign languages, accounting for “social and situational variation.” (PDF p. 11).

Cross References:
The Becta lit review says: Videoconferencing “provides enhanced opportunities for language students to interact
with native speakers” (Kinginger 1998). p. 2

The Alberta lit review says: videoconferencing “has been expensive – the cost of videoconferencing over telephone lines is equivalent to the cost of six long distance calls (per site) for the duration of the event.” p. 5

There are some important lessons in this study on preparation and planning for a videoconference. The value of the recorded interaction is emphasized. The study also shows how to make the best of a videoconference that doesn’t quite turn out the way you might have thought it would.

Lit Review: Elementary children's epistemological beliefs and understandings of science in the context of computer-mediated video conferencing with scientists.

Shaklee, J. M. (1998). Elementary children’s epistemological beliefs and understandings of science in the context of computer-mediated video conferencing with scientists. Unpublished Ph.D., University of Northern Colorado, Greeley.

Author: Janie Mefford Shaklee
Title of dissertation: Elementary children’s epistemological beliefs and understandings of science in the context of computer-mediated video conferencing with scientists.
Publication year: 1998
Database source/direct link: Dissertation Abstracts (in theory this link should go to full text if you are on campus at your university library)
Name of journal: n/a
My Codes: VCContentProviders

Main point of the dissertation: Students understandings of science increased based on their brief contact with scientists via 128K ISDN videoconferencing. I wouldn’t call it brief though. Looking at our current practice of one hour “field trips” with content providers, scientists, etc., this study is about a 3-4 week collaboration between teachers, students, and a remote scientist. It’s more like an extended unit of study. Not so brief in my opinion.

Methods: Data were collected with questionnaires, drawings and interviews. Eight elements of the processes of science (ask a question, plan an investigation, employ equipment, use data to construct a reasonable explanation, etc.) were used to operationalize the measurement of student understandings of science.

A pilot study was done first to test the instruments and the administration processes.

“In reality many students have little exposure to the every day work life and reasoning of scientists.” p. 12 Certainly videoconferencing is a way to brings these remote resources to the classroom experience.

The 2-4th grade students in Colorado accessed scientists in New Jersey as part of project PEARL which doesn’t seem to be in existence anymore.

Research questions were: “What is the relationship between children’s epistemological beliefs and their understandings of the processes of science” and “How does understanding of the processes of science change when children are expose to scientists doing science?”

Due to the small sample size (one classroom in a university laboratory school), the results are not generalizable to national, state, or local populations. Also the tests were used with young children for the first time and may need further validation.

p. 77 “The classroom was equipped” with the videoconferencing system, and “was viewed as the children’s habitat, or their learning context.” Look at this! Early in the research on videoconferencing in the curriculum, this study is done with the equipment installed in their native learning “habitat”. We really do need more research on their learning in the classroom vs. transporting to another location to access videoconferencing. I think we all agree from our own experience that it’s better to have access in the classroom / school environment if at all possible.

p. 79 The teachers didn’t just receive the content from the scientists, they “collaborated fully with the scientists in creating science lessons.” Can we say preparation ahead of time?! p. 80 The teachers “continued to provide normal classroom management”. Another crucial element!

The activities via videoconference included asking questions of the scientist, discussing a research question, conducting experiments together, and acting out concepts such as molecules in water, ice or air. It appears from the description that they videoconferenced on a regular basis, possibly weekly. The treatment period was four weeks and “multiple interactive and distance resources were used.” It doesn’t say how many. I would have appreciated a more specific description of what exactly went on during those weeks. (In one place it says three weeks, in another four weeks.)

Literature Review
The literature review provides an overview of the use of the National Science Education Standards and a brief history of science education and an overview of distance education, specifically a brief description of how ISDN technology works.

Interestingly, “the transmitted images are not quite so good as high-definition television. That level of quality requires optical fibers for transmission, which will not be fully available for another decade or two.” Written in 1998. It’s almost a decade later. How are we doing? Seems like we have quite a ways to go for fiber access in all schools. Cost is still a huge factor. I also wonder, what was HD TV like in 1998? I don’t think the author meant HD like we see it now.

The lit review actually has very little research related to videoconferencing. Maybe because there was very little available at the time of writing.

The literature review also covers the methods of assessing the student’s knowledge, including the Draw-a-Scientist-Test which measures students understandings about scientists.

There is also a section in the literature review about the influence of students’ epistemological beliefs on their learning.

Several different tests were used to determine a potential change in the students’ understandings of science.

Pre and post tests were given to measure students’ epistemology. A science pre test and post test was given. The children created drawings, and interviews were conducted.

Multiple linear regression was used to determine what proportion of the variance in the total science posttest scores could be explained by their total score and the children’s age.

“The quantitative results indicated the children learned about science from the processl.” p. 115. In journals, students described what they learned from the scientist. “I learned from Dr. Bob that scientists don’t jump to conclusions.” etc.

The author was interested in the “relationship between children’s epistemological beliefs and their understandings of the processes of science,” however the exploratory factor analysis revealed no pattern. So this part of the research didn’t work out, possibly due to the modification of the test for young students, and/or the small sample size.

A dependent samples t-test indicated that the children’s performance in the processes of science “increased significantly from science pretest to science posttest.” Since there was no control group however, the results should be interpreted with caution. This is interesting because the articles I’ve read that refer to this study just report that the an improvement in the students’ science instruction was associated with the videoconferencing.

Another interesting finding was that age was not related to science understanding. The students were in a multi-age classroom, grades 2-4. Their differences in understanding seemed to be more related to their educational experiences than their age. What are the implications here for science instruction?

p. 123 “using this advanced communications technology as a classroom resource is feasible within the regular curriculum”. and “the question remaining is how best to apply this medium.” Do we see it as feasible within the regular curriculum? Do our schools see that? Are we communicating well how best to apply this medium?

The study ends with some very interesting questions. Vygotsky is referenced again, as learning is social in nature and interactions between student and educator are key. “The implementation of this study involved many social interactions among the educational psychologist, the students, the teachers and the scientists. Was it pedagogically valuable?” One of the classroom teachers said that it was most valuable “when we found ourselves doing things and [achieving] understandings which would not have happened without Bob’s expertise.”


  • Why hasn’t this study been replicated on a larger scale? Maybe as I get further into my reading I will find that it has been done.
  • I still find it very interesting that VC research shows up in unlikely places. Not just educational technology research journals. This researcher was more interested in the epistemological understandings of the students, yet used videoconferencing as part of the research.

Lit Review: A Study Of The Factors That Impact Videoconferencing As A Learning Tool Within Three Regional Service Agencies In Michigan

Currie, N. (2007). A Study Of The Factors That Impact Videoconferencing As A Learning Tool Within Three Regional Service Agencies In Michigan. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Oakland University, Rochester, MI.

Author: Neil Currie
Title of dissertation: A Study Of The Factors That Impact Videoconferencing As A Learning Tool Within Three Regional Service Agencies In Michigan
Publication year: 2007
Database source: Not yet in dissertation abstracts. Received chapters four (results) and five (conclusions) via email from the author.
Name of journal: n/a
My Codes: VCImplementation

Main point of the dissertation: This dissertation examined the factors that impact the success of videoconferencing from both the ISD (regional service agency) level, and the school district level, comparing among the three and between the ISD and school district perceptions.

Methods: Mixed methods including a survey and in-depth interviews. Surveys were given to videoconference staff at the educational service agency as well as the superintendents and/or technology directors in the local schools serviced by those agencies.

Research questions examined what affects the success of a regional delivery network: the size of the network’s geography, the socio-economic homogeneity, the key planning elements, and factors involving the availability of programming.

The three ISDs were analyzed separately. Participants rated their perception of the use of VC in their school district as “rarely” “couple times per month” “couple times per week” “used almost daily.” They also predicted whether future use would increase or decrease in the next few years.

In the two smaller ISDs (9 and 7 school systems), videoconferencing was used by 100% of the school districts. In the larger ISD (28 school systems), only 68% had used videoconferencing. In the larger ISD, none of the schools reported using it daily; whereas in the smaller ISDs they reported using it more often (67% daily in ISD B, 100% daily in ISD C).

A chi-square test of significance was used to cross tab the size of the districts in square miles with the answer to the question “Have students within your school system participated in video conferences”. The results 2= 18.707, df=3, p=.000) indicate a significant difference between them. It would be nice to know the effect size. However, this data did not match the survey results, so the researcher recommended that the actual practices be used as a measurement of usage; the need and purpose of VC are more logical reasons than the size of the district, and the network’s geography shouldn’t be used as a predictor in success. I do think this warrants a closer look with actual numbers usage, and a comparison of shared classes to shared classes and curriculum VCs to curriculum VCs. It needs to be done in a way that the purpose/type of VC isn’t a confounding variable.

The amount of money spent per student and the number of students participating in school lunches was used to determine the socio-economic homogeneity of the school system. This was cross tabbed with the same question as above “Have students within your school system participated in video conferences”. There was no significant difference. However in the discussion section, the researcher describes how this data was collected. It was the ISD personnel’s perception of the districts use and the district personnel’s perception of total use. It would be useful to actually compare the socio-economic status with the actual numbers of use – again divided by purpose. I don’t think it’s fair to compare shared classes to short curriculum videoconferences when looking at usage.

Issues that arose in the survey and in depth interviews on the question of key planning elements that are necessary for successful delivery included:

  • lack of a person to facilitate videoconferencing
  • lack of promotion of videoconferencing by administration
  • access to equipment
  • awareness of how to integrate it into lesson plans
  • professional development for all users
  • low picture quality
  • lack of a clear vision or purpose for using this technology
  • teachers lack of time
  • fear of the unknown

It’s interesting that in some of the ISDs, the local districts perception of training offered differs from the ISDs perception of training offered. The districts in the smaller ISDs perceived more training offered to them than the districts in the larger ISD. Hmm. How do we know we’re meeting the perceived needs from an ISD perspective? We should be careful not to make assumptions!

Another interesting finding was that in the larger ISD, the local districts felt that the elementary schools were using videoconferencing more often (42.8%) whereas the ISD personnel felt that the greatest usage was at the high school level. In one of the smaller ISDs, the ISD personnel thought that it was used more in elementary, whereas the schools thought it was used more for high school. In the other ISD, their perceptions matched, that high school was using it more. I wonder if some of this difference in perception is related to the type of videoconferencing – full course delivery at the high school level vs. short curriculum-based programs at the elementary level. The larger ISD had only 10% of the districts using course delivery, whereas the two smaller ISDs had 100% of the local districts involved in course delivery.

A finding that TWICE should think about more is that in the larger ISD, 68% of the local schools said that they did not take advantage of the services offered by TWICE. This was true in one of the smaller ISDs too. In ISD C, the districts were using the TWICE services more often. We suspect that sometimes the word doesn’t get past the ISD down to the districts level, and here we have data from two ISDs that supports this possibility. What might be a solution?

In ISD A, the districts were given videoconferencing equipment but without follow-up or infrastructure in place to ensure it’s success. In most of those schools, the equipment is sitting in the administration buildings gathering dust. This is an important lesson for grant implementations!

The ISD (C) with the highest usage of videoconferencing offered training not just on videoconferencing, but also how to use it in the curriculum and how to integrate it in the curriculum. These sessions were offered via videoconference so that the teachers could receive the training in their school building.

Another important difference with ISD C was that every school building in their service area had videoconferencing in the school. This access obviously is critical to increased use of videoconferencing.

Recommendations include: “having a codec device located in an adminstration building makes it almost impossible for individual schools to utilize this technology.” So of all the places you could put VC in your school, the administration building is the last place you should put it if you intend to use it regularly with students.

“The lack of a local person who can trouble shoot transmission problems and coordinate programming can often lead to districts giving up on using this type of technology.” How many times have I said this! If you want VC to be used, you must have someone local in the same building as the equipment to help people use it. In my experience, it doesn’t matter so much who they are, but if they are trained, supported, and enthusiastic.

77%of the 44 local districts studied, and 100% of the ISDs had videoconferencing as part of their technology plan. The researcher recommends that this “remain a necessary section of all future technology plans.”

In looking at the data on shared classes, the researcher recommended that offering distance learning classes will increase the use of VC, legitimize the technology, and make it easier for others to see how the technology works. It also seemed that starting with foreign languages and AP classes were a good place to start when offering distance learning classes.

A long list of further research is supplied and shows that we have much more work to do in this area.

Questions/thoughts I have still:

  • I want to get the full text and look at the theoretical framework and literature review providing the basis for the study.
  • I’m very intrigued with the educational service agency perspective and feel that my intended research will supplement this work.
  • This research focused on total usage, with some discussion on the difference between VC for shared classes and content providers. However, collaborations weren’t mentioned. This should be considered in future research as well.

Note: I didn’t put page numbers in my references because they aren’t the true page numbers since I only have part of the dissertation. 

Lit Review: It's a Bit Like Star Trek: The effectiveness of video conferencing

Carville, S., & Mitchell, D. R. (2001). It’s a Bit Like Star Trek: The effectiveness of video conferencing. Innovations in Education and Training International, 37(1), 42-49.

Authors: Sheelagh Carville and Denise R Mitchell
Title of article: It’s a Bit Like Star Trek: The effectiveness of video conferencing.
Publication year: 2001
Database source: InformaWorld.
Name of journal: Innovations in Education and Training International
My Codes: VCCourseDelivery

Main point of the article: To find out the effectiveness of VC as a medium to deliver a higher education degree course in early childhood to women new to higher ed and who live in a disadvantaged region.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews with the 61 students at both sites, and 5 tutors (teachers). Questionnaires were developed and given to the remote site, the host site, and the tutors.

Participants felt that videoconferencing increased the remote sites level of access to instruction, saved money and time for the college, and provided better feedback and discussion than other distance learning methods might lack.

The novelty appears to have led tothe majority of the students having a positive attitude towards videoconferencing. However, the host site students were relieved they weren’t on the receiving end, and a few of the receiving reported headaches and finding it hard to watch the conference. (This was a 128K ISDN connection.)

Students on the receiving end reported developing different skills to learn in this mode including “listening without really watching”, “careful concentration” and “imagining that the tutor was in front of me in the room.” p. 44

Issues around sound (the receiving site had to come up to a mic to talk), time delay, and picture quality impeded the instructor’s spontaneity and made the lecture “rather stilted.” p. 45. It was difficult for the host site to include the receiving site and sometimes the receiving students felt ignored. It was tiring for the instructor to “mediate between student groups.”

At the end of the course, the receiving site students “got used to it” and were willing to connect again. However the students at the host site said, “It’s great, as long as I am not on the receiving end.” p. 45

The students suggested improvements in audio and video quality, as well as more discussion and visuals shared in the lecture.

p. 46. Interactivity is key, and the placement of microphones and time delay limits the interactivity. In most cases in 2007, these issues are not as much a problem. Do you agree? Questions and answers can work well, but students need to be confident and articulate to ask a question where all ears & eyes are on them with the microphone and camera. Those of us who have become comfortable with videoconferencing need to remember how scary/uncomfortable it is for newbies to be on camera!

p. 46 The instructors became more comfortable with videoconferencing as they engaged with it on a regular basis. They learned new techniques by watching their colleagues instruct. The also had a “willingness to be flexible and a desire to make it work.”

p. 46 Instructors couldn’t be lively and animated. Instead they had to stay fairly still, look directly into the camera, and slow down their speech. I think this is also due to the 128K connection. I’ve seen some wonderfully lively content providers presenting at 384K with great success.

p. 47 “Expectectations of technology itself also have a bearing on the participant’s tolerance of the system in use.” If they don’t have a mental model of how the process works, they are more frustrated with the experience. This is really interesting, and something we need to keep in mind as we introduce teachers to videoconferencing. If we can explain that it’s over the Internet and sometimes some of the picture doesn’t get through, etc. it helps them have a reasonable expectation of the quality. This is another reason I never “tell” about VC without actually connecting somewhere. You have to see it to understand it. I’ve also found that comparing it to digital cable works well. They’ve seen the “blocks” on the screen and understand it.

The researcher explored why the remote students were more content with the videoconference medium than the host students. The remote students had no other access to this course of study, and therefore were appreciative of the opportunity. The facilitator at the remote site also made a significant contribution to the remote students’ experience. It was successful because the students were motivated and the content was relevant and desired.

Cross References: This article was quoted in the Becta research document as follows. No mention was made of the technical challenges.

The audience for courses can be increased by teaching face to face with one group and simultaneously transmitting to a second centre elsewhere (Gilbert 1999; Carville & Mitchell 2000).

Finally, interactivity was a fairly important issue in this article, and the technology seemed to impede some of that due to mic placement and only a 128K ISDN connection. I believe that these issues are resolved in most current 384K IP connections with the newer mics designed for the whole room.

Lit Review: The use of videoconferencing techniques which support constructivism in K–12 education

Sweeney, Marilyn Ann. (2007). The use of videoconferencing techniques which support constructivism in K–12 education. Ed.D. dissertation, University of Massachusetts Lowell, United States — Massachusetts. Retrieved September 23, 2007, from ProQuest Digital Dissertations database. (Publication No. AAT 3257352).

Author: Marilyn Ann Sweeney.
Title of article: The use of videoconferencing techniques which support constructivism in K–12 education.
Publication year: 2007
Database source: ProQuest Dissertation Abstracts.
Name of journal: n/a
My Codes: VCContentProviders, VCProjects, VCImplementation.
Main point of the dissertation: Main research question: Is there a relationship between K-12 educator preference for constructivist learning theory and their use of videoconferencing to support constructivism in their videoconferencing lessons? The study looked at four constructivism constructs: prior knowledge, mental models, interaction, and student directed active learning and how those constructs are applied in videoconferencing.

Methods. A survey was used that was built on three other research studies: a survey by Hayden (1999) to find links between constructivism and videoconferencing, a survey by Ravitz, Becker and Wong (2000) to see if distance learning educators used constructivism, and a constructivism preference tool by Taylor and Fraser (1991).

p.23 gives a great rationale for a nationwide sample and using a listserv to administer the survey. Videoconferencing is an emerging technology so a nationwide sample is logical to get more respondents. Also these educators are already using technology, so a listserv is a good way to get to them.

Data analysis techniques included using Cronbach’s alpha to determine the reliability of the two survey sections. Correlation, linear regression, and ANOVA were used to analyze the videoconferencing techniques and constructivism preferences.

Thoughts on the Sample. I remember this survey coming across the listservs. It’s interesting that only 63 educators responded to the survey. I think it’s because so many on the VC listservs aren’t classroom teachers – they are media specialists and tech coordinators – those responsible for videoconferencing. I don’t remember if I finished filling it out or not, but I remember looking at it and thinking that the questions didn’t apply to me because I wasn’t teaching. I wonder how many other coordinators did the same. How many of us forwarded the survey to the teachers we support? I can’t remember if I did or not, but there may have been other ways to get a higher sample of actual classroom teachers.

Further research could include replicating this study in a smaller geographical area but with more teachers. For example, last year we had over 700 videoconferences in our service area. I would guess that’s at least 300 teachers who participated in videoconferences. I can think of a few other educational service agencies who have a lot of teachers using VC and could help with getting more teachers to fill out the survey.

It’s interesting also (p. 71) that half of the respondents had done 20 or more videoconferences. They must have been more willing or more likely to fill out the survey. I can think of many teachers in my area who have only done 1-5 VCs.

Survey Development
How the survey was developed. A chart on pages 61-62 show the correlation between the survey question, the constructivist construct (prior knowledge, etc.), the major theorist and the researcher. These survey questions would be great tools to think about for every videoconference as part of the evaluation. For example:

  • Was the videoconference preceded by classroom work on the topic?
  • Have the students completed readings about the topic prior to the videoconference?
  • Did the students take notes or fill in an activity sheet during the videoconference?
  • Did the students write about what they learned in the videoconference?

These are all great questions. Ones we should think about more as we design and evaluate our participation in videoconferences. I guess also these vibe with me because I’m a constructivist at heart.

“The key finding of this study is that the use of videoconferencing techniques has a positive relationship to the educator’s preference for constructivism. The greater the preference for constructivism in their classroom, the more frequent is the use of videoconferencing techniques, which support constructivism.” The higher the constructivism preferences of the educator, the more videoconferencing techniques they used. (β=.536, n=39, p<.001) p. 106. This is really interesting!! How many times have you heard coordinators ask – how do we get teachers to use VC more? Maybe some of them don’t see the connection between their teaching preferences and goals and the results that can be achieved with a videoconference? I don’t think that just telling them they can connect with NASA or the Columbus Zoo will cut it for training. Maybe this is why the immersive constructivist learning environment created by Jazz is so powerful. I wonder if it’s powerful enough to change opinions about constructivist learning? A before and after survey of beliefs about constructivism and VC would be interesting, especially if coupled with a comparison of use of VC before and after Jazz.

93% of the respondents precede their videoconferences with work on the topic. p. 84 We know that preparation ahead of time is critical to the success of the VC, so this fits well with our experiences.

I wish that interactivity were more defined. 81% of respondents give students the opportunity to ask their own questions of the remote end. p. 84. But what else is interactivity? The MysteryQuest format is highly interactive as the students have to engage with each other’s content. Simulation programs such as the Challenger Learning Center e-Missions are also interactive at a higher level than just Q&A. Roxanne has been exploring this with her Holiday Extravaganza videoconferences. I guess another study would be to really delve into the definitions and forms of interactivity. Many want to know other ways to increase interactivity besides such asking questions.

The respondents preferred constructivist teaching strategies that include students talking with other students about how to solve problems (98%) and teaching interesting things about the world outside of the school (91%). p. 90. What would be even more interesting is to give this survey to all the teachers in 2 or 3 schools. It would be interesting to see if the teachers who aren’t using videoconferencing score lower on these items.

Another interesting finding is that fewer respondents involved students in the planning for the videoconference even though they preferred that in the constructivist section of the survey. Could it be because they don’t know how to involve students in planning a VC? or that the VCs they are participating in actually don’t have room for students to plan the VC? think of content provider programs. Most of them don’t have too much room for student planning other than bringing their own questions. Whereas projects such as Monster Match, Holiday Extravaganza, and Read Around the Planet have a high potential for teachers to involve students in planning for the VC. If teachers choose, students can brainstorm the activities and presentations to share with the partner class.

“54% of the respondents reported being self-taught which suggests on-site support could supplement the other avenues.” p. iii. Hmm. Is this another evidence of the need for a school level videoconference coordinator? Someone IN the building to assist teachers in using VC in their curriculum?

Lit Review
One way to organize a literature review is by history of videoconferencing. This is how Sweeney organized her lit review.

Definitions included are videoconferencing, ISDN, IP, Interactive TV, distance education, e-learning and listserv. (p.20).

I find it interesting that Sweeney uses the word “conduct” to describe teachers who participate in videoconferences: “. When you participate in a videoconference with a content provider, do you consider yourself as “conducting” the videoconference, or do you think the content provider is conducting it?

Questions/Wonderments I Have

  • I need to think more about Vygotsky’s concept of social constructivism and how it is evidenced in the various videoconferences I’m involved in – ASK and MysteryQuest for example.
  • I really need to think about how we’ve implemented social constructivism in the Jazz class.

This was a really interesting dissertation and is worth a skim through if you can find some time to access it!

Going Global: The Complexities of Fostering Intercultural Understanding

Lee, M. M. (2004). Going global: The complexities of fostering intercultural understanding in a rural school using videoconferencing technology. Unpublished Ph.D., Indiana University, Indianapolis.

Author: Mimi Miyoung Lee
Title of article: “Going Global”: The Complexities of Fostering Intercultural Understanding in a Rural School Using Videoconferencing Technology
Publication year: July 2004
Database source: Dissertation Abstracts.
Name of journal: n/a
My Codes: VCContentProviders

Main point of the dissertation: p. 4. The 7th graders participated in six videoconferences with persons from six different countries who connected from the University. Each program was 50 minutes long during the regular class period. While the one session videoconference interviews with someone from another country exposed the students to people from other cultures, it did not change their frameworks for understanding other cultures.

In some ways this study examines the effectiveness of the student learning through videoconferencing technology. And the conclusion is that short videoconferences don’t always effect deep change in students’ understanding.

Type of Study. Qualitative. Ethnographic study using Critical Ethnography (Carspecken, 1996). Observations, interviews and document analysis were used to collect data. The author was one of the speakers for the International Studies program. Data was collected on 18 students of the 34 in the class that participated in the international sessions with the content provider.

p. 27. The study was done with a very tiny school that serves students from around the area. However there isn’t a centrally location town and Wal-mart is 18 miles away. 40% of the student population participated in the free or reduced lunch program. This school is the extreme opposite from the school in the last dissertation I reviewed.


The findings suggest that the students’ interpretation often resulted in measuring the differences of other cultures with the symbols of American consumerism, producing “Americanized other cultures.” The study concludes that the integration of the International Studies program was received very positively by the teacher and the students but did not result in an awareness of, and challenge to, already established frameworks for understanding difference. p. viii in Abstract.

This is very intriguing. Having lived in two other countries myself, I suspect that short videoconferences cannot make the difference the author was looking for. I’m also interested in the perspective of the author. I believe that her cultural background makes this study richer and more meaningful than if she had been of the same culture as the students she was studying.

p. 142. The program provided opportunities for meeting people from other cultures that is not realistically possible for isolated rural environments. The programs generated student motivation, but did not “result in an awareness of, or challenge to, an already established framework for understanding differences.” p. 143. “The students’ interpretation and the understanding of the lives of the “other” cultures, in many cases, still showed signs of ethnocentrism.

Suggestions for future research
p. 144. “More research needs to be done on the implementation of programs which can better foster a pluralistic understanding of non-American cultures, where differences are respected and appreciated.” “Intercultural competence is closely related to the concept of empathy, which refers to the ability to understand the world from the point of view of another.”

The researcher suggested several improvements for the program including:

  • Continuous use of the sessions
  • Support of the teacher including social studies communities of practice
  • Deeper topics such as class and gender vs. simplifications of the culture such as focusing on food and entertainment
  • Using a problem solving task to provide an “experience of using different approaches to work toward a common goal.”
  • More collaboration between rural schools & universities
  • Providing a panel of speakers to “better highlight the diverse makeup of the culture”
  • Improve the training of the presenters (they receive training on the technology but not on how to impact students’ cultural understanding)

Changing worldviews and cultural perspectives
“Students in small rural areas have both a greater need to have this information in the curriculum and a greater challenge to incorporate it into their worldview than their peers in urban areas.” p. 1. Isn’t it really difficult to change worldviews? Doesn’t it take a lot of new experiences to change a belief?

Lit Review
p. 5. “Much research has been done on evaluating specific features of videoconferencing technology to the effectiveness of the medium….” That is probably all the studies I’m finding that are on shared classes and business communication.

Distance Learning Technology & Communication
“Yoakam (1995) points out that the real-time broadcast of video-based instruction is the closest replication of the interpersonal relations in traditional classrooms that distance-learning technology offers.” p. 9

p.15 In a distance learning environment, there is a “transactional distance” (Lee & Paulus, 2001) to overcome. “Based on this theory of potential transactional distance, interactions are even more important in distance environments than in face-to-face classrooms.” p. 15. This is why we all evaluate programs and events on their interactions. And why we’re always trying to create even more interactive environments.

Supporting the Connection
p. 14 has a long list of the people involved in making the connection, including the coordinators & techs on both ends, the MCU/bridge staff, and the teacher & students involved (13 people/positions listed). I think it’s an extreme example of how many people could be involved in a connection.

VCs to Introduce, Supplement or Review a Lesson?
How do teachers decide whether to use a videoconference as an introduction to a lesson or as part of the instruction for the unit, or as a culmination? Have you ever thought about that?
“In the beginning, Mr. Gordon wasn’t sure how to best sequence the presentation of the program and the book. He tried presenting the book first on some occasions and the program on others, and concluded that he liked the program as a preview better “because it draws [the students] more [to the book].” p. 92. Maybe it depends on which part of the lesson the teacher wants assistance: the motivation, the instruction, or the review.

Several descriptions of additional lesson activities are included as well: food fairs, discussions of current affairs, etc. that enhance and supplement the learning in the videoconference. i.e. p.96.

Are “loners” more interactive in videoconferences?
p. 100. The students who were considered “loners” in class were the ones who were the most interactive in the videoconferences. Have you noticed this effect with your students?

Descriptions of the videoconferences
Chapter three contains thick descriptions of each of the videoconferences with the people from different countries. The reactions of the students and their greater interest in basic life vs. political issues is similar to what I’ve experienced as well. For example:

[The Australian presenter] made a parallel between the case of the aborigines and that of American slavery. The students became noisy and in attentive during Nancy’s talk about the political issues. It was clear that the students did not find such topics as amusing as that of animals in Australia. p. 69.

While this experience is common to one session videoconferences such as those described, Read Around the Planet sessions I’ve observed, and other short experiences, the programs with Global Nomads stand out in stark contrast. I think the difference with the GNG programs is that the programs are longer than one session and the facilitators push the students into the hot topics and controversial issues quickly. It’s deeper, harder to facilitate, but more in depth learning occurs.

Questions I Have

  • Can one videoconference make a significant impact on student learning? Even in this case where there were six videoconferences, they were about six different countries so are still basically one per topic.
  • If one videoconference doesn’t make an impact, is it worth doing? Are the experiences and awareness level exposure worth the time and effort?
  • What makes some videoconferences more effective than others?
  • Are some topics harder to teach via videoconferencing than others? Or just plain harder to teach?

This topic seems to be one of those that is not easily addressed and a few videoconferences or in class lessons cannot make the impact that the researcher was hoping to see. However the videoconferences provided more experience than the students would have had otherwise. It was only a small step in the direction of fostering intercultural understanding. But an important step nonetheless?

Your Comments
This is the second in a series of research article “notes” that I’ll be posting throughout the summer. I invite you to join the conversation. What ideas struck you? What do you agree with? What questions does this article raise in your mind? Your comments are very much welcomed!

LitReview: A Case Study of the Integration of a Video Learning Center at an Elementary School

Keefe, D. D. (2003). A Case Study of the Integration of a Video Learning Center at an Elementary School. University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA.

Author: David D. Keefe.
Title of article: A Case Study of the Integration of a Video Learning Center at an Elementary School.
Publication year: May 2003.
Database source: Dissertation Abstracts.
Name of journal: n/a.
My Codes: VCContentProviders, VCProjects, VCExperts, VCK12Implementation.

Main point of the article: This dissertation investigates the integration of a video learning center into a K-6 elementary school.

Methods: This is a qualitative study, specifically an interpretive research study. It uses Fourth Generation Evaluation methodology.

The unit of analysis was a K-6 elementary school that has receive recognition for innovation in technology integration. The school has 900 students, including 2 deaf and hard-of-hearing students. 10% of the students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. p. 43 The school is technology rich p. 44, with three full time technology specialists (K3, 4-6 and video learning center).

Data collection included interviews with teachers, observation of students during videoconferences with content providers, and observed teacher and student preparations for an all day UN Videoconference on Human Rights. 24 hours of videoconference, video editing and classroom activity was videotaped and reviewed. Interviews were also conducted with the technology coordinator, principal, gifted education teacher, and video learning center coordinator.

p. 54 “While due to the qualitative design, this study is not generalizable, but it may serve as a model for development and evaluation of similar projects.”

Chapter 5(p. 93-) discusses the claims, concerns and issues with integrating a Video Learning Center into the curriculum in an elementary school.

  • Claim: Positive effects on teaching and learning (improved teacher objectivity, curriculum enrichment, growth opportunity for teachers, facilitates inclusion across curricula, reverse mentoring)
  • Claim: Extension of technology integration (the Internet as amplifier, video learning center worked with the One-to-One program) .
  • Concern: Constructivist learning experiences.
  • Concern: Engagement and student deportment.
  • Issue: Technology and teaching skills needed by VLC coordinator.
  • Issue: Faculty development in application of technology.

My Comments/Notes:
Think about the difference between technology that assists students and teachers in doing the same educational tasks, and technology that is a “transformative application” p. 5.

They still have a complicated videoconference room tied into a TV studio for sending programming to the whole school. Not a mobile cart. But still the same use of VC that I’m interested in.

A study by Honey, McMillan, Culp, & Carrig, 1999 is a 17 year student of technology integration in a New Jersy school district. It identified eight reform strategies integral to the school district’s success. p. 12. The eight strategies are (p. 127-129):

  • Instructional leadership at the building level
  • Effective school improvement teams
  • Extensive professional development
  • Emphasis on student creativity / Expression of ideas in multiple formats
  • Providing different points of entry for children working at different ability levels
  • A de-emphasis on remediation and an emphasis on learning for all
  • Establishment of classroom libraries and media-rich classroom environments
  • Multi-text approach to learning, including integration of technology into instruction

Lit Review Notes
His literature review focuses not just on videoconferencing but on “learning theory related to technology, knowledge management and story telling, web as a new learning environment, and TV and digital video learning.” p. 10.

Page 18 has a nice chart of teaching paradigms related to models of distance/distributed learning. (i.e. experiential simulations – think CET CLC’s e-Missions; and collaborative learning; think MysteryQuest.)

Need to look further into Dede’s research from 1996 and 2002 that shows the critical components for success, including “involvement of trained coordinators at every implementation site” which is a main focus of my intended research.

Hayden 1999 is another study to look into further. “K-12 teacher panelists who had prior experience using videoconferencing were found to have stronger agreement with constructivist elements.” Hayden has a list of characteristics of videoconference systems that support constructivist learning.

Literature review process comment. He mentions studies based on a dated technology (analog videotape editing) and says most of them have”limited direct relevance”; but then discusses one study that has enduring relevance.

Definitions are a big problem with videoconference research. Keefe uses the term “distributed learning environment”. “A distributed learning environment augments and amplifies the classroom- and textbook-based instruction that characterize much of the other instruction in the various curriculums in K-12 schools.” p. 16. Page 19 as another application of the term “distributed learning environment” to mean where distance learning is combined with face-to-face.

He does talk about satellite “videoconference” as well. I wonder now if my initial preferred focus of H323 videoconferencing is too narrow and if in actuality the lessons learned from CuSeeMe and similar tools apply to today’s videoconferencing as well.

p. 32. Another definition. Videoconferencing learning in an elementary school “as a tool for augmenting and amplifying classroom instruction.” Also interesting from p. 32, the stakeholders for this study feel the combination of video conferencing, video production and close circuit transmission through the school are essential for success.

Good Ideas
Here’s an interesting concept: “computer supported cooperative learning.” p.15. How about videoconference supported cooperative learning? We are so totally doing that with Jazz next week. MysteryQuest definitely does that too.

p. 57. The school uses the Boyer Model (The Basic School: A Community for Learning) which provides the school “with a way to measure whether the integration of technology is consistent with the overall beliefs and goals to which the school has subscribed.” See p. 58 & 59 as well. The vision for technology in the school blends with the Basic School vision. Imagine having a clear vision on how technology fits the school’s instructional vision in the schools you work with!

p. 62 Weekly team meetings “provide a forum for teachers to discuss appropriate uses for technology in different subject areas, and to give each other technical assistance with the use of specific pieces of equipment. Another excellent way to provide ongoing support for teachers.

Need to know more about p. 31. What the research shows and what the research does not show. “The extension of videoconference learning to the elementary grades is an evolving application that is just beginning to receive research attention.”

p. 51. The study results should be viewed “as limited to application in technology-rich learning environments.”

In the Results section (chapter 4), the author describes a “day in the life of the video learning center” with various activities compressed into one day. The VCs included hosting a holocaust survivor as he spoke to high school students in two other states; a student-to-student interaction on rockets with a class in Northern Ireland; a videoconference with an oceanographic institute;; and a videoconference with several schools and the United Nations.

The Results section describes several factors that are key to successful videoconferences:

  • students and teachers preparing for the videoconerence
  • the VC coordinator helping the teachers select programs
  • the VC coordinator giving an introduction to VC behavior before the conference starts
  • students are encouraged to use “their playground voice” to speak loud enough for the microphone

Things I’ve Noticed Too
p.53-54. Even this technology-rich school had teachers who didn’t want to change their curriculum for a VC that just showed up. “The most negative factor involves some teacher reluctance to take advantage of serendipitous opportunities that occur during the school year that would require altering the previously agreed to curriculum plan.” 🙂 Sound familiar???

p. 91. Kids cared so much about their international videoconference that they came in on a snow day to participate.

p. 116 “Integrating a facility like the VLC into curriculum requires more than just an investment in space, technology and communications infrastructure. The capabilities of the VLC Coordinator have a strong role in determining the success of the overall program.” Yes!!! I really believe this!

New Thoughts
p. 97 The VC coordinator, who has seen many videoconferencing, said, “I’ve worked over the years, especially in video-conferencing, helping at each grade level, and the teachers become familiar with it, realizing how it really compacts curriculum as opposed to adding on one more thing they have to do.” Do your teachers see it this way? What does it take to find the right opportunities that not only match, but compact curriculum?

p. 126 “The videoconference learning milieu also helps teachers observe and reflect upon their students’ interactions to a greater extent than in most other settings, and teachers in this study reported that they quite frequently saw behaviors in the VLC that they had not previously observed in the classroom.” This is really interesting. What does that mean for that student’s learning?

Your Comments
This is the first in a series of research article “notes” that I’ll be posting throughout the summer. I invite you to join the conversation. What ideas struck you? What do you agree with? What questions does this article raise in your mind? Your comments are very much welcomed!