Thank you to everyone who joined the Building a Research Agenda using Design-Based Research (DBR) webinar with Dr. Susan McKenney and Dr. Tom Reeves. We had a wonderful session filled with insightful suggestions and examples. The recording of the session is now available.
The more we study social media and online networks, the more evidence we find that these spaces are replete with tensions.
In our latest published study (citation below) with my colleague Royce Kimmons, we found that expectations of professionalization in online social networks cut deeply into pre-service teachers self-concept. We found that participants generally had difficulty articulating what professionalism in online social networks actually looks like and what constitutes appropriate and inappropriate action online. As participants were exposed to a better understanding of what professionalism means online, participants recognized that they were not completely aware that their behavior might be watched and scrutinized by others, and this realization surprised them. Many pre-service teachers were also surprised at the severity of professional requirements and how the public might scrutinize seemingly innocuous behaviors on social media.
Numerous participants explained that as teachers they will need to be careful to not offend any community members, and the topics of politics and religion featured significantly in these conversations.
Though participants seemed to feel that a plurality of political opinion was a good thing and that they should have a right to political opinions, they nonetheless seemed to feel that teachers should take care in voicing those opinions.
Religion, on the other hand, seemed to be a different issue altogether, as participants seemed to feel that it was appropriate for them to express religious beliefs online even if others might happen to take offense or to disagree with them.
It’s important here to pause and consider the following: Participants’ preference of religion over politics likely reflects sociocultural values of the geographic region where the study took place (i.e. at a University in the South), and may not be generalizable.
These findings suggest that teacher education students might be willing to adjust the way that they participate in some ways to fit in with professional expectations (e.g., political opinions), but that there are some cases where what they feel might be expected of them cuts so acutely into their self-concept that they are afraid of losing their sense of identity (e.g., religious beliefs).
The implications of this study are the following:
First, teachers must consider how participating in SNS or altering their participation in them (e.g., content, connections, etc.) may impact their identity and sense of who they are.
Second, if teachers do not clearly understand how moral turpitude is defined in a given community, then how can they be sure that their behavior (online or offline) is beyond reproach?
The dilemma facing teachers in SNS is the following: As teachers present themselves in SNS in a way that is reflective of their complex and ever-developing identities, they may find it difficult to maintain meaningful social connections in online spaces as they pass through new phases of life and are simultaneously judged in an historical manner.
Kimmons, R., & Veletsianos, G. (in press). Teacher Professionalization in the Age of Social Networking Sites: Identifying Major Tensions and Dilemmas. Learning, Media, and Technology.
Date/Time: July 24 at 12:00 pm (EST)
Topic: Building a Research Agenda using Design-Based Research (DBR)
Panelist: Dr. Susan McKenney and Dr. Thomas Reeves
Design-Based Research (DBR), Educational Design Research (EDR) and DBIR (Design-Based Implementation Research) share the dual aims of (1) deriving new knowledge through (2) the design and implementation of solutions to problems in educational practice. This family of research approaches involves intensive, long-term collaboration between researchers and practitioners during the development of viable solutions to practical problems while also conducting empirical investigation on or through the solutions created. While collaboration with practitioners stands to increase the relevance and practicality of work; it also poses challenges to researchers, whose mission requires them to: seek out research-worthy problems; employ rigorous methods; and generate new knowledge that is of value to others (outside the immediate context of investigation). This presentation discusses challenges, pitfalls and recommendations for establishing a research agenda using the DBR, EDR, and DBIR family of approaches.
Dr. Susan McKenney is Associate Professor in the Welten Institute at the Open University in the Netherlands and at Twente University. Her research focuses on understanding and supporting the interplay between curriculum development and teacher professional development, and often emphasizes the supportive role of technology in these processes. Dr. McKenney is committed to exploring how educational research can serve the development of scientific understanding while also developing sustainable solutions to real problems in educational practice. Since educational design research lends itself to these dual aims, she also works on developing and explicating ways to conduct design research. In addition to authoring numerous articles, she co-edited the book, Educational Design Research and, together with Tom Reeves, wrote the book, Conducting Educational Design Research. Dr. McKenney is also current editor of Educational Designer, the journal of the International Society for Design and Development in Education.
Dr. Thomas C. Reeves is Professor Emeritus of Learning, Design, and Technology at The University of Georgia. A former Fulbright Lecturer in Peru, he has been an invited speaker in the USA and more than 30 other countries. His research interests include evaluation of educational technology, socially responsible educational research, public health and medical education, authentic learning tasks, and educational technology applications in developing countries. From 1997-2000, he was the editor of the Journal of Interactive Learning Research. In 2003, he received the AACE Fellowship Award from the Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education, in 2010 he was made a Fellow of the Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education (ASCILITE), and in 2013 he was awarded the David H. Jonassen Excellence in Research Award by the Association for Educational Communications and Technology. His books include Interactive Learning Systems Evaluation with John Hedberg, A Guide to Authentic E-Learning with Jan Herrington and Ron Oliver (2010 Outstanding Book Award, Division of Design & Development, AECT), and Conducting Educational Design Research with Susan McKenney (2013 Outstanding Book Award, Research and Theory Division, AECT).
Resources about Educational Design Research (also known as Design-Based Research)
Conducting Educational Design Research book site
We have a new paper available that continues our research on networked participation/learning and networked participatory scholarship. This one arises out of Royce Kimmons’ dissertation, which I had the joy, honor, and good fortune of chairing.
The media is filled with stories pertaining to educators’ and researchers’ participation in online social networks. For example, a debate erupted in Kansas in December 2013 regarding faculty members’ use of social media and teachers have found themselves in trouble for their social media updates. Yet, little research has been done to understand the relationship between educator identity and participation in Social Networking Sites (SNS) or to examine the implications that institutional regulation of such media may have upon educator identity.
In our latest research study, we developed a framework to understand how a group of teacher education students viewed their developing identities within social networking sites as they began the life transition to becoming educators. We found that educator identity consists of a constellation of interconnected acceptable identity fragments (AIF)*. These acceptable identity fragments are intentional, authentic, transitional, necessarily incomplete, and socially-constructed and socially-responsive.
We arrived at the term “acceptable identity fragment,” because study participants:
- shaped their participation in social networking sites in a manner that they believed to be “acceptable” to their audiences,
- viewed this participation to be a direct expression of “identity” or their sense of self, and
- felt this expression to only represent a small “fragment” of their complete identities.
The AIF suggests that participants in a given social context may limit their participation or expression of identity in a way that is appropriate to that specific context or is acceptable to the specific relationships they have with others in that context. The existence of the AIF means that educator identities within SNS are contextual and intentionally limited and structured. Participants believe that, when participating in SNS, they are expressing their identities in a limited, though authentic, manner. In their view, such expression represents a genuine fragment of their identities.
This view of educator identity contrasts sharply with previous views of identity by highlighting the complicated, negotiated, and recursive relationship that exists between educator participation in SNS and educator identity.
First, existing literature assumes that individuals have an authentic identity and suggests that they attempt to express these identities in varying degrees via social media. Our research finds that human beings may not ever find themselves in social contexts wherein they will choose to (or are even able to) express their full authentic identities and, instead, express a different AIF depending upon the situation.
Second, in Goffman’s view (1959), identity is adaptable and constantly emergent as we “act” in contexts. In the AIF view, there is no “acting” occurring, but rather we see a guarded revelation of fragments of the self. Thus, identity was not an emergent phenomenon of the scene; it was controlled and revealed partially.
Finally, Turkle (1995) suggests that the online self lacks coherence and is fluid. However, participants in our study were operating from what they believed to be a coherent sense of self and judged their SNS participation based upon alignment with that sense. Participation did not lack coherence – it was merely a partial manifestation.
What does this mean for educators, educational administrators, and educational researchers?
First, if the AIF is intentional and authentic, then it seems important for educators to retain control of their SNS participation. If institutions seek to prescribe appropriate and inappropriate uses of the medium, then it seems that this will prevent educators from being able to make meaningful choices regarding authentic self-expression and self-representation
Second, if the AIF is transitional, social media technologies must accommodate individuals’ transition into new life phases. At present, social media spaces do not support this (e.g., Facebook’s Timeline and the difficulty of deleting participation history en masse). If technologies doe not support the transition into new life phases, they risk being abandoned.
Third, educators should seek to recognize the assumptions that SNS platform developers are making about human nature, meaningful social participation, relationships, and so forth and consider the impact that such assumptions may have on their participation and identity.
Fourth, judgments made about educators based upon their participation in SNS should consider life transitions, time-based contexts (e.g., behavior as a college freshman vs. behavior as a student teacher), and the embedded values of the media.
Finally, if the AIF is a necessarily incomplete component of a larger identity constellation, any judgments of educators based on SNS participation must recognize that the relationship of the AIF to overall identity is subject to interpretation and may not reflect an individual’s perception of how the AIF represents authentic identity. Fragmentation of identity, then, should be seen as a valuable response to complex social situations. SNS platforms should account for this, and as we make judgments about others based upon their fragmented identities, we should be cognizant of the complex relationship existing between the AIF and one’s larger identity and dispel the myth of a simple authentic vs. inauthentic binary.
You can download a pre-print copy of the study from the link below:
Kimmons, R., & Veletsianos, G. (2014). The Fragmented Educator 2.0: Social Networking Sites. Acceptable Identity Fragments, and the Identity Constellation. Computers & Education, 72, 292-301. Journal link.
* The usual grounded theory and interpretive research caveats apply.
Enilda Romero-Hall and Min Kyu Kim have organized the second AECT Research and Theory division Professional Development Webinar session. Join us!
Dr. Ryan Baker (http://www.columbia.edu/~rsb2162/)
Learning Analytics – Potential and Principles
February 6, 2014 at 1:30 P.M. (EDT)
Increasingly, students’ educational experiences occur in the context of educational technology, creating opportunities to log student behavior in a fashion that is both longitudinal and very fine-grained. These data are now available to the broad education research community through large public data repositories such as the Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center (cf. Koedinger et al, 2008).
In this talk, I will discuss how the emerging Learning Analytics and Educational Data Mining communities are combining these data sources with data mining methods in order to scalably use this data to make basic discoveries about learners and learning. In this talk, I will both discuss learning analytics methods in general, and some of their key applications in studying and supporting learners.
42 blog posts later, and the lights on 2013 are about to go out. Collecting my 2013 posts in one location was a good way to think back to this year and reflect on it Because, these are days for reflecting, pausing, sharing, embracing, and remembering. Because these are days for doing what we should be doing more often.
I am looking for reports (1 or 2 would suffice, really), describing what people learned the first time they taught/offered a MOOC and how they changed the design of the course the next time it was offered. In other words, how have you revised the course? What data led you to make the changes that you did?
I have not been able to find any writing on the subject – I am hoping that it’s just me not using the right keywords.
Friends who oversee MOOC design/development and colleagues who taught the same MOOC more than once. Do you have any suggestions for me?
Design-based research? Iterative design, anyone? Perhaps even just a formative evaluation with suggestions for future courses?
During September-October, I spent 10 days as a visiting Researcher at the Open University of Catalonia (UoC) in Barcelona, and specifically with the gracious and hospitable researchers, designers, and faculty members of the eLearn Center. The eLearn Center manages an impressive array of projects, events, and resources, a large number of which are funded by the European Union. It also funds researcher visits to the UoC for knowledge exchange and exploration of collaborative work, and I was very fortunate to be invited to participate in this program.
A custom-built system, dubbed “home lab,” is mailed to each UoC engineering student for hands-on work
The Open University of Catalonia is strikingly similar to Royal Roads. The institution was established in 1994 when a group of creative individuals came together and envisioned a virtual institution that would capitalize on the opportunities of a nascent Internet to serve adult learners and working professionals. While these ideas might sound familiar in 2013, they were quite bold and innovative in 1994, bringing traditional distance education into new and uncharted waters. UoC, like Royal Roads, has an institution-wide educational model that focuses on progressive pedagogies, highlighting and valuing interdisciplinary thinking, collaborative learning, and ongoing assessment (here is a copy of Royal Road’s teaching and learning model to compare). I was especially excited to see the institution’s support for open access and open scholarship.
While in Barcelona, I spent a lot of time talking with colleagues and discussing opportunities for collaboration. One of the highlights of my trip was meeting with individual doctoral students and advising them on their research. It was especially fun to spend an hour or so with Antonella Esposito who studies doctoral students’ digital practices, as her work relates to the concept of Networked Participatory Scholarship that Royce Kimmons and I have been investigating since 2011. I also gave a seminar on qualitative methodologies for analyzing learners and educators’ naturalistic online participation and a lecture with a very long title: The significant opportunities and challenges that learners, educators, researchers, and learning institutions are facing in the age of “open” and “connected.”