This is the second entry on student projects developed during my Spring 2011 Adventure Learning course. Students in this class developed online learning environments using the Adventure Learning approach, and one team focused their project on teachers who leave the profession and examined their reasons for doing so. I particularly enjoyed this project because (a) it informs an important and pertinent topic, and (b) it departs from traditional adventure learning projects, treating “adventure” as a location-independent activity. What follows is a description of the project, largely based on student text:
Video from student project depicting one of the project findings: Studies have shown that one of the major reasons
that teachers leave the profession is related to what they consider to be bureaucratic or administrative issues.
Why We Don’t Teach is an Adventure Learning project intended to give policy makers, administrators, and others interested in the current state of public education in the United States an understanding of why teachers are leaving the profession. It has recently been shown that the shortage of quality teachers we are facing as a nation stems from problems of retention rather than problems of recruitment. According to one study, nearly 50% of all teachers leave the field within their first five years of teaching.
Why is this happening? While this topic is complex with many factors that confound easy remediation, the Why We Don’t Teach environment offers resources and curriculum (e.g., Session 1, Session 2, Session 3) for exploring the issue both systemically and from the perspective of teachers who have left the profession.
During Spring 2011, I taught a course on Adventure Learning, which is an approach to designing open-ended online learning environments that provide learners with opportunities to explore real-world issues through collaborative, experiential, and inquiry-based learning experiences. Students in this class had to develop an online learning environment using this approach, and what follows is one student project, as described by students themselves:
GrowPlantHere! is a hybrid learning project. Our three garden adventurers planted their own gardens and shared their experiences in order to provide the framework for a lesson plan that teaches the fundamentals of urban gardening. The curriculum was devised for a classroom of adults participating in a 4-week informal class. The nature of the curriculum is focused squarely on Austin, and field trips have been included to local gardening sites. However, the issues of sustainability, self-reliance, and health are universal and often discussed to bring prospective to the project. This online learning environment serves not only to serve up the curriculum and date we created for GrowPlantHere!, but also to provide a place for students, experts, instructors, and the garden adventurers to connect. Students are encouraged to share pictures, ask questions of experts on our resources page, and post about their home gardens in the forum. As they progress, they can read about the garden adventurers as they take on the same tasks and experience the same frustrations and victories.
About a year and a half ago, I published a list of open access educational technology journals. This list is available as an editable spreadsheet, so you can contribute if you wish, by adding journals (or indicating the ones that have become defunct). The list has garnered quite a lot of attention, so let me also take this opportunity to thank those who contributed to it.
The reason for this entry however, is because Scott McLeod asked whether I had a list of EdTech journals that are not open access. I do. I have lists that I consult, but let me preface that with the following:
Even though I have specific journals in mind when writing a manuscript, I consult lists of educational technology journals to remind myself of my options prior to actually writing. The open access list above is just one of those and it does not always fit my purposes. I also consult the following lists (which do not necessarily differentiate between open/closed access):
- The European Reference Index for the Humanities (ERIH) and the ERIH lists. While the purposes of this project are complex, one of its aims was to create journal rankings in the humanities, including educational research
- The 2007 Ascilite list
- The Instructional Technology Publications list created by Dr. Ross Perkins and colleagues
- and, finally, if you are interested in distance education, this article provides a list of journals that may be valuable (in addition to some extra food for thought): Zawacki-Richter, O., Anderson, T., & Tuncay, N., (2010). The Growing Impact of Open Access Distance Education Journals: A Bibliometric Analysis. The Journal of Distance Education, 24(3). Retrieved from http://www.jofde.ca/index.php/jde/article/view/661.
I hope this is helpful… if nothing else, these are now collected at one place, so that I can direct my students to this entry when they are asking for journals to explore.