New VC Dissertation Published: Kindergarten VC

This morning I received an exciting alert in my inbox. Another dissertation has been published on videoconferencing. This one is by Debra Piecka – who organized the connection we did with Namibia a couple summers ago.

I’m sharing the abstract here, and will read and post more about it later. Here’s the direct link to the dissertation in ProQuest if you have access to that dissertation database.

Show and tell: Learning with interactive videoconferencing in kindergarten
by Piecka, Debra C. Burkey, Ed.D., Duquesne University, 2008, 426 pages; AAT 3338618
Abstract (Summary)

The research investigated how kindergartners make meaning using interactive videoconferencing. The study explored two research questions: (1) What types of meanings are being formed by the kindergartners during interactive videoconferences and,( 2) What are the nature of young children’s emerging inquiries and dialogue surrounding their use of interactive videoconferencing in their classroom? The study embodied a Vygotskian perspective as the theoretical framework in order to meet demands associated with the young participants’ vulnerability, developmental appropriateness, and the students’ interactive learning environment. Employing an ethnographic, participant observation methodology, the research design was informed by three criteria: (1) a pilot study, (2) Miles and Huberman’s (1994a) recurring themes in qualitative data analysis, and (3) literature review results emphasizing the nuances of contemporary culture. Field observation occurred from October 2007 through February 2008 in a Southwestern Pennsylvania kindergarten classroom. Students participated in 7 videoconferences with distant peers or content experts. Data from a gingerbread and puppetry videoconference and an astronomy program were selected for further analysis based on their ability to illustrate poignant examples of how the kindergartners formed meaning during collaborations. Data analysis procedures involved the importing of dialogue from videoconferencing transcriptions, field notes, and other artifacts into the ATLAS.ti qualitative data analysis software for open coding, data display, and grounded theory development.

Results developed from open coding and concept maps in ATLAS.ti informed the following theory development. First, learning with interactive videoconferencing in kindergarten supports meaning making from four Vygotskian tenets: (1) the social origins of learning, (2) sign and tool use through mediated activity, (3) the importance of language, and (4) support for the zone of proximal development. Additionally, the students’ meaning making involved the tenets’ entwinement rather than the solitary occurrence of individual tenets. Regarding the kindergartners’ emerging inquiries, during sustained interactive videoconferencing levels, children’s inquiries and dialogue evidenced exploratory talk that was purposeful, reflective and self-directed. It also indicated comfort with the technology. This study is unique in its multidisciplinary application of Vygotskian learning theory to kindergartners’ meaning making with videoconferencing and provides a foundation for extended use of qualitative methods to examine young children’s’ learning with technology.

I think it’s so interesting that this study is on kindergarten students.  Last week I tested with Richard Sands for Read Around the Planet, and he said his kindergarten teachers use VC the most. One of my “top teachers” that I studied last spring was a kindergarten teacher who did 12 VCs in the 2007-2008 school year.  One of the studies that I’ve been using in my collaborations presentation is on a kindergarten sustained collaboration. And, finally, one of Sue Porter’s favorite Read Around the Planet stories is of a kindergartener. So, how about you? How are your kindergarten classes using VC?

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