Virtual School Meanderings

July 17, 2019

EDTECH537 – Discussion Entry: Do Practitioners Care About Research?

The final model entry for Week 3 in my EDTECH537 course is a discussion entry.

So I am being interviewed in an asynchronous fashion by an academic body and in response to one of their questions I wrote:

I have to be honest and say the premise of this question actually frustrates me a great deal. And the reason it frustrates me is because of the significant divide that exists between educational researchers and classroom teachers. I often hear teachers acknowledging that there’s no silver bullet when it comes to education, but in their very next breath they will often promote whatever “magic” solution some vendor is selling them or an ideologically-focused unproven, intervention that some organization is pushing. This is true even when educational researchers try to distill their ideas to make them more accessible and briefer, many teachers the time to read “that research.” While it is clear that many teachers are overburdened, I would argue that many simply don’t have the patience to explore the nuances of what is not a black and white context.

In response to this comment, the person interviewing me left a comment on the “many teachers the time to read ‘that research'” comment.  The interviewer asked:

Why would they lie?

To which I responded:

I don’t believe they are lying… People make time for what they value. I think they have the time to read the research, they just don’t value it enough to do it. So yeah, I guess I do think they are lying.

Then in response to the statement “I would argue that many simply don’t have the patience to explore the nuances of what is not a black and white context,” the interviewer asked:

I do wonder whether their “impatience” it might be situated in the demands and training – such that teachers may not have been given insights into how and why they might explore things in this way…? If not, can you provide some references that teachers are more impatient than others in the community?

To which I responded:

I’m not sure of this… If I had a dime for the number of times I heard folks during their pre-service education programs make some reference to the real learning happening during their student teaching or that what they learned in their courses wasn’t connected to the “real world” of education, I could retire now. In fact, I’d go so far to say that most beginning teachers feel that their education classes were simply state mandated hoops they had to jump through and the only place they actually learned was as an apprentice during their student teaching.

She also commented:

I would agree – in this way the failing might be understood to be less about the individuals in the programs (the teachers) and more about the lack of demands and supports we (the academy) put on teachers to engage thoughtfully with research and data. Hence my point.

And I responded:

I’m not sure that is actually the case though. When we are working with undergraduate education students, they have to take courses in curriculum design, teaching, and educational psychology – all of which include theory and models and other research-based ideas. I honestly believe that most of these students think that these courses are there because some politician or bureaucrat or academic that knows nothing about really teaching in an actual classroom decided it – not because they will leave anything useful by taking them. And the disdain many of them having about their teacher education programs – minus the student teaching experience – a year into actually teaching is quite amazing.

This interaction occurred over the weekend, and it got me thinking since I have an audience of K-12 practitioners, I wanted to ask…  Do practitioners actually care about educational research or is it simply not important enough to make the time?

July 16, 2019

EDTECH537 – List Entry: My Five Most Cited Articles On Mendeley

Yesterday, in my Week 3 entry, I indicated that today I would post a list entry to model for my EDTECH537 students. Last year I focused on my five most cited articles on Google Scholar, so this year I figured I would focus on my five most cited articles on Mendeley.  Note that Mendeley citations are based upon data from Scopus.

1. The reality of virtual schools: A review of the literature

311 Readers
119 Citations

This article is my most cited article – regardless of platform.  It was a literature review that I created from the chapter 2 of my dissertation.  One of my co-chairs, Dr. Reeves, influenced my thinking around that portion of my dissertation – and, as such, I listed him as a co-author.

2. Research and practice in K-12 online learning: A review of open access literature

176 Readers
65 Citations

This article is often my second most cited article – regardless of platform.  It was a literature review that Cathy, Tom, and I collaborated that primarily used the categories of the iNACOL standards as a way to organize the literature.

3. Asynchronous and synchronous online teaching: Perspectives of Canadian high school distance education teachers

145 Readers
38 Citations

I’ll be honest and say that my involvement in this article was minimal.  It was initially to write the literature review portion for this manuscript, but the one that I wrote didn’t quite fit the results that were generated so Liz re-wrote the literature review (but were good enough to maintain my name on the manuscript).

4. Social networking in cyberschooling: Helping to make online learning less isolating

43 Readers
20 Citations

This article was a collaboration with Cory while he was still working at Odyssey Charter High School and maintain a closed Ning for students to use as a way to maintain the co-curricular and extra curricular activities within the online school that you would often expect in a brick-and-mortar school.

5. (a) “Everybody is their own Island” Teacher disconnection in a virtual school

114 Readers
17 Citations

This article was one of three articles that Abby published from her dissertation (as she did an article format that generated three different articles – one for each research question).  While I wasn’t her chair, my contributions to her dissertation warranted me being included in the authorship.

5. (b) Homemade powerpoint games: A constructionist alternative to webquests

TechTrends (2009) 53(5)
48 Readers
17 Citations

This was an article that I wrote with several colleagues back when I was a doctoral student at the University of Georgia and had grown an interest in the notion of homemade PowerPoint games.  Along with my colleagues at UGA, and later a doctoral student at Wayne State University, we conducted most of the research done on Dr. Rieber’s conception of ‘homemade PowerPoint games.’

Note for the EDTECH537 students…  See how I have provided a short annotation for each item.  In many cases, people just provide a list of item with no rationale for why something is two instead of three or why two similar items are both included on the list.  A short description or rationale is always useful when writing both lists and links entries.

July 15, 2019

EDTECH537 – Links Entry: My Five Most Viewed Presentations On Slideshare

Earlier this morning, in my Week 3 entry, I indicated that today I would post a links entry to model for my EDTECH537 students. So…

Last year the Links Entry I wrote for EDTECH537 was entitled My Five Most Downloaded Articles On Academia.edu.  So this year I figured I would focus on my presentation slides that I post to my Slideshare account.  Unlike the Academia.edu, which will give me statistics since an item was first uploaded, Slideshare will only give me the views per year in the Analytics.  I can organize the presentations by “most popular,” but that also factors in the length of time on the platform (i.e., a presentation uploaded a year ago with 100 views is more popular than a presentation uploaded three years ago with 200 views).  So I decided to provide both groups (and there is some overlap).

My Five Most Viewed Presentations On Slideshare for the Past Year

1. Job Talk (2012): University of Western Ontario

In the Summer of 2012 I made the decision to withdraw my application for promotion and tenure, and go on the job market.  We had a new Dean in the College of Education at Wayne State University who believed that faculty should wait until their seventh year to go up for P&T, and run the risk of not having a job in their eighth year if they were unsuccessful (for those not in academia, typically a faculty member would up up in their sixth year and, if they were unsuccessful, the university could offer them a one year contract as they sought another position).  As the Dean was against my sixth year application, I made the decision to withdraw the application and seek to leave Wayne State.  One of the first on campus interviews I had – and the first one I had ever had for an educational leadership position – was at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada.  This was the research-focused job talk I gave.  As a side note that Dean stepped down in the third year of a five year contract, after the faculty in the College had voted over 90% no confidence in her leadership.

2. Brigham Young University – The State of K-12 Online Learning Research: Looking Forward

In February 2013 my wife and I were in Utah visiting with a friend of our’s, and since I had a lot of colleagues and friends at Brigham Young University, Charles Graham asked that I come down and speak to the doctoral and Master’s students there.  So this session was a focus on where I saw the field of K-12 online learning at the time from a research perspective, as well as avenues of future inquiry that the students in the room who might have an interest in the topic might pursue.

3. Job Talk: Research (2013) – Kennesaw State University

Similar to the first item, this was the job talk that I gave during an on campus interview at Kennesaw State University.  Generally speaking, these are short sessions that tell the audience a little about you and your background and then focus on your research.  Some institutions that have more of a teaching focus will ask for some content about one’s teaching style or philosophy.  It is interesting to look at these different sets of job talk slides, as it will often times reveal the specific items that the institution has asked you to focus on.

4. MVLRI 2015 Webinar – Eight Trends in K-12 Online and Blended Learning and Their Implications for Research

This was a webinar that Tom Clark and I provided for the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute on the eight trends that we had identified as flowing throughout the book that he and I edited entitled Online, Blended, and Distance Education in Schools: Building Successful Programs.

5. ON MoE 2019: Overview of e-Learning in Canada

This session was a presentation that I gave to one of the research units in the Ontario Ministry of Education.  Interestingly, they had reached out to me because the American Education Research Association was holding their annual meeting in Toronto and I was attending.  So my presentation and the focus were actually set sometime in late January or early February.  But then on 15 March the province, in somewhat reckless fashion, made their Education that Works for You – Modernizing Classrooms…  So my presentation took on a whole different focus.

My Five Most Popular Presentations On Slideshare

1. Job Talk (2012): University of Western Ontario

See above description.

2. Sabbatical (Massey University-Wellington) – Blogging in Higher Education: Examining How the Tools Can be Used for Personal Development and with Students

One of the nice things about Wayne State University was they had a procedure for a one semester sabbatical after three years of service.  I took my sabbatical in the Winter 2011, and spent most of that time touring around New Zealand collecting data for a research project, doing talks at different universities, and visiting innovative schools (one of which will come up later in this blogging course).  One of my stops was at the Wellington campus of Massey University, where I spoke about the potential for using blogging in the university environment.

3. iNACOL Southeast Cmte (2014) – Changing Role of the Teacher in K-12 Online and Blended Learning

Back when iNACOL was actually still focused on K-12 online and blended learning I used to be quite active (e.g., chairing the research committee, establishing the VSS overlay, writing reports and books, etc.).  Even when it became the mouthpiece for the corporate interests in the field, I tried to stay involved to be a contrarian voice.  While I can’t recall for sure, I suspect this presentation occurred as I was transitioning out of direct involvement in the organization.  Regardless most of the geographic regions in the US had a committee that would meet regularly to discuss issues of importance for programs in their region.  In some cases this would just be a collaborative session, but in other cases they would invite guest to come and speak on a topic to help set the discussion.  In this instance I was speaking to the southeastern committee on the work of Niki Davis and others that were examining the diffusion of the teacher into multiple roles and multiple people in the K-12 online and blended learning environment.

4. WSU Humanities Fall Symposia 2013 – Privatizing Public Education Through Cyber Schooling: Examining Truth And Myth In The Dominant Narrative of K-12 Online Learning

While I was at Wayne State University the Center for Humanities would host a fall symposium each year.  During the 2013 one, which would have been the Fall after I had actually left WSU for Sacred Heart University, I returned to speak on the lack of research to support the neo-liberal rationale full-time K-12 online learning, and how that was leading to a privatization of public education.

5. Sabbatical (Massey University) – An Introduction to a New Research Paradigm: Design-Based Research

Another one of my sabbatical talks was at Massey University’s main campus in Palmerston North.  Having been mentored into academic by Dr. Tom Reeves, design-based research was a frequent topic I spoke on during my sabbatical travels.

Note for the EDTECH537 students…  See how I have provided a short annotation for each item.  In many cases, people just provide a link to an item with no rationale for why it is included or what the reader is expected to do when they get there.  A short description of the link or instructions on what to focus on or where to go is always useful when writing links entries.

EDTECH537 – Week 3

Today begins week three of my EDTECH537 – Blogging In The Classroom course. The students this week have a series of blog entries that they have to complete by the end of the week (i.e., midnight on Sunday).

  • to post a links entry to their blog (i.e., Links Entries are simply entries that provide a list of links. They can be thematic in nature or they can be a random set of links that are published every so often or at specific times. Some bloggers have even set-up their Delicious or Diigo accounts to summarize all of their links for the past week in an entry on their blog.)
  • to post a list entry to their blog (i.e., List Entries are simply entries that provide lists of things. A list of links could be described as a list of things, hence the overlap in these kinds of entries. Personally, I see List Entries as lists of non-web-based things. Some bloggers will provide lists of books or articles they would recommend or the top # of apps for some mobile device or their # favourite movies. The list can be about anything at all really.)
  • to post a discussion question entry to their blog (i.e., Discussion Question Entries are exactly as they sound, entries designed to generate discussion. Typically they are self-contained and have a short introduction to give the reader some context and then attempt to pose an open-ended question. Some bloggers will base their discussion question on something they have read or a current event. The main thing to remember about a discussion question entry is that it is designed to generate conversation among the readers of your blog.)

The readings for the students this week include:

Later this morning I will be post an example of a links entry, tomorrow I will post an example of a list entry, and on Wednesday I will post an example of a discussion question entry.

July 9, 2019

EDTECH537 – Disclosure

One of the activities for Week 2 in my EDTECH537 – Blogging In The Classroom is to create a disclosure, so today it is time for me to update my disclosure page.

As I mentioned in previous years when I completed this activity, when I first created my disclosure page it was based on the Full Disclosure page that Miguel Guhlin had created at Around the Corner-MGuhlin.org. Essentially, I took what Miguel had written and modified it for my own context (and left a reference to Miguel’s original at the bottom).

In terms of updating it today, I went through and reviewed all of the content in a more thorough way than in previous years.  This review resulted in minor editorial revisions.

Finally, I double checked all of the links to make sure they were still up-to-date.

Anyway, until next week’s task(s)…

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