Tag Archives: Research

Reflection: Muddled Thinking about K12, Higher Ed, Learning and Research

I feel the beginning of a shift in my thinking. I can hardly articulate it right now, but here’s a stab at it….

When I was working in K12, I always had this thought that most higher ed schools of education were “behind the times” in use of technology. I know, sounds terrible to put it in writing, and potentially shocking, but I had that kind of a gut feeling. Teachers always raved about the practical usefulness of our training, workshops, and courses.

But now it seems like I’m seeing a little bit of a light (or going to the dark side as my K12 buddies might think!).  I’m seeing a focus on depth of learning, systematic assessment, concern about using technology in ways that actually encourage higher level thinking – that focuses on learning as the innovation – not necessarily the latest gadgets or free online tools.

When I reflect on the majority of what I hear in edtech circles – it seems like much of it is racing after the latest cool tool. There are certainly some excellent exceptions in the K12 world – thinking of Whirlidurb’s work in particular. You could think of more, I’m sure!

What do you think? I know now I have readers from both worlds… am I crazy? Maybe it’s not really a higher ed vs. K12 thing. Instead it’s a focus on gadgets vs. a focus on learning. And what I’ve seen in the three sessions I’ve attended so far here at AERA, there’s a strong focus on learning and how we know if students are learning. That’s where it’s at, right?!

I’m also thinking that the thoughtfulness I’m seeing is not making it out to the K12 world very well. For example, there are interesting taxonomies on wiki use that would be incredibly helpful in all the workshops out there for wiki use in the classroom. I guess that’s the point of the conference theme – To Know is Not Enough – but it also seems to me that the structure of publishing and research in higher ed puts barriers to this knowledge getting out to where it can be used.

Videoconferencing Adjectives

I’m continuing this little mini-series with some of the results from a recent survey of my top VC-using teachers. Read more about it in the first post of this series. Remember, they are using videoconferencing to support curriculum instruction (not full length courses).

The question featured in this post is the following:

If your principal or superintendent walked into your classroom during a videoconference, give five adjectives to describe what they would see happening.

Videoconferencing Adjectives

Now isn’t this a nice set of words!

Notice the motivation adjectives: excited, smiles, amazed, happy, laughter, interesting, interested.

Notice the learning adjectives: learning, engaged reflective, involvement/involved, attentive, cooperative, active, interactive/interacting, communication, higher-level, knowledge, perform, reinforcement.

I did take out the word students – as many teachers wrote “students” after each adjective – and so it was huge again like the first wordle I did in this series. But I wanted you to see the adjectives larger and clearer.

See if you can find the one word that isn’t so positive. 🙂 Yes, I’ve seen a few kids do this in a VC. Have you?

Are these good reasons to use videoconferencing in your curriculum? Why or why not? Please comment.

Negative Things About Using VC in the Classroom

Yesterday we began this little journey of examining results from a little survey I did last May. Review the previous post for more information on the survey.

Today, let’s look at the companion question:

Please identify three to five negative things about using videoconferencing in your classroom.

Negative Things About Using VC in the Classroom

What words jump out at you this time? TIME! What ways are time challenging for videoconferencing?

  • Time zones
  • Time to schedule a videoconference
  • Time to prepare the students (and yourself) for a videoconference
  • Time to get all the classes at the level/grade to participate
  • What else can you think of?

Scheduling and technical problems stand out in this list too. While these teachers tend to be in my schools with better bandwidth and infrastructure, they still have done enough VCs to run into glitches.

I’ll share a couple full answers with you. This one is from Lacy Payne, F.C.Reed Middle School, in Bridgman, Michigan, (RUS grant school) whose students have done ASK programs, MysteryQuest, The Cleveland Museum of Art (to name a few), and has also participated in the Jazz workshop.

I have a couple of experiences where I had to reschedule because of technology problems, scheduling problems sometimes occur, time availability, and cost. I have two sessions of classes I teach and in order to get them both in I have to have them at the same time which creates a large number of students upwards of 50-60 kids. If money wasn’t an issue it would be much easier to do one conference per class.

From Peggy Clore, Coloma Middle School, (RUS grant school) 6th/7th grade language arts teacher:

1) Preparation takes time out of other lessons I’ve planned, so I have to make sure I’m covering as many of the GLCE’s as I can. Editor’s note: GLCEs are Michigan’s Grade Level Content Expectations.
2) Snow days cancel programs:)
3) Hearing may be difficult due to the other classes’ facilities.

And of course, this one is my favorite answer from a teacher who preferred to be anonymous in the survey results.

I don’t consider any part to be a negative worth griping about. If forced to nit-pick, the time frame is sometimes out of classwork sequence.

Are these negative things a barrier for these teachers? Read yesterday’s post!

So, please comment – either with your own list of negative things about using VC in the classroom, or with your own interpretation of the data represented above, or your own ideas of how to address these challenges.

Positive Things Abut Using VC in the Classroom

Last May (2008), I asked twenty of my teachers who used VC most often to complete a little survey. This is the beginning of sharing the results. Each teacher had used videoconferencing at least 6 times in the school year, and the teacher using it the most had done 12 videoconferences in the 2007-2008 school year. All of these were “curriculum videoconferencing” or using VC to support curriculum instruction.

In this post, I’ll share the answers to one of the questions. I decided to use Wordle to represent the data visually. Interestingly, it’s quantitative data (counting the number of times the word is using) represented in a more qualitative way.

Please identify three to five positive things about using videoconferencing in your classroom.

Positive Things About Using VC in the Classroom

Isn’t it interesting that the word students is so huge?! Learning, experiences, and opportunity jump out at me. It’s all about the students, isn’t it! Click the graphic to see the words much larger. Think about each of those other descriptive words.

And, I selected one full answer to share with you. This answer is by Peggy Clore, 6th and 7th grade language arts teacher at the Coloma Middle School, Coloma, Michigan (one of our RUS grant schools). She took the Jazz workshop a couple years ago and has been hooked on VC since. One of her more memorable VCs was the Around the World project in April 2008. She has also participated in the ASK interview with Jim Stovall and Read Around the Planet.

1) Students have an authentic audience, causing them to take greater care with their work.
2) Students learn to create valid questions through the ASK kit.
3) Students reflect upon what they learn and sometimes change their thinking or make connections to what they know.
4) Some of our challenging students’ behavior is so much better because they’re interested in what we’re doing.
5) When we connect to another part of the country or a foreign country, we open our students’ world to ideas they may not learn through a text book. Most of our students do not have opportunity to travel or see areas outside of our rural community and county.

So, how would you answer this question? Please comment – either with your own list of positive things about using VC in the classroom, or with your own interpretation of the data represented above.