Steph's Blog

Educational Insight

Kearsley and Research November 8, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — stephb01 @ 5:08 am

At the conclusion of Chapter 4, Kearsley states:

“Keep in mind that wide-scale adoption of online education is just beginning and almost all fo th research needed in this area has yet to be defined or conducted” (Kearsely  2000)

So, I think it is safe to say that while Kearsley presents some of the research that has been conducted, he realizes that there is not enough out there to base solid conclusions on.

Also, Kearsley mentions at the beginning of chapter 4 that the “starting point for most studies of educational technology is an analysis of student achievement relative to traditional classes” (Kearsley 2000).  This makes sense to me because online education is the only alternative we’ve seen to a traditional setting. I think this is also an important area for research to be conducted in because so many in the field of education are skeptical of using online education.

Kearsley presented the conclusion of the study that was completed on this topic. The researchers had found that student achievement and participation increased in the online course. However, the implication were that it takes well-motivated students and instructors to make the class successful. Thankfully, Kearsley concludes with letting readers know that learning online may work well for some, but not others. I think this is an important point to make that is not said enough. So many times I’ve sat in meetings and heard of all these researched based programs or strategies, but no one will ever say: this may not work for you. Of course that could be because they are trying to sell a program or promote their own ideas. Then what happens is the district or school buys into the program or idea and when it doesn’t magically “fix” anything, teachers are the reason.



Research Article

Filed under: Uncategorized — stephb01 @ 4:33 am

I found an interesting post on the Cool Cat Teacher Blog called “Twitter is Tool not a Panacea: Who would research Twitter?”  by Vicki Davis. The title was what really caught my attention because I wanted to know as well who would do research on Twitter. The blog was a response to the article that actually discussed research on Twitter. Davis quoted the article as saying:

“There is not research but as more and more teachers start using Twitter in a variety of classroom projects, it seems the practice will be the only empirical foundation to let children get away with their multitasking and huge capacity to use social media tools like Twitter.”

I had no idea teachers were really using Twitter as a means to communicate with students. I had it pegged as a social networking site and that was it. Davis had a similar opinion in that she didn’t see students really using it, but teachers were in order to connect and share ideas.

Davis then posted her response to the article. I think she made a great point in stating:

“Just one thought here.  To me, yes, there is something to be said ABOUT The tools but to point to the tool itself as needing research, to me is quite missing the point. It is HOW the tool is used.  For example, a hammer is quite useful and essential for building a house but if I use it to hammer in all of the screws the house will fall down. “

This seems to be the case for so many tools that we use. Instead of focusing on the underlying purpose of the tool, researchers focus on the particular tool. In the case of Twitter, Davis discussed that the research should be on microblogging in the classroom not just Twitter.

Another point that Davis brought up was this about exit questions:

“Using ticket to leave in the classroom is one of the best researched tools out there (asking students to answer a critical question before leaving class.)  If this practice is done on paper or tweeted should be irrelevant – it is the practice that counts.”

This comment made me think about is it really irrelevant how something is completed as long as it is completed?





Global Nature of the Web/Objectives and Goals November 1, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — stephb01 @ 4:48 pm
  1. Does the global nature of the web have an effect on evaluation?

In my opinion, the global nature of the web does have an effect on evaluation because it can provide more resources for actually evaluating the overall success or failure of the course through both scientific and peer review. Also, it can have the opposite of effect of causing people to evaluate too quickly and send the wrong impression.

  1. Are the goals and objectives changed when you take a course online compared to classroom based instruction?

I think the goals and objectives stay the same in an online course, but the method in which you achieve them changes from what you would use in a regular classroom.


OLDaily: Review of “Evaluation in Distance Education and e-Learning”

Filed under: Uncategorized — stephb01 @ 4:36 pm

In the post, “Review of Evaluation in Distance Education and Learning” ,Stephen Downes wrote a  brief review of a review Tom Bates had given on a book written specifically for evaluating distance education and e-learning courses.  Downes quoted Bates as saying:

“In brief, the book adopts a cookie-cutter approach to evaluation. The shape is nice, but you don’t actually get to taste the cake.”

I found that to be an interesting statement and followed the link to Bates’s review of the book. In his review Bates referred to another person who had also reviewed the same book. From Bate’s standpoint the book would be great to use as a beginner’s guide, but it did not discuss several important areas of evaluating distance education and e-learning. One of his first criticisms deals with the book making evaluation sound completely academic when it comes to these types of courses. Then he goes on to say:

“Learning technology and/or distance education units tend to be treated as peripheral and if necessary disposable units, and therefore have little institutional power, and are therefore particularly vulnerable to power plays and internal machinations.”

I can see why that would occur and think it is sad this is how distance courses are treated. This means that it is possible for really great classes to simply be shut down just because they’re online. The book also did not focus on the underlying values that truly effect distance education: “access, flexibility, innovation in teaching, skills for a knowledge-based society, supporting lifelong learners, etc.,” This makes sense because when you take a course online the element of delivery is changing from traditional form, so there has to be more to evaluation than just the academics.



Ganley Article: Grading Partnerships in the Classroom: Conversation #3

Filed under: Uncategorized — stephb01 @ 5:39 am

I searched through a few articles by both Ganley and Fisher and found Ganley’s article “Grading Partnerships in the Classroom: Conversation #3” to be my favorite.  The thing that stood out the most to me was what Ganley quoted from a speaker she had heard:

“..academic institutions have basically abdicated the responsibility to teach integrity, to teach values, to talk about the pressing questions of being human right now right here as we mentor our students along their way to responsible citizenship. We are distracted by our own research. By the lack of time. We complain that here isno time for anything, not as things stand now with our major requirements for graduation, our singular focus on only whatare doing in our own classrooms. We’re afraid to change.We’re afraid of change.”

I’m pretty sure this statement could not have came at a better time for me. I always feel like I have no time for anything and that we move on before anyone has a chance to even learn more than surface. However, I really don’t do much to change anything and for me when things change I”m afraid because it has yet to be a change for the better.

Ganley’s purpose for this blog was to talk about how she and her students collaborated to figure out what exactly should be evaluated in the class. The students decided upon risk, effort, improvement, and quality. They worked together to determine what each category meant and how much it would count towards the overall grade. One of her students even posted about how students don’t really get enough time to reflect on what they have learned. This point really hit home with me because I realize that I do not give my kids time to stop and think about what they’ve just learned. We just go through a cycle of I do, we do, and now you do. There is no “you reflect”.

At the end of the blog Ganley talked about how students felt more motivated to complete their work and particpate in class. She mentions as well:

This isn’t about me at all–and that’s been the hardest piece of the puzzle to fall into place for them. For the most part, they know only classrooms dominated by the teacher.

Ganley makes a great point here because again we fear change and so do our students. If they are put into a situation where they are given some control of the class, then it makes them feel out of sorts because the teacher is suppose to be the leader. I think it would be a neat idea to have students involved in the process, however I can understand their nervousness with creating how their class will be graded.


Are they learning? October 25, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — stephb01 @ 7:56 am

I know my students are learning when:

1. After we’ve finished a lesson, I can walk around the room and see them applying what they’ve just learned.

2. As I walk around the majority do not need me to completely reteach the concept.

3. When we are going through a lesson, they are intrigued, but do not have the deer in headlights look.

4. They’re not sitting there turning their paper into various constructions or tapping their pencils as if they are in a drum line. In other words, I haven’t lost their attention in learning.

5. I can ask “What are you learning?” or “Why are you learning this?” and get an actual answer other than “because you told us to.”

All of that plus using the usual assessments gives me a good idea of what’s going on or not going on.


Thinking Like a Learner

Filed under: Uncategorized — stephb01 @ 7:48 am

It’s really hard to assess thinking. However, I would probably have the student create something in order to show what they have learned. The actual creation could be an application of the content to the real-world even.  Sometimes by just having a discussion with a student like this you can figure out whether or not they understand.