Major Project Blog III – Research Relief

This post is going to piggyback a bit off of my last post regarding my major project.  That post focused on engaging with the “non-believers” of our plan and this post is going to do that as well to a certain degree.

I found myself being quite relieved last weekend.  One of the requirements of our major project is to find relevant research that supports our proposal.  Admittedly, this is something that I probably should have done earlier because what if there wasn’t any? Even though we (myself and Adam) think that our plan has merit, what if nobody else does? What if our plan is too simple? Or even worse, what if our idea just isn’t necessary? It would be a tough sell to administrators/board office officials (and Kirsten and Stephen) if we came up with a plan that isn’t actually backed by research.  

Fortunately, it turns out that our proposal is in fact backed by research and there are other schools/districts that have attempted variations of our plan.

In an article for Education World, author Sally Bowman highlighted the Oswego School District (New York) and their extensive staff ed-tech development program for staff:

“Teachers who work in our district have to take certain prerequisite courses in order to get computers into their classrooms. To get a teacher station in their rooms, teachers have to take a basic computer course on working in a networked Windows environment. To get four student stations in their rooms, they have to complete another in-service course.”

“Elementary teachers must take a 15-hour course on the software program we use from Pearson Education Technologies. That course shows teachers how to integrate the software into their instruction,” Chamberlain said. “Secondary teachers must take an integration course on how to use various programs to enhance the classroom teaching and learning experience. Finally, all teachers must take a series of three courses — Basic Internet, Search Tools and Strategies, and Internet in the Classroom — in order to get Internet access.”

Of the programs that I was able to research, this one bears the greatest resemblance to ours.  While this one is done on a bigger scale, the key thing here is that they are also working from the ground up. We can’t use technology to transform education (see SAMR model) if we don’t actually know how to use that technology!

In addition to the article featuring the Oswego School District, I read an interesting research paper by Mable Williams (Jackson State University) that examines technology training experiences from teacher candidacy to in-service professional development.  One of the key findings from Williams’ research that supports our plan states:

“In a nationwide survey of K-12 teachers, answers revealed that technology infrastructure in schools has improved. Training support, however, must become a priority to ensure that teachers understand how to effectively integrate technology into their lesson plans. Sixty-percent of K-12 teachers believe adequate preparation has not occurred to support the level of implementation of technology to enhance student outcomes. Ninety-one percent of teachers believe that current training on using technology is necessary to model 21st Century learning. Furthermore, the responses of the survey reveal that teachers would like to receive an all-day professional development session on fundamental training, applying, and integrating technology” (p.5).

This once again highlights both the fact that teachers are not given the training needed to properly integrate technology into the classroom AND the desire for teachers to actually receive that training.

Something else that I found interesting while researching was looking at the challenges that schools/divisions/staff have faced when training teachers to properly use technology.  Without question, the most common challenge encountered was a lack of dedicated time.

In a dissertation for Fielding Graduate University in California, Nathanial Bankirer discussed this very issue.  

“One perceived training challenge of the IHTD (In-House Technology Development) program agreed to by 12 educator focus group participants is that of the limited dedicated time for the program. One participant noted, There is only one hour per week of dedicated time training with technology; I need more time to be successful” (p.40).

A second educator stated “just like our students, we need more than a single serving of technology for success. It would be much better with ongoing training” (p. 40).

One perceived training challenge of the IHTD program agreed to by 19 educator focus group participants is the limited follow-up training on a specific topic. One participant mentioned, “I would love to be able to explore one topic in multiple sessions. I do not quite get all of the details in a single sitting” (p.40).

This highlights one of the main concerns I have about our plan – is it extensive enough to make meaningful change or is our plan a classic example of making it look like we’re accomplishing something on the surface but failing to actually make accomplish anything of substance.  Unfortunately, without putting our plan in action, there is no way we can know for sure.

Overall, doing extensive research proved to be beneficial.  It provided us with data that we can use to sell our plan while also providing us with some food for thought regarding the challenges others have faced when attempting to enact similar plans.  Unfortunately, the one thing that I was unable to track down during my research were examples from closer to home with the bulk of the research coming from the United States. That said, I believe that there is enough material out there to prove that our plan is necessary.

Author: scottgardiner12

Husband/dad, teacher, sports-geek, traveller, and cantankerous grad student. Oh, and an avid fan of both puns and sarcasm.

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