Stop Looking for a Silver Bullet!

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Why, oh why, Dear Reader, do we think we have to find the technological silver bullet for education?

There is no one-size-fits all! Think of it this way: education is a vehicle, a car, let’s say. We never, ever, ever say that the windshield wipers are the car. We do not confuse the tires with the engine. It is the sum of the parts that make the whole, that make the car run, that make it faster, slower, etc.

Some of us blame or praise technology for education’s failures/successes. Or we think that the solution to a problem must be X software.  Educating and teaching is so much more than a technological tool.

Technology is a tool for teaching and learning, not the entire car.

My rant of the day. What do you think?

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Frustrated Researcher Part Trois

Knowing how and why administrators make decisions is probably impossible to fully understand on some levels. Internal politics, budgets, external political climates, institutional rankings, workloads, etc. all play a complex role in how decisions are made in an educational environment. My interest is primarily how an institution makes educational technology decisions and how these decisions directly affect online educational pursuits.columns

The final key research interest I have is how instructors are supported and trained to apply technology in their classrooms and/or to teach online classes. It is very interesting to see how instructors can use the same technology in very different ways, some for the better, some not. I do think it could be helpful if instructors utilized an instructional coach to learn the best practices of a new tool they want to use. Additionally, I am interested in how an instructor’s own personal curriculum theory plays into how students perceive their satisfaction and learning in online courses.

Of these interests, I will probably focus on how institutions make decisions or how online instructors are supported. During the next few months, my goal is to refine my research idea and more clearly identify the “problem” in my area of interest. I have not begun to think about how I will collect this data…yet.

Frustrated Researcher Part Deux

The three areas that I am interested in studying

  1. Understanding the effectiveness of online/distance learning in the higher education environment with a particular focus on cognition and technology
  2. Understanding how administrative decisions (or lack of) are guiding online education
  3. Understanding how instructor training of online education and instructor identification of his/her personal curriculum theory influences student satisfaction and learning

are varied, which leads me to believe that I will need to distill and define what I ultimately want to research for my EPP. With that said, I will discuss why I have a keen interest in cognition and technology, online administrative decision-making, and instructor training. Before I begin, however, I must first state that although my focus is about the online educational environment, I have found that criticisms and claims can be supported for both online and face-to-face teaching methods. For instance, I typically hear people criticize and compare the worst concepts of online courses to the very best of the face-to-face courses. Rarely, do people openly discuss the failings of the face-to-face methods when bashing the online teaching environment. We tend to create distinct separate silos for online and face-to-face, which I believe is an error in the overall goal to promote innovative education opportunities.

Cognition and technology in education needs to be desperately studied and I am very interested in knowing what works and what does not. When the brain is presented with several levels of sensory input, what does it select to use and retain and why? When we know that there are limits to the brain’s working memory, how can we create environments that support this limitation? How can the understanding of this information help

brain

educators make wise decisions when creating online courses, or selecting software tools to license. We cannot fully trust the marketers of these products to rea

lly know what the student needs. We must have a basic understanding of how our brains function for optimum learning in order to make informed decisions for our students.

Yes….there is a part 3 coming…

Frustrated Researcher P1

kitty thinking about food

I find myself to be a frustrated researcher. I have many ideas and concepts that I would like to investigate, but I do not feel that I have the resources to pursue them. I have a very strong interest in understanding the effectiveness of online/distance learning in the higher education environment with a particular focus on cognition and technology; I want to know how administrative decisions (or lack of) are guiding online education; and I am keenly interested in how instructor training of online education and instructor identification of his/her personal curriculum theory influences student satisfaction and learning.

I am interested in these topics due to the career path I chose several years ago, which put me in the forefront of online education at a higher education institution. I designed policies and procedures to facilitate the distance learning program from 1997 when everything was paper and video-based until 2012 when almost all aspects of course were entirely online. During this time in 2003 I became more interested in the instructional design aspects of teaching online and started helping faculty members create rigorous standards-based courses.

Unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity to actually conduct research in these areas. I have however, been witness to anecdotal information during my 15 years with the program and have read journal articles and tried to incorporate solid research-based ideas into my support of faculty and the program.

Join me In Part 2 when I will talk more about my identifying a topic and next steps.