The ninth – and first for today – session that I am blogging here at SITE 2017 related to K-12 Online and Blended Learning is:
How Do I Know It’s Working? A Teacher’s Search for Evidence
Presider: Rena Robey, Johns Hopkins University/DoD, United StatesMost educators agree that educational efficacy increases when teachers use data to make instructional decisions. Teachers also develop experiential knowledge that assists in many of the day-to-day decisions made in the classroom. When teachers begin using adaptive online programs to deliver individualized instruction, the roles of data-driven decision making and personal practical knowledge shift. The online program can continually assess the needs of each student and deliver targeted instruction to meet these needs, diminishing teachers’ need to guide daily instruction. Teachers are left with the task of evaluating the online program, a task that calls for greater reliance on measurable evidence. In this paper, we present a summary of one teacher’s experience shifting from directing all instruction to searching for evidence that technology is meeting student needs. We then discuss implications for pre- and in-service teacher education.
The presenter actually started her session early, so I missed the first few slides. The presentation was based on her thesis research, which was based on three semi-structured interviews each with 14 online teachers in two Western states. The main things that these teachers talked about was that they tried to balance school and district requirements, efficacy evidence that they had access to themselves, and the individual student needs – which generally resulted in tension from the teachers perspective.
Based on these initial results (and the literature), the presenter created a framework for these teacher decision making which focused on personal/practical knowledge (intuition) vs. data generated by the online systems – and in terms of the type and nature of content presented, as well as the specific interventions, the online tool often takes over and makes the decisions on these items on behalf of the teacher. And, in most cases, the mechanisms that these tools use to make these decisions are not transparent to teachers (i.e., the system generates reports, but the teacher has no way to understand whether those reports should be trusted).