Tag Archives: Google

Education Evolutions Newsletter #8

Education Evolutions:

Select Readings on Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age

Here are three curated articles about education, technology, and evolutions in teaching.

  • Facebook and Google: most powerful and secretive empires we’ve ever knownThe Guardian – Ellen P. Goodman and Julia Powles (7 minute read)
    One of the potential dangers of buying into a technocratic dream, or worse what Neil Postman called a technopoly, is just how much private technology enterprises overtake spaces or processes previously thought of as public. The lack of transparency from private institutions should be viewed with skepticism. Moreover, we repeatedly see the prescience of someone like Marshall McLuhan. It is good to see a different cultural perspective, albeit a slight one, that resides a bit further outside the immediate influence Silicon Valley. Plus, considering how much each of these companies wants to be involved in education seems important to continue considering how they operate.
  • Why Teaching to the Test is Educational MalpracticeGadfly on the Wall – Steven Singer (15 minute read)
    There is a notion in education that teaching to the test is alright, so long as it is a good test. This blogpost presents an articulate and well-researched argument against that notion and teaching to a test as a general principle. The nature that teacher Steven Singer’s argument is one I think about a lot regarding Advanced Placement. Also, I like Singer’s recognition that his evidence is neither conclusive nor does he think it should never be used as a strategy. Still, there are a number of points definitely worthy of deep consideration.
  • Tracing Personalized Learning Research Back to the 1970sEdWeek Digital Education blog – Benjamin Herold (10 minute read)
    Reporter Benjamin Herold traces the idea of personalized learning back to the mastery learning trend that dates back to the 1970s. Considering just how hot a topic personalized learning is in education and edtech, this seems like information definitely worth understanding. One issue that Herold never really addresses is how often personalized learning is conflated with adaptive learning, using a device as the mediator that typically uses some kind of artificial intelligence to adjust based on student response. Adaptive learning is a definite branch off the mastery learning and behaviorism tree. I am deeply skeptical about these trends and hope that education reaches far beyond these paradigms.
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Getting Serious as a #SEACCR – Week 3 Reflections

Photo: Reflections

Reflections – cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo by Dead Habits

Use these guiding questions as you consider how you contributed to the learning of others:

Sharing Resources & Ideas

I have not been the best sharer of curated sources for this course, thus far. However, I suspect that may change in the coming weeks. There are a few projects that I might be able to offer assistance by sharing some known resources. So I suspect that I may be adding tot he Diigo group. Apart from the articles included in my annotated bibliography, I don’t believe I shared a lot of other resources. I have had my hands full trying to pursue my own line of inquiry.

Image: #SEACCR Tweeted Times newspaper

#SEACCR Tweeted Times newspaper – aggregating course activity

Still, I have been trying to continue to model different ways of archiving a lot of the Twitter chatter associated with class.  I do think that more frequent Twitter updates of the SEACCR Tweeted Times newspaper that I created a couple of weeks ago, from the list I created, might be useful. It is a much cleaner way to read the latest activity from the course. Plus, assigns a ranking of top tweets, based in part on retweeting. I have now automated a tweet promoting the page of collected #SEACCR tweets to be published daily at 4:00 PM Alaskan Time. This should anticipate our weekly Twitter chats, which is an active period for fellow classmates. I may need to adjust the time. That is another item on which I need to solicit some feedback.

I am not sure how much use others will find the Tweeted Times paper, but it is more an experiment. I will try to solicit some more feedback in the next Twitter chat. I think not publishing regular updates very likely left it a forgotten resource by many. Plus, it may have been just a bit too much for anyone new to Twitter. However, by now most of the participants have been tweeting with much greater regularity.

Impact

It is pretty difficult to discern the impact I have made by participating in this course and community. I like to think that I am having some, but I am definitely removed from the Alaskan cohort, no matter how much I might try to stay connected.

In some ways, I have had to begin burrowing in my own head a bit more, as I suspect many other participants, trying to fashion a path that I will begin to take for my own inquiry. Narrowing and focusing a question, while investigating what is already out there in the research community is time consuming. Focusing on my own concerns necessarily cuts into the time for sharing, exchanging, and engaging with the community. Similarly, contributions from others become less visible and harder to track. Again, as everyone begins to emerge with a clearer vision of what they are pursuing and where they are headed, I imagine opportunities will arise where a greater impact can be made.

One area that I continue to try and make an impact is through commenting and encouraging colleagues by reading and responding to their blog posts. I have also been tweeting when I comment, in hopes of encouraging others to read and comment on those posts as well. I am not sure that it is working, but it also serves as a record of my own activity for myself, which has been useful. That is a tip I would encourage others to consider doing too.

It is really interesting and informative to read others’ blogposts. Of course there is the benefit of reading about their evolving project, which should reassure anyone that they are not alone. Yet, I find there is a lot to be gleaned from how individuals go about posting, including content, structure, and style. My observations make me think more about how I blog, something I have been giving a lot of thought for the last few months, as I have been making a concerted effort to post daily during the work week and at least once over the weekend.

Tracking Twitter Activity

Keeping with the tradition of using Storify to highlight contributions to the weekly Twitter chat, Here are a few tweets and exchanges that characterize some of my contributions and conversations from the week. Storify is proving to be a really useful tool, far more than I previously thought. It is perfect for collecting and curating Twitter activity in a narrative way, which is useful for an open course like this that leverages Twitter use by participants.

by  – Mon, Sep 30 2013 16:46:55

Tweets of a #SEACCR – Week 3

  1. Finally getting to read some fellow #SEACCR people’s reflections. @fadwa has solid list of differences in ELA standards…
  2. Interesting thoughts about #SEACCR action research question by @barbradonachy differentiationdiary.wordpress.com/2013/09/20/new…
  3. Here are examples of how I tweet the blogposts both to promote the work of others, as well as track my own activity. It is an easy practice that others might find worth doing, as well.
  4. BTW If anyone wants to be added to the #seaccr list I made twitter.com/akh003/lists/s… just let me know – don’t know if I missed anyone
  5. This was an effort to ensure that I have all the #SEACCRs listed in  Twitter list, which I also use to generate the SEACCR Tweeted Times newspaper. The list seems appreciated and having an impact.
  6. I am thinking my #seaccr question will give me excuse to finally get @hickstro Troy Hicks’ new book – been wanting to get it anyway
  7. @akh003 That’s great, thanks. Is #seaccr a teacher research project? That seems to be what I am getting from the tweets.
  8. @hickstro @akh003 It is – a nine week experience to help teachers conduct research in their classrooms! #seaccr
  9. @ak_leeg @akh003 Sounds great! Please let me know if I can be of help… I am always interested in teacher research. #seaccr
  10. @hickstro @akh003 #seaccr we’d love for you to come in at 4:30 AKDT on Tuesday or Thursday with us! A wonderful group of AK teachers others
  11. As it turns out, Troy Hicks’ new book may not impact my inquiry as much as I originally thought. However, mentioning him did prompt a response, which may result in his participating in one of our upcoming Twitter chats which would no doubt benefit everyone. Hicks is a great ambassador scholar.
  12. Wondering if I can find any #seaccr literature on using Google Docs with students that isn’t propaganda, plenty on reader response grps
  13. @akh003 #seaccr I wouldn’t focus on Google Docs…that won’t be the end all – it will be the way you use it – your teaching strategies & Mgmt
  14. @ak_leeg I hear you, but I am interested in how the built in digital collaboration of GDocs changes the writing process for students #seaccr
  15. @akh003 #seaccr ah – well I’ll do some looking and see if I can find…I’m sure there are articles and conf proceedings. Tried Google Scholar?
  16. @ak_leeg Will do. Just starting the #seaccr hunting and gathering
  17. @JNUrain @ak_leeg Not quite. More interested in the tool’s impact on reader response groups and the writing process. #seaccr
  18. @JNUrain @ak_leeg Wondering what the impact actually is? Does that live interactive ability record comments and such help or hinder? #seaccr
  19. Here is a longer exchange around my inquiry that helped clarify and lead to an instructional video from Dr. Lee Graham. That in turn helped me identify a number of potentially helpful sources to read.
  20. @RazorMath @BarbraDonachy @ak_teacher I’m gatherin you all know the mother of differentiation in Carol Ann Tomlinson #seaccr – met her once
  21. @akh003 @BarbraDonachy @ak_teacher #seaccr – I didn’t, but I actually haven’t looked into anything. thanks! You just gave me some good info
  22. THis exchange was all about sharing knowledge and assisting a colleague with a potential resource.
  23. @fadwaedais So I am really fascinated what you find with this. I can tip you to a bunch of stuff that they have done in Australia #seaccr
  24. @fadwaedais You might want to take a look at the work of David Rose and JR Martin from Univ. of Sydney #seaccr – fascinating stuff as alt.
  25. Similarly, continuing to pass information that may be helpful, based on prior knowledge and project.

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Final Thoughts from the Week that Was

Ultimately, I was able to get a good start on gathering up some research material and articles. I still hope to dig a bit deeper into the roots of peer response groups, since that is a considerable foundation for my line of inquiry. I know from reading and experience that quality peer response groups are predicated on explicit teaching and practice. It takes time to cultivate practices and habits that are beneficial. My hope is to find some additional methods and strategies to improve the groups as well as glean insights into how Google Docs might be better leveraged in the process.

Annotating an Initial #SEACCR Bibliography

Photo: Bibliography

Bibliography – cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo by Alexandre Duret-Lutz

Running behind a bit, again. Still, once I got a chance to sit down and start compiling things, the process moved much faster. I also came to realize that the more precise term for what interests me is peer response groups, not reader response groups. Still, my inquiry is essentially the same: How does the use of use of Google Docs impact peer response groups and change or shape the writing process? Of course it still subject to revision, but that is where I am at present.

While I tried to examine a number of documents, so far I have found that there is not as much material specifically related to my line of inquiry. This potentially opens a small window for a substantive investigation that examines the impact of Google Docs on peer response groups. I may need to widen my reading to include more background on the theory that underlies peer response groups to both deepen my understanding and attenuate me to ways in which Google Docs as a tool might alter the experience. I definitely found some good articles to get started with a lot of leads to more potential readings.

Lastly, just for the sake of easier reading, I formatted the actual citations with a subtle background shading just to aid readability and keep the sections visually separated.

Kittle, P., & Hicks, T. (2009). Transforming the group paper with collaborative online writing. Pedagogy9(3), 525-538.

While only tangentially connected to my inquiry, this article behind framing out more theory and practice behind the related concept of collaborative writing. It is primarily focused on providing a number of practical activities for teaching and learning collaborative writing, using technology tools, as well as addressing how groups work together in multiple contexts. It is a great introduction to the concept of collaborative writing, which is related to my inquiry about peer response groups and highlights where a lot of the most current inquiries seem to headed.

Lacina, J., & Block, C. C. (2012). Progressive writing instruction: Empowering school leaders and teachers. Voices from the Middle, 19(3), 10-17.

This article investigated seventeen populous district’s views on middle school writing instruction for the 21st century. It itemizes a list of research-based writing instruction practices geared for improving adolescents and tried to identify their presence in classrooms across the observed districts. This article contains a rich array of references to other studies and articles, perhaps providing its greatest potential value. Considering that the sections I am observing are ninth graders, this middle school study seemed relevant.

One of the recommendations specifically discusses peer response groups, although they are more geared toward responding to literature and not peer generated writing specifically. However, it promotes the concept of real-time collaborative writing, using technology tools. While similar, it is not quite the same concept of my inquiry. There is definitely a tension point between collaborative writing and peer response groups.

Lin, W. C., & Yang, S. C. (2013). Exploring the roles of Google. doc and peer e-tutors in English writing. English Teaching: Practice and Critique, 12(1).

Despite this study being in a English as a Foreign Language context with a tutoring component, this study has a quality review of literature regarding peer feedback. The findings are confirmed Google Docs as a success platform for social interaction between parties. They did however find challenges with the Google Docs service, which may potentially occur with any cloud solution. Also, considering continued upgrades and improvements to the service, it is unlikely that the problems experienced account for more than inconveniences.

Hedin, B. (2012). Peer Feedback in Academic Writing Using Google Docs.

Courtesy of Lee’s tutorial video, this might be the best pure article related to my inquiry. In it, a number of students in an undergraduate program participated as they developed degree project reports, using Google Docs for Peer Feedback Marking (PFM), which is essentially the kind of peer response method I am currently using with students.  In survey questions, respondents ranked written peer feedback and oral feedback similarly, although supervisor written feedback outranked both. Additionally, nearly 70% preferred the comment features in Google Docs over threaded discussion comments as available in an learning management system (LMS). The study also explores a high acceptance for reading electronic texts, which seemed surprised the investigator. This was something that I had not necessarily considered when conceiving my investigation. There are definitely some quality questions and methods to be gleaned from this study.

Pae, J. K. (2010). Collaborative Writing versus Individual Writing: Fluency, Accuracy, Complexity, and Essay Score. Officers & Executive Board, 1(2011), 121.

An interesting tangential article examining collaborative and individual writing. The main value of this piece is in the literature review and the references regarding collaborative and individually produced texts. It is not of primary concern but does provide some quality background on the theoretical opposition that I have kind of discovered is a bit more widespread than I understood prior to my inquiry.

Pargman, D., Hedin, B., & Hrastinski, S. (2013). Using group supervision and social annotation systems to support students’ academic writing. Högre utbildning, 3(2), 129-134.

In a subsequent study, Hedin and company were interested specifically in the social annotation system as a support, as well as how it fit into overall a supervision model. Again, using undergraduates this study required students to comment on each others writing, working in pairs only with the addition of supervisor input. There was very little advice about how or when to comment, something that they will choose to emphasize in future iterations. In fact, they will in future focus on what good performance is and facilitate the development of self-assessment, which is similar to the protocol that I use with students. A finding that is mentioned in both Hedin studies is an increase in student on-time completion rates, something that I had not thought to measure at all.