Research to Practice Design Process

TL; DR VERSION

[This Too Long; Didn’t Read version will give you an overview of the entire post. I invite you to read the Long version below if you find the time.]

This summer, I am completing my final courses for the Masters in Educational Technology (MAET) program at Michigan State.  As a piece of my course in approaches to educational research, I have been engaging in deep research that will help me design a learning experience for my students.  My learning experience will use technology to teach content in a way that is justified by theories and rationales found as a result of my research.

Big ideas from my research to practice design process include:

  • An outline of a project based learning experience that I am planning for my 3rd grade students in technology class
  • Questions that I am looking to find answers to as I research how to teach research and information fluency to elementary aged students
  • How my design for the specific learning experience has evolved through a process of revision and lesson study in my professional learning community
  • The challenge of picking just a slice of my learning experience to share in a 30 minute session at the GREAT15 Conference
  • How I have focused on the TPACK Framework to heighten my skills as a technology integrator in the making

LONG VERSION

This summer, I am completing my final courses for the Masters in Educational Technology (MAET) program at Michigan State.  As a piece of my course in approaches to educational research, I have been engaging in deep research that will help me design a learning experience for my students.  My learning experience will use technology to teach content in a way that is justified by theories and rationales found as a result of my research.

The designed learning experience I am creating is called Dream Vacation.  This project based learning unit will be taught to third grade Hawaiian students in technology class.  In order to align my lesson with curriculum expectations, I decided to focus on the third ISTE Standard for Students; Research and Information Fluency.  This is the primary driver of my designed learning experience.

My research focuses on the how.  These are the big questions that I am looking to find an answer to through my research.

What does research say about online inquiry and project based learning?

What are effective ways to teach research skills to elementary aged students?

What are best practices for guiding inquiry?

Getting to this point of clarity in this study has not been easy, by any means.  What I have just outlined for you is a result of hours spent drafting initial ideas, sharing those ideas, and getting feedback.  In less than a weeks time, my design for this learning experience has evolved immensely due to the process of revision and lesson study in my professional learning community.  To start, I knew I had way too many ideas that I could not possibly squeeze all of these ideas into one single learning experience.  To clear my head, I documented every thought I had on a Google Doc. I shared my ideas with a small group to get verbal and written feedback from my colleagues.  This feedback helped with revision in my design.  After this round of evaluating my design, I was able to clearly define that I wanted to create this experience for my third grade students.  There was no clear definition of what I wanted my content to be and I was still struggling with the content aspect of the TPACK framework.  This stage in the design process left me wondering.  Should my content be technology? Should I integrate core content with technology content? Should I teach core content by means of technology?

Fast forward to my next round of feedback, criticism from my professors.  I was able to meet with Michelle Hagerman in a one on one meeting to discuss my ideas.  It was clear that I still had a lot going on.  Narrowing needed to happen.  I came to the conclusion that since I teach a technology class, my content should be technology and that it would be appropriate to tie in other core subjects as needed.  Now I knew my students would learn research and information fluency skills.  As a result, I began to think about pedagogical methods that I wanted to explore to teach my content.  I now wanted to explore the realms of online inquiry, project based learning, internet reciprocal teaching, and instantly wanted to research effective ways to teach elementary aged students research skills.  I found that new literacies, social constructivism, and think aloud routines supported this research goal of mine.

My next opportunity for feedback was meeting with my colleague, Kristen Fenzau.  I shared the purpose of my lesson was to teach research skills and that I wanted to use Dash and Dot robots for the end product.  She justified that the robots would be the engaging fun part, like the light at the end of the tunnel.  I noted that I was struggling with the assessment piece of my design.  She was able to help me refine my assessment.  I will not just evaluate the end product piece.  I will also assess the students’ documentation process of how they gathered their research and made sense of it before reporting their new knowledge in a final product.  She and I also discussed ideas of ways that I could deliver the project to my students without giving them an example that they would copy.

Another challenging part of the design process was deciding what slice of my learning experience I could share in a thirty minute session at our GREAT15 conference.  After discussion with Kristen, I really began to think about what exactly I expect students to research and know about their dream vacation and how I am going to let my students research what they want to know without me giving them the answers.  This is where a lot of my pedagogical research will come into play, but I can also get feedback and data from my session attendees.  I decided that I would use my session to do a mini trial run on the research part with attendees. This would provide me with data, feedback, and suggestions on the inquiry piece of my learning experience.

My colleague, Morgan Saunders, also had time to give me feedback.  The big topic of our conversation was how I plan to teach the research skills and guide my students’ inquiry.  Morgan suggested that I teach my students perseverance and growth mindset so that they don’t give up.  She also recommended that I prime my students for the research that is to come by integrating short research activities on a daily basis so they are at least comfortable with the navigation and location part of research.  This way I can spend more time on the deepness of research when we get to the Dream Vacation learning experience I designed.

Most recently, we coded another colleague’s designed learning experience by using the seven components of the TPACK framework.  I am looking forward to viewing my coded learning experience to see where my gaps in thinking are.  Have I been focusing too much on a certain piece to the puzzle?

These processes of revision and lesson study in my professional learning community has influenced my thinking about being a technology integrator in the making because I’ve been doing a lot of thinking surrounding the pedagogical pieces.  On a deeper level, I’ve focused on the technological content knowledge, technological pedagogical knowledge, and pedagogical content knowledge.  Understanding these three relationships is new for me. I feel like I omitted these intersections before.  I viewed TPACK on a broader level, only seeing these four sections of the framework; technological knowledge, content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and technological pedagogical content knowledge. Now, I am sensitive to all seven components, including every intersection of technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge.  This leads me to believe that I am getting closer to designing learning experiences that truly hit the “sweet spot” of TPACK, which is what we technology integrators all strive for.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s