First Reads…

31 08 2007

Reading this article has taken me back to my Pepperdine days. However, I found that there are several authors that I need to review. I was well exposed to Papert through Stager but need to check out Alfred Bork, and Thomas Dwyer.

At this time, I have read the introduction to The comptuer in school: tutor, tool, tutee by robert Taylor (need to get the book as this looks like is would be very good- a must for my book shelf)

Also read “New millennium research for educational technology: a call for a national research agenda” by Roblyer and Knezek

The following are my comments on the second article:

It is funny how the discussion regarding the quality of methods in educational research surrounding technology rage on. I agree with Soloman’s “post-modern” view employing both qualitative and quantitative methods in educational research. There often seems to be conflict in research communities over qualitative versus quantitative research. There is something about “numbers” and the ability to refer to a number that is valued in today’s test happy environment.

Part of the problem today is the inability to define what learning, or as I like to say, “understanding” looks like. I believe that Vygotsky, Piaget, Papert and other constructivists (and constructionist- Papert) were right to criticize the methods of measure related to learning and media. The problem, I believe, is that the media comparison studies are the type of studies that are desired by the public and by politicians. These are the type of studies where we can clearly compare one school or teacher’s work with another. The numbers are easy to read and tell a clear story. The question I have is are they telling the real story?

Clark adds that there were difficulties with the study methods related to the different experiences students would have by experiencing different teachers. How do you control for this? This is a common research design problem and while statistical methods can control for some of the variance, this problem still exists today. Not every student learns the same thing. Even with the same teacher, the class dynamics can make each class experience different. If you believe that learning is experiential and that knowledge is constructed, then it follows that every student will come away with a slightly different understanding. This is not something that is easy to measure.

The history of computers being placed in classrooms with little pedagogical instruction is well documented. So are the many failures related to this practice. The media comparison studies only served to accentuate these failures and add to the public distaste for technology expenditures.

Look forward to future research agendas, I would have to agree with the authors point regarding rational for technology use. In a profession that is slow to change, a reason must be demonstrated. I believe that one possible reason, for the use of technology can be found in research surrounding the possible cognitive changes that may be occurring resulting from interactions with volumes of digital media. It is not so much that it is digital but that students today interact with information in ways that were never possible. This is an area where little research has been conducted (and one where I have great interest) but I believe holds tremendous promise.

Epistemology is another area of research that would be important in evaluating the role and efficacy of technology in the classroom. What does it mean to “know” and how do you know that you know? What knowledge is relevant to today? Our students develop “knowledge islands” which often lead to the “inert knowledge” discussed by Brown, Collins and Duguid. How much of today’s schooling is relevant to knowledge of the 21st century? Technology has placed volumes of information at the fingertips of students but what information is good, needed or relevant? These are the questions that must be addressed today. Research looking at how students collect, manage and process information in today’s rich media/technology environment should be important to understanding the evolving role of the computer in the classroom. However, this type of research will also help define new roles for teachers. These roles will look more like “master learners” as they help their students engage in learning in the 21st century classroom.

When the research is less about matching use of technology with scores on a test and focuses on how technology extends the possibilities and how it matches the current learning and cognitive styles of today’s student, we will see research that could really make a difference.

CWB

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