Distributed Research by and for Teachers & Teacher Educators Sólveig Jakobsdóttir, associate professor KHÍ/Iceland University of Educaton 12.3.2004 NERA conference, Reykjavík
Focus • What is distributed...: learning/education, cognition, research..? • Why do “distributed research”? • The tools? • How – examples? • Considerations
What is “distributed learning/education”? • Describes a blend of campus-based or on-site learning and distance learning or net-based learning (The Educational gateway http://menntagatt.is, 2001). Not exactly a new phenomenon, e.g. if one look at how people study at different places over a longer period of time. But increasingly, with the help of the Net, people can study at many places during the same or shorter periods. • One can look at distributed learning from • a learner’s perspective (study at different places with different individuals, resources) or from • School/teacher’s perspective whose students are from all over
Distributed learning – Bates 1996 • “A distributed learning environment is a learner-centred approach to education, which integrates a number of technologies to enable opportunities for activities and interaction in both asynchronous and real-time modes. The model is based on blending a choice of appropriate technologies with aspects of campus-based delivery, open learning systems and distance education. The approach gives instructors the flexibility to customize learning environments to meet the needs of diverse student populations, while providing both high quality and cost-effective learning.” (Bates, 1996)
Distributed learning – Dede 2000 • “However, sophisticated computers and telecommunications do have unique capabilities for enhancing learning, especially through a new model of education called “distributed learning” in which classrooms, workplaces, homes, and community settings are linked for educational activities.” (Dede, 2000)
Distributed cognition – UF 2002 • “The Theory of Distributed Cognition is closely related to Social Constructivism in the argument it makes that cognition is not within the individual but rather it is distributed over other people and tools. The use of telecommunications technologies in education has to rely highly on distributed cognition. Major researchers in the field are Pea, Salomon, Perkins, Cole, G. Hutchins, and Norman.” (University of Florida, College of Education, Educational Technology, 2002)
Distributed research – Fitz-Gibbon • “The Theory of Distributed Cognition is closely related to Social Constructivism in the argument it makes that cognition is not within the individual but rather it is distributed over other people and tools. The use of telecommunications technologies in education has to rely highly on distributed cognition. Major researchers in the field are Pea, Salomon, Perkins, Cole, G. Hutchins, and Norman.” (University of Florida, College of Education, Educational Technology, 2002)
S S S S S ? E2 S S ? T1 S E1 T2 ?
“Distributed research”? • One could think about “distributed research” in the way that students or individuals who are distributed over different areas participate together in a one or more part of the research process, e.g., in data gathering in order to gather a lot of data in as short a time as possible. Collaborative or communication projects in schools and/or between (research) institues and others are often based on that idea.
Why doing “distributed”research? • If we look at typical research process we could e.g. divide it into: • Preparation work, e.g., with literature research • Writing, planning, applications • Data gathering • Data analysis • Writing and publication • The potential of collaboration between very many may be most effective at stage 1 and 3.
Why doing “distributed”research with students? • Locate and read (about) more literature - researcher & student(s)? • Much more data within shorter periods with very little cost. • Students experience parts of researchers’ roles, learn by an apprenticeship model, can get them to think, look closer more critically at different types of phenomenon. • Can bring valuable experience and insights to the research process. • When students are also practicing teachers they can provide important links with educational workplaces and MUCH higher response rates (often a problem in online surveys, see e.g. Witmer, Colman, and Katzman, 1999) • More likely that the results will have value – be utilized?
The tools...? • Data gathering: online surveys (e.g., with Frontpage) • Data gathering+publishing : Connection with databases (e.g., Frontpage+Access) --------------------------- • “Regular” webs – general information to groups • “Privat” information – e-mail or closed webs
How? Example 1 - School computer culture, gender differences • Studies Nov. 1998 and 2002 (two week period): • Instrument: http://soljak.khi.is/tolvumenning • Data mostly quantitative but also qualitative (open-ended questions). Saved in a text document on the server, copied into Excel and SPSS for analysis.
How? Example 2 – Internet useof Icleandic children/adolescents • Qualitative study 2001-3. • See, e.g., paper presented at BERA 2003. Available on project web: http://soljak.khi.is • 66 students gathered data, did preliminary data analysis, and discussed results. • Six students worked further on the project: did literature research, web design, further data analysis, and made conference presentation.
Both examples • In both examples results and writings about the studies have been presented to new cohorts of students in a graduate program on ICT in education as major pieces of research relevant to their studies.
How? Example – Concepts, reading materials on ICT • Also one can create and gather materials in a similar way, e.g. About important readings and concepts. Examples include: • http://soljak.khi.is/efnisbanki • http://soljak.khi.is/leshringur • http://soljak.khi.is/tolvuppbankar/hugtakasafn.asp
For consideration • Personal protection – research ethics? • Pedagogy, teaching methods: online communities - students participate in gathering new information – inquiry-based? • Organization? • Technical issues/problems? • The quality of data? • Information overflow?
Finally.. • When carefully contructed and planned there should be several benefits for both teacher educators and their students/teachers. The latter can, e.g., gain an important experience and contribute by helping to answer questions, solve problems, raise some new questions, and feel apart of a community learning and finding out things together. They can also get ideas for new R&D projects or working with their own students. • “All the little things add up” and “Many hands make light work“..