Posts in My Ph.D Research

Article Critique: “Together we are better”: Professional learning networks for teachers

As I continue to get closer to starting the process of my dissertation, I am finding works that really piqued my interest and connect with my passion for improving teaching practices. This summer, I took the class EDUC-R685 Technology Integration in Theory and Practice with Dr. Anne Leftwich. She introduced me to the work of Torrey Trust, Daniel Krutka, and Jeffrey Carpenter. Their work in social media, online PLNs, and teacher professional development falls extremely well in line with my areas of practice and future research interests.

I am currently finishing up my classwork for EDUC-Y520 Strategies for Educational Inquiry and was asked to do an article critique related to my area of interests. I chose to critique a more recent article by Trust, Krutka, and Carpenter:

Trust, T., Krutka, D. G., & Carpenter, J. P. (2016). “Together we are better”: Professional  learning networks for teachers. Computers & education, 102, 15-34.

I developed a rubric based on Creswell’s (2015) Six Steps in the Process of Research (indexed at the bottom of this post) and used that rubric to evaluate the article. Here is my article critique:

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Rubric Used:

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Links to both texts if you want a pdf view:

Article Critique

Article Critique Rubric

Image courtesy of: Mathieu Plourde

Could online PLNs be valuable for all teachers?

One of the research projects I was working on this summer was trying to answer this question: Could online PLNs be valuable for all teachers?

I’ve often heard teachers promote the use of social media based on their own personal experiences and not based on research. In answering this question, I wanted to see what the research showed as effective or not effective in online PLNs and the use of social media for teachers. Probably not surprising to teachers that frequently use social media was that teachers feel less isolated or lonely, develop a sense of camaraderie, and connect to valuable resources.

One thing I found very interesting was the type of tool used had an impact on the effectiveness. The studies I found primarily examined Twitter, Facebook, and Edmodo. Of these, Twitter and Facebook had positive results for developing an effective online PLN, whereas Edmodo didn’t appear to be very effective.
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Link here: Could online PLNs be valuable for all teachers

My paper is linked here so you can see the whole work. I still need to do some revisions to get it up to publication standards, but I welcome any feedback readers want to offer. Do you think online PLNs are valuable for all teachers?

 

Photo courtesy of F Delventhal

Thoughts on Knowledge for Technology Integration

This week in my current class, Teacher Tech Integration and Professional Development, we were asked to make a visual representation of some knowledge or entry-level skills teachers need for technology integration. I decided to use Google Docs and Google Drawings then made a screencast explanation (embedded below).

In the video, I make a reference to Ertmer. Here is the main article I am referencing; it is a seminal work in technology integration in education:

Ertmer, P. A. (1999). Addressing first-and second-order barriers to change: Strategies for technology integration. Educational Technology Research and Development, 47(4), 47-61.

If you have an interest in the topic, I suggest you read the work of Peg Ertmer  or some of the more recent work by Ertmer and Anne Ottenbreit-Leftwich.

Visual Representation
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Screencast:
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbEs7t17JxQ?rel=0]

Can a Student Technology Team Help Build Teacher Self-Efficacy in Technology Use in the Classroom?

Part of my professional role is to help teachers integrate technology and innovation into their classrooms. Therefore, it is interesting to me to explore ways to facilitate that process and also identify barriers preventing teachers from this integration. Ertmer and Ottenbreit-Leftwich (2013) determined two main categories of barriers teachers face. The first being external inhibitors like access to devices and the other being internal inhibitors concerning pedagogical practices. They found that schools, for the most part, have eliminated many of the external factors for teachers. However, teachers with teacher-centered pedagogical practices were less likely to integrate technology or innovation than teachers who practiced student-centered pedagogies. Which would imply that teachers need more training in student-centered pedagogy and not necessarily in technical skills. However, it has been found that teachers who get school support on technical skills and knowledge are more likely to have positive beliefs in regard to technology integration (Stanhope & Corn, 2014).

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Photo courtesy of Indiana University School of Education

One theme I see in much of the literature is the concept of teacher self-efficacy in successful integration. Teachers who feel as though they have the ability to be successful will be more likely to accept initiatives for technology integration in their schools. This builds from the ideas of Everett Rogers and his work on Innovation Diffusion Theory (IDT). The 5 attributes from Rogers that teachers need to aid in building self-efficacy are relative advantage, compatibility, complexity, trialability, and observability (Surry & Ely, n.d.).

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School leaders want to help teachers grow their knowledge of technology and self-efficacy and the most powerful strategy appears to be helping teachers gain personal experience. That can be through hands-on workshops, but also hearing of other teachers’ successful experiences (Ertmer & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, 2010). In the same article, Ertmer and Ottenbreit-Leftwich (2010) note many different strategies for building teacher self-efficacy, including providing access to models, giving teachers time to play, and other, but one is missing from the list that I believe could be important to consider and that is Student Technology Teams (STT). Therefore, the question I propose asking: 

Does the formation of a trained Student Technology Team used in professional develop help with teacher self-efficacy and thus aid in more successful technology integration?

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It has been seen in research that an STT can be helpful in supporting 1:1 initiatives (Corn, et. al). Ellis (2004) also found that a Student Technology Team known as Technology Fellows can be beneficial when university students are paired with a university professor. Therefore, it goes to reason that having students demonstrate and model uses of technology can bridge the understanding of technology use and student-centered learning. Viewing the successful experience of uses in the classroom, albeit from a student and not a teacher, can benefit the development of self-efficacy. Ertmer and Ottenbreit-Leftwich (2010) concluded, “Perhaps one of the best ways to support teacher change is by providing opportunities for them to witness how the change benefits their students.” Doesn’t it seem to logically follow that teachers will see the direct benefits to their students by observing and learning from the work of a Student Technology Team?

 

References:

Corn, J. O., Oliver, K., Hess, C. E., Halstead, E. O., Argueta, R., Patel, R. K., & Huff, J. D. (2010). A Computer for every student and teacher: Lessons learned about planning and implementing a successful 1: 1 learning initiative in schools. Educational Technology, 50(6), 11.

Ellis, R. A. (2004). Modeling Technology in Preservice Education Classrooms: A Literature Review. Faculty development to help preservice educators model the integration of technology in the classroom: perspectives from an action research case study, 1050, 10.

Ertmer, P. A., & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A. T. (2010). Teacher technology change: How knowledge, confidence, beliefs, and culture intersect. Journal of research on Technology in Education, 42(3), 255-284.

Ertmer, P.A. & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A. (2013). Removing obstacles to the pedagogical changes required by Jonassen’s vision of authentic technology-enabled learning. Computers & Education, X, X-X.

Stanhope, D. & Corn, J. (2014) Acquiring teacher commitment to 1:1 initiatives: The role of the technology facilitator. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 46(3), 252-276.

Surry, D. W., & Ely, D. P. (n.d.). Adoption, Diffusion, Implementation, and Institutionalization of Educational Technology. Retrieved June 19, 2013, from University of South Alabama: http://www.usouthal.edu/coe/bset/surry/papers/adoption/chap.htm