June 28, 2006

My fitnes goals

I hope to loose 10 pounds and bench 400 bls by the end of the wekk

May 4, 2006

The End is Nigh

Wow, I can't believe the class is over. Well... at least the meeting part. It was a really enjoyable group of people to meet and work with; I've learned so much from them and really enjoyed the discussions. Although an outsider, I quickly felt right at home with my LT cousins.

Personally, it was very helpful to see their thinking styles, trends, research agendas, etc. We in the sci ed track are pretty similar, but I felt exposed to new ways of seeing the educational world that I don't think I'd have had if I only took regular C&I tracks.

I always feel a bit morose about the ending of classes. i know I'll see these folks, at least in writing, for many years to come and will hopefully work in some sense with them to improve practice. yet, the bonds formed in class through group interactions seem to fade a bit as time passes. It is very hard to recreate outside of the course. In essence, the community begins to dissociate. Would a wiki or some other tech help keep the community rolling as some have suggested in our discussions?


April 30, 2006

Good Design or Just Plain Good Teachin'?

So back to where we started... is it purposeful, thoughtful design that leads to successful implementation or just plain good teaching that wins the day? I really think that the two are quite related and hard to separate. With design based research, it seems that the iterative process, focused on solving real world problems with applied theory is what many master teachers do in their practice. I want to know how I can improve x. I've observed x and this is what worked and didn't. how can I improve x? Did my I really improve x? What can this tell me about x, y, and z?

With ASL, it seems that there are many elements of good teaching that lead to successful implementation as pointed out in a couple of the articles. Many of the same rules of leading discussion apply. Don't shoot to high or too low with your questions. Think about how you setup the groups. Think about why you ask the questions and what you response. Sure the context is different as it is no longer real time or F2F, but many of the same principles pertain.

One last thing... I'm still holdin on to the notion that the ASL article from the computer scientist is not all that bad. Sure it's an overblown, well duh type of study, BUT how many of those have we come across in educational research with tired and true qualitative and quantitative methodologies. How's this one different? It answers the well duh question using methodology designed for analysis of computer networks. Why not steal new/old methodologies other than those designed for psychology, anthropology, sociology, and agriculture (stats)?

April 24, 2006

Peer Editing Props

Once again, my perceived ability to conduct research has exceeded my actual ability at this point. Writing a coherent literature review that leads to some decent research questions is a difficult, challenging, and exciting task. While I am stumbling a bit through this process, I recognize that I am new to this venue of writing. I'm thankful for my peer editing group for their thoughtful and through feedback. I've never worked in a peer editing group before and am excited by the process of navigating through there comments and looking for changes I'd like to make.

I think that a program like Word works well for track changes but not real well for peer editing groups. I hope they are working on a way to have people edit the same document at the same time and reveal changes that have been made by each person. I suppose it'd be the same as passing the document around and having people edit it, but there has got to be an easier way. Maybe the Writely software is worth a look.

April 2, 2006

The Swampy Lowlands

I applaud Gene and others whose noble efforts seek to tap the wisdom of everyday practice from those who know the solutions to their problems the best. There is a real destine and distrust from those whose job it is to put theory into practice when theory is handed down as doctrine to be used. There is also the reverse, where common, tacit knowledge is not really viewed as knowledge in the pure, scientific sense - those in positions of power may not see them as viable solutions for the rest of the practitioners. If the intent is to capture and disseminate the knowledge for the purposes of growing new knowledge, wonderful. If it is to distill down peoples processes and knowledge for the sake of their replacement then I have great reservations. I like to look at the tacit knowledge of teachers whose experience and wisdom is wrought with years of slogging it out in the trenches. So much of their knowledge leaves when they leave. I don't believe we have done enough to capture the knowledge to share with future generations of teachers and this is where I believe where technologies like Web 2.0 can be employed to capture and refine these nuggets. swamp.jpg

March 23, 2006

Bridging the Divide

I am interested in learning more on the digital divide. It was fascinating to learn about the inequities that exist with technology between low SES and high SES schools. While I question those who contest that this is intentional class warfare, I agree that something must be done. Much more can be learned about this gap and how to close it.

Throwing technology at the problem is not the answer. Not surprising... Take a look at any of Cuban's historical work on ed tech and rushes to implement the tech have often left the technology underutilized due to poor training and application strategies. What is scary is how reform based movements in education can cause the gap to widen. The use of technology as a drill and kill avenue to increase test scores can increase the disparity by not using a ICT as a tool for information gathering and processing - leading to knowledge construction.

Regardless, something needs to be done. I now know a problem exists and we know of potential solutions. I'm motivated... and it really didn't take critical theory to get me there - just a little data.


March 5, 2006

Websurveys and other LT Tools

I'm about efficiency. I like to improve processes to make them more streamlined. Web surveys seem to be a tool that could help the researcher get quickly to what is most important - the data analysis. I knew it was difficult to write a good survey, but was even more surprised to find out how many potential design issues were involved their development. I'm realizing more and more that design of study is more critical that any other aspect of your research - time and energy spent in this phase will pay dividends. By having someone who has already designed a quality layout and response pattern for online surveys, the researcher free themselves up for a more important task; the questions themselves. As we have discussed in statistics, internal validity is key in having a quality study. Therefore it follows, that questions that are unbiased and truly get at the heart of what you want to study are key. I am pretty confident I could use these tools to setup some slick, efficient survey and get me some real data, real quick. The tool I can use efficiently at this stage, just not sure I'll use it correctly or properly.


February 26, 2006

Design Based Experiments

I think that this approach to research has a ton of merit and I would consider it as a method/methodology/paradigm as work for a dissertation. To me, innovation is important in this field and practical application doubly so. As a "backyard engineer" through my work inventing, building, coaching, and teaching, this approach has great appeal to me. It's grounded in theory, iterative, and lends itself nicely to theory generation. I think it could be a nice way to carry out and develop one's research agenda.

I'm concerned about how publishable and (gasp) popular it may be within the research community. I pains me think it or even say it but there is a game I may have to play to get out and even leave here. I think the trick is not to loose your grounding in practical experience and do work and things that you will be proud to look back on as time progresses.

February 17, 2006

Context Matters and Where's the Paradigm

Last nights fruitful discussions brought up two key issues for me that are sticking points for this thing we call educational research.

1. Knowledge of the Context Matters

During the Autism debate we all struggled (to varying degrees) to apply our limited knowledge of the disability to learning technologies. The LT folk seem to be in a very unique position that could place them as Jack's of all trades as they are called upon to design and implement innovations to help with learning. However, only those with specialized and detailed knowledge are really in the best place to evaluate these innovations and hopefully create new ones. Perhaps this idea of innovation without understanding context is why I really haven't been floored by many educational technologies.

2. Do we have a Paradigm or Codified Knowledge Base in Education?

No. One could claim Journals as the base of knowledge but unlike Law, Medicine, Science, Automotive repair, etc practitioners, policy makers, and researchers really have no where to go. True - there are tons of grey areas in the aforementioned fields but they can answer the most important of questions "How do we know what we know?" whereas I do not believe we can. This hurts our cause and chances of practicality badly. This could help explain why we are seen as a wafflely bunch.

February 9, 2006

Technology in Schools and the Zebra Mussel in The Great Lakes – an Evasive Metaphor

Technology in Schools and the Zebra Mussel in The Great Lakes – an evasive Metaphor

As a scientist, I had to roll my eyes several times when reading the theoretical framework of this piece. “Oh great,? I thought, “here comes another wishy washy qualitative lens to describe something that we already know?. I was surprised to find out that the this metaphor, at times, nicely explained the complex phenomena of technology integration (or lack thereof) in schools. I was even more shocked to find out how quantitative the study was. I’ve learned that ed researchers are big on their metaphors to explain complex phenomena; this is similar to modeling done by scientist and engineers who try to explain and predict using simplified graphical constructs. The social aspect of schools resonated the most with me – as one of the informal go to people in the district, I’d often be called upon by colleagues to help troubleshoot and recommend new technologies. The relationships and play time are key to lasting and meaningful implementation. Much of the other pieces in the study, like the ineffectiveness of professional development and other top down models, were not surprising, but the metaphor helped tie some of these things together. There may have been some big issues w/ the IV of the study but they did a nice job of explaining their data sources in the appendix and cautioning against generalization. However, it was only elementary schools that they studied. At any rate, I am still a bit skeptical of this metaphor and worry about its perceived practical use by practitioners.

Hmm… why would Michigan State would choose such a metaphor?

February 2, 2006

The Craft of Research and a really tough article to read by Voithofer

Chapt 4 - Again, the idea of fleshing out your questions with the three step formula seems to be of great importance to me. I’ve got a ton of questions and they are certainly not all researchable. This formula on page 66, can serve as a useful guide to narrowing down my focus.

I still have this great tension between applied and pure research. I want so badly for my work to be applicable for the practitioners, but really I don’t think that this is what they (the research community) looks for. A problem, to them, is more about adding to understanding of an ongoing issue. True science, is really about research for the sake of understanding without thoughts of future application. Can one do both? The idea of looking for new questions at the end of research documents is a nice way to pickup on existing works that you may be able to add to the discussion.

Chapt 6 – Again, maybe my old ways of doing research are not as modern or sophisticated as they could be. This chapter is a nice look at how to read research and begin to use it as sources. Looking at common mistakes in misquoting or misreading sources is treated well. It really resonated with me the idea of how your biases could slip very easily into your reading; especially as you write your literature review. Also citing evidence, not just only claims into your argument, is critical in the literature review as well. Organization, not a strong point of mine, is also key in helping to correctly use, and not inadvertently abuse, sources.

Pg. 106 – speedy reading of sources. Just a quality section of tips on how to get more out of your readings…

Designing New Media…. I probably didn’t due this much justice, but this is probably the most bombastic, obfuscated, and confusing article I have read. I need to read this one again, with a dictionary. However, if I ever begin to write like this...

January 26, 2006

The Craft of Research Chpt 1-3,7,11

Chpt 1When creating a relationship w/ your reader, the authors suggest 3 ways: found something cool, found something to help you, found something to answer a question. Of the three the third seems to me to be the most important for it is aimed at the practitioner. To me educational research should be targeted more with the practitioner in mind and not just adding to the discussion or base. However, I’d assume that the last of the list would be the most common. Maybe answering the "so what" question will help bring more practical application potential to the pure research that takes place in academia. It can be more than "tell me something that will help me understand our common topic of interest better"

Chapt 2/3 - Really like the idea of a round robin draft sharing when working on a group research project. MS Words track changes function could really help here. I also like the idea of preparing your "elevator story". As mentioned earlier, my writing and to some degree my oral communication has changed in order to communicate more effectively in academia. It is not usually how teachers in secondary schools talk to their students. Consequently, my ability to communicate effectively with a larger audience may have been inadvertently hampered by this short experience. This technique, along with op-ed type assignments, re grounds us and helps us function in the larger world. Pg. 32 also has a nice checklist for getting to know your readers. If we were to go thru the list, what would be the most common responses to our audiences for journals and conferences?

Hints - write as you go - even as you begin your project - research writing, like the process of science is much less linear than expected

Finding topics and writing questions I'd like to investigate really isn't a problem for me. I have lists of over 40 categorized areas of interest. What is harder for me is to choose which topics are of greatest interest to me, can be researchable, and have access to good amounts of data. This third chapter lays out a great framework that can help me whittle my list down and find topics and questions that are more important. The topic, question, rationale sequence makes a great deal of sense to me. However, at my novice stage, I still feel I need to seek input from others especially help in answering the so what question. I'd like my research to be interesting to me and to be impactfull in some small way (someday).

Chpt 7/11 - I am a bit confused at this point and could use a few more concrete examples for me to dissect as I try and understand the sequencing and construction of quality arguments. The steps of

1. What do you claim?
2. What reasons support your claim?
3. What evidence supports your claim?
4. Do you acknowledge alternatives and respond to them?

make good sense to me. However, the warrant piece confuses me greatly. This how I conceptualize warrant.

How to Publish in Scholarly Journals

Publishing is much harder than I probably had anticipated it to be. Research, although exciting to be part of a community that adds to the discussion and hopefully the knowledge base, seems to be much more political and filled with unwritten rules than I had previously thought. On top of that, the research must be very solid which would lead back to having a quality question and design.

-Are there ways to develop a study that really can contribute without replicating prior studies that answer similar questions? I would suppose that this is where a quality lit review would come into play.
- Would even be possible for me to publish when I am here? The process seems so lengthy.

January 25, 2006

Style - Chapter 1

I think my writing is good, or was good, before I started grad school. I believed my style was concise, clear, flowed nicely, and a bit of flair although my prior job did not allow me to exercise it much. I'm not so sure about my abilities anymore. I have began to suffer from what Williams cleverly calls academese( the analogue of legalese). When I first started reading journals and other scholarly writings this past year, I was pretty sure they were talking about teaching and learning but some days I was not. It seems clearer to me now, but I fear that my expanded vocabulary (that I am positive I have not always used correctly) has poisoned my style and obfuscated my writing. I love to write, but am concerned my writing will not be clear to those who it needs to be written for: the practitioner.