Archive for the ‘ED800’ Category

Collaboration 2.0 Action Research

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

As a part of fulfilling a requirement for my research class I was to design a research proposal in an area of my choosing. Since I tend to you a lot of technology in my own classroom I am interested in the exploration of Collaboration using social media and the possible benefits of its use. Included in this post is the entire content of the research proposal. I hav not yet conducted the research as I was hoping to recieve some feedback and adjust as needed. I am hoping to carry through with this study and will keep you updated as progression happens.

Action Research Proposal
The progression of my professional growth as an educator has always been intertwined with technology. My role with technology has ranged from student facilitator to school consultant with responsibilities of hardware maintenance. Throughout the varying roles that technology had played within my career I had often wondered how technology would impact education at a classroom level. From my early experiences I quite often saw computer use as a reward and the subsequent game playing used as extrinsic motivation for assignment completion. Further along office applications took center stage as processing programs took root. All of this was great for productivity but besides having neatly typed assignments there seemed little academic benefit could be derived from the use of computers and education waited until the next emergence of education application programs. With the growth of web 2.0 technologies I began to see a connection emerging as to the use of these tools for collaboration and a shared learning experience. I took measures to alter one of my research assignments for a group of my students to allow for online sharing of research resources and any written material the students would like to share. Ten days and eighty two discussion posts resulted and while grading the paper of the students who posted the most often a perceived pattern emerged. It seemed students who were further into the discussions and sharing of content were scoring higher on the grading rubric than those students who did not utilize the online discussion forum. I wondered if there was a causal effect to the perceived pattern or whether it was corollary evidence observations. Were the students who utilized the online forum just displaying a higher level of familiarity with the content or was something more happening? I then turned my focus on the standardized tests given at the end of each school year and thought; Does a student using web 2.0 tools for collaboration translate into higher scores for the individual student on the states standardized science test?

When stating a hypotheses one must formulate a prediction and then formulate a second hypothesis that is mutually exclusive of the first and incorporates all possible alternative outcomes for that case. In research projects designs H0 refers to the null hypothesis and it describes all the remaining possible outcomes in opposition to the H1 or the research project hypothesis statement. (Shuttleworth, 2009) “The ‘null’ often refers to the common view of something, while the alternative hypothesis is what the researcher really thinks is the cause of a phenomenon” (Shutteworth, 2009).

In this research project the H1 is the examination of the impact of the current use of social media (web 2.0 technology) in a 7th grade middle school science classroom and its impact on Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) goals as measured by the state end of grade test. The H0

or null hypothesis for this study would be cited as; there will be no measurable impact on student end of grade test scores after having used social media (web 2.0 technology) in the classroom. In working to examine the research question one must remember that although a failure to prove the hypothesis (H1 ) can be observed as a failure of the whole research project it actually is a success. With every successive H0 or null hypothesis that is proven it brings research one step closer to an accurate portrayal or the factors producing the results that first drew interest (Shuttleworth, 2009).

Contextual Framework
My current teaching assignment is a seventh grade science class at a magnet middle school for Math, Science and Technology. My classroom has been outfitted with a Promethean Board for interactive technology use as well as the room being outfitted with six computers, one for each collaborative student group, which sets the stage for heavy use of technology in my classroom. I wanted to make sure student use of technology in the classroom was not superficial and the students could be provided with an opportunity for attaining measurable academic gains. End of grade tests are common practice in my current state of employment and part and parcel to this practice is quarterly summative assessments which are based on similar composition to the end of grade tests. As a conscientious educator I could not breakdown and teach to test questions in hopes of higher student test scores. I needed to find a way to engage students in the content and generate the same amount or greater familiarity with the course content. Social media is very much a part of middle school life outside of school so I wanted to explore the effect of this particular mode of communication as utilized in the classroom for the purpose of generating the familiarity needed by students to do well on end of grade tests or their quarterly equivalents.

In their book, “Turning Learning Right Side Up: Putting Education Back on Track”, authors Russell L. Ackoff and Daniel Greenberg acknowledge the serious flaws in the education system. They state that education focuses on teaching rather than learning (Ackoff, R., Greenberg, D., 2008). Ackoff and Greenberg challenge the education system and ask “Why should children — or adults, for that matter — be asked to do something computers and related equipment can do much better than they can? Why doesn’t education focus on what humans can do better than the machines and instruments they create?” (Ackoff, R., Greenberg, D., 2008). In approaching education in this manner they want to transform the education system to better reflect the intent of a wide variety of approaches being utilized to reach a far greater number of students learning styles. They write that the breakdown in education came when a generalized mass delivery of content needed to be established. In establishing such a class based industrial model for education it removed in part the focus education should have as a student based concept and created a expert based model of teacher delivered content. “Every word — teacher, student, school, discipline, and so on — took on meanings diametrically opposed to what they had originally meant” (Ackoff, R., Greenberg, D., 2008). Ackoff and Greenberg finish with placing education into two categories:
…one world consists of the schools and colleges (and even graduate schools) of our education complex, in which standardization prevails. In that world, an industrial training mega-structure strives to turn out identical replicas of a product called “people educated for the twenty-first century”; the second is the world of information, knowledge, and wisdom, in which the real population of the world resides when not incarcerated in schools. In that world, learning takes place like it always did, and teaching consists of imparting one’s wisdom, among other things, to voluntary listeners (Ackoff, R., Greenberg, D., 2008).
Education needs to be about the empowerment of the student and providing various routes to the attainment of knowledge and technology may be a twenty-first century tool that can achieve this lofty goal. Technology has the ability to transform the classroom back to a teacher facilitated environment where student collaboration is at the center and the technology tools supply the forum for this educational transition.

Emerging questions for continued exploration
The primary focus of this study is on the impact of the current use of social media (web 2.0 technology) in a 7th grade middle school science classroom and its impact on Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) goals as measured by the state end of grade test. However, upon examination several questions emerged:

1. Does the use of social media in a classroom generate increased familiarity with content areas of study and therefore impact student scores on standardized end of grade tests?

2. Does collaboration via web 2.0 tools translate into higher test scores on state generated end of year exams?

3. Can the use of online course materials provide curricular differentiation to various levels of student ability groups and in doing so translate into higher test scores on state generated end of year exams?

4. What effect does the digital divide have on lower socio-economic groups with limited access to computer use?

5. Does cultural legacies effect demographic groups posting certain content on social media sites?

Literature Review

Michael Wesch thought the creation of a platform for participation that allows students to realize and leverage the emerging media environment that students see as tools not just playful programs is an important change in perspective. Within the platform that Michael presents there is an element of collaborating embedded in his presented use of technology. Michael sets the traditional classroom in opposition to web 2.0 learning theories in that traditional classrooms are designed to be a setting where; to learn is to acquire something, information is scarce and hard to find, students should trust authority for good information, authorized information is beyond discussion, obey the authority and follow along. Michael continues his presentation with how the educational assumptions of the past no longer provide an adequate education today. Critique and evaluation of content needs to be a part of the new learning environment and student generated collective intelligence is the ultimate aim in the web 2.0 classroom. Micheal puts forth a multi step approach to using technology in the classroom. The first being creating a grand narrative to provide relevance and context of learning. In doing so it allows students and teachers to address semantic meaning within learning. This approach also creates a learning environment that values and allows leverage of the newly formed understanding to the learner themselves as this addresses the personal meaning in education and creates value in learning. In addressing both the semantic and personal aspects of education in a way that realizes and leverages the existing media environment Micheal envisions students who can leverage the existing media environment for their learning needs and by doing so making the educational experience more personal and valuable. (wesch)

In contrary to Micheal Weschs’ exploration of technology a significant segment of the education community is currently exploring the use of web 2.0 tools in classrooms as a part of inquiry based learning. Researchers do not anticipate students attaining gains which can be translated into significant achievement in student growth. Along with the ability for students to conduct purposeful searches educators may believe they are providing an enriched working environment for their students. In a technology and media rich environment students can instantly scan, clip notes, save and post anything they find will in mid search. Educators and students may begin to feel somewhat like an authority in certain disciplines; however, this perception is not what some research is telling us. The article “The web shatters focus, rewires brain” by Nicholas Carr, a note worthy Dartmouth and Harvard grad and author of numerous articles such as “Is Google Making us Stupid and his book “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains” shares neurological research done by psychiatrist and author Gary Small detailing specifically brain area reaction while individuals conduct Internet searches. Dr. Small’s research in the area of mapping brain response in the prefrontal cortex as subjects interact with google based searches works by measuring the blood flow to certain areas of the brain. Although there is a lot of brain activity, as measured by Whole Brain MRI machines, this does not mean that more is better. The current explosion of digital technology is not only changing the way we live and communicate,” Small concluded, “but is rapidly and profoundly altering our brains.” (Carr, 2010) Small contends that since the Internet allows us easy access to copious amounts of information and working through the vast reaches of cyberspace requires a different skill set. A skill set that tends to be more cursory and therefore turning its users into shallower thinkers. (Carr, 2010) Educators and students may be making new connections and it is important that research examines whether the new connections are beneficial to the learning process. As an educator contemplating in class use of technology this reading selection proved there is a need for further research on student achievement within web-based content inquiry.

A description of how data or artifacts are gathered
A quantitative approach to data gathering will be used to explore emerging trends in student achievement with a specific focus on increased standardized test scores in relation to time spent using social media or web 2.0 collaboration tools. The state generated Blue Diamond test is a system measure that shares similar attributes to the end of grade test being used as a year end measure. This test is given to all students and percentile comparison data is created that can be used to track student concept attainment in relation to state generated standard course of study. The data will be fed into the algorithm program that will compare student answers and provide a percentile comparison of each students concept attainment for the particular unit of study. Since the use of social media technology can be applied to an array of topics in the curriculum no one particular topic would provide more accurate data than another.
As student use of computers will be tracked at school using a daily log filled in by each student it is also important to gain an understanding as to computer use outside of the school setting. Surveys will be sent home to gather data on the availability of computers in students homes as this will allow researchers to assessing how often a student is on a social media site away from school. The more opportunities a student has to interact with the technology the more proficient they will become. In this case practice definitely makes perfect. The survey will include data gathering on time spent on the site, type of content added to the site, if the students main focus was image and/or video based, or if students were adding to the blog (written) section of the site. The variation in the content interaction is important as each require varying skill sets in visual, linguistic and critical thinking. Survey data can be interpreted through the use of graphs/data table comparing correlations between the survey data and test score achievement data gathered via the Blue Diamond assessments. A more in depth analysis of the data may include comparing the demographic subsets to the variations of content posted as to look for any trends between demographic groups and content interaction. The data may provide an insight into cultural legacies that draw particular demographic groups to post a particular content type and allows researchers to examine levels of content familiarity gained by various demographic subsets of the study.
When a study is designed to determine whether one or more variables of a program or treatment variable has a measurable cause and/or affect there may be one or more outcome variables (Smith, 2009). For this study I would focus on comparing the students in two similar classroom settings based on their ability groupings and achievement scores. In this research project the unit to be studied would be the individual child as you are able to generate test scores for each student. There would be an associated focus on the demographic group scores as an aggregate of classroom climate as a means to look at the whole picture. One must account for the variance of teacher approach to facilitating content delivery.

The time frame for the research would need to be long term. In using a longitudinal study that would take place over at least one school year this would allow the tracking of students through several topics as well as multiple variances of the Blue Diamond assessment. However, if time permitted a study over the course of the three years of middle would provide more complete data sets and therefore provide a more accurate measure of the impact social media use has on student achievement and raising standardized test scores. In utilizing a longitudinal approach for this study we have at least two waves of measurement. The first focus for measurement would be to examine the relationship within the variables being studied. In this project the relationship between the use of social media and student academic growth. The second wave of measurement would be in examining the causal focus. Looking at causality would allow the examination of the relationship between the event, use of social media and a second event, the achievement of higher standardized test scores, where the second event would be examined as a consequence of the first.

Within the data gathered one could look for a positive relationships emerging among the selected subject pools. In a positive relationship high values on one variable are associated with high values on the other. In this research the high value placed on gathering data on the effects of social media is correlated to the use of standardized test score data as both contain potential measures of student concept attainment. However, researchers may find a negative relationship connected to the data. A negative relationship implies that high values on one variable are associated with low values on the other. This is also sometimes termed an inverse relationship. In this study researchers may find more value being placed on the standardized test score data rather then the use of the social media as a means of increasing test scores.

Avoiding Fallacies
When conducting this research the research team must be aware of fallacies that may skew the results. The first such fallacy is an ecological fallacy where researchers make conclusions about individuals based only on the analyses of group data. For example one must be aware that a good class average on the standardized test does not translate into a broad finding of all individual students gaining an advantage from the use of social media. Secondly researchers need to acknowledge the exception fallacy. Exception fallacy occurs when a researcher makes a conclusion on the basis of an exceptional case. In the study of using social media to increase test scores there may be some outliers of exceptional gains in student test scores however, that may not be correlated to the use of technology as the student may have prior knowledge that skewed the results.

Variables to be considered:

Student groups to be explored: Black, Hispanic, White, Asian and other with both males and females in previously cited demographic categories. This allows a broader cross section of the student population to be explored with focus on the cultural legacies, which may effect research data. In examining the various demographic groups a more focused consideration can be given to the digital divide and its effect within the scope of this study. Also in an effort to avoid omitted variable bias in the research, researchers should look at the teacher effective index as data permits from the school districts Evaluation and Research site to explore various classroom teachers pedagogical approach in order to factor in its effect on the research data.

Research framework the experimental narrative
In this section, if I was to actually proceed with the research one would find the real world research examples of the process of answering the main focus being an examination of the impact of the current use of social media (web 2.0 technology) in a 7th grade middle school science classroom and its impact on Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) goals.

Included in this section would also be a description of the actual process of gathering the data including survey results, examples of student work, and snap shots of the summative assessments used to measure student growth. Along with the data I would include the data tables which highlight the correlated data sets from the research.
Provide evidence from research
In this section I would begin to discuss the emerging evidence from the gathered data in support of the research hypothesis. I would also tie into my research related research done in this field. In showing the parallel findings from various studies and my own I would hope to establish credibility through correlating the results from the various studies.
Conclusion and reflection of research
In the final section of reflection on the research performed I would seek to draw conclusions about the research and my findings. I would discuss the patterns in the data that work to support or refocus the original research question and examine the null hypothesis in relation to the data. In this section I would also discuss any unforeseen bias that may have emerged as a result of asking emerging questions from the literature review content. I would also explore ways to improve research in this field and offer suggestions for further research.
Acknowledgement of bias and precautions taken
I am a heavy user of technology in my own education so I believe there is value to the use of web 2.0 tools. I do see a cursory correlation of evidence that students do better in a classroom setting where they have access to computer use with a specific focus on standard course of study content. However, at this time my opinion comes without much tested data to support this belief. I am also cognizant of the digital divide separating segments of my demographic groupings allowing the more affluent students greater access to computer time out side of the school setting. In hoping to close the digital divide gap within the school setting I would set up class time in the computer lab at minimum of one day a week during the study to ensure at least a moderate level of balanced computer exposure. Although one day per week may not fully balance the digital divide inequality it would serve as a means to attempt a balance of computer exposure. Remember practice does make perfect.
End result
In this section I would draw a conclusion about whether the examination of the impact of the current use of social media (web 2.0 technology) in a 7th grade middle school science classroom has a positive impact on Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) goals in particular the summative state generated tests that measure student growth.

Carr, N. (2010, May 24). The web shatters focus, rewires brain. Retrieved from

Ackoff, D., Greenberg, D., (2008, August 20). Knowledge at Wharton, Retrieved from

Shuttleworth, Martyn (2009). How to Write a Hypothesis. Retrieved [October, 2010] from Experiment Resources:

Smith, M. (2009). Common mistakes in using statistics: spotting and avoinding them. Retrieved from

Politics in Education

Monday, October 11th, 2010

The following is an excerpt from a discussion about the role of politics in educational research. If allowed I hope to post my fellow classmates responses as they further this conversation.
In the political system “what counts as worthwhile knowledge is determined by the social and positional power of the advocates of that knowledge. The link here between objects of study and communities of scholars echoes Kuhn’s (1962) notions of paradigms and paradigm shifts” (Cohen, 2000). Governments place a lot of focus on the education system however, it seems the political swings of new pedagogy that govern our educational system tend to fluctuate to extremes as a means of distracting those attempting to draw attention to greater issues in education like a lack of authentic funding for public school programs. Many of the misguided reformations in education stem from third party research findings whose data is used for guidance in policy reform. Perhaps the style of research taking place in education is more of an ongoing evaluation of the system rather than the diagnosis that lager systemic changes are needed. Morrison provides one definition of evaluation as: “the provision of information about specified issues upon which judgments are based and from which decisions for action are taken”(Cohen, 2000). There is currently a large movement to connect educational research to policy making, which also brings into play the funding connected to educational research. Policy makers believe if research is kept separate from politics it loses much of its intended purpose and becomes a frivolous evaluation of a new set of programs.
On both a macro and micro level education is tied into the political system. On a micro-political level Usher and Scott argue that micro-politics, influence the commissioning of research, the kind of field-work and field relations that are possible, funding issues, and the control of dissemination of the research findings. Morrison suggests that this is particularly the case in evaluative research, where an evaluation might influence prestige, status, promotion, credibility, or funding (Cohen, 2000). In a profession where community opinions weigh heavily one must give the utmost consideration to the politics of the system. All decisions in education can and will have longer lasting, further reaching consequences than we can currently predict with any accurate measure. A continual evaluation of the system and the persistent reinvention of the system can only work to provide thoughtful feedback and hopefully some guidance in assessing academically sound teaching practices.


Cohen, Louis, Manion, Lawrence & Morrison, Keith. Research methods in education.
London; New York: Routledge/Falmer, 2000

Social Media’s role as a research assistant

Monday, September 13th, 2010

I believe social media’s use, as a research tool is a valid form of content aggregation. The categories of social media users as well as the intended use of their networks are as varied as the opinions of those attempting to merge education and social media. However, there are educators and researchers alike in their dislike of sites such as Wikipedia. Those individuals who see social media as a negative impact site the lack of authority on these sites and they are hesitant to buy into amateur community generated content. The opposing viewpoints of the debate are the foundation of this paper however my bias is towards the use of social media in education.

Social media is a web-based tool for sharing and discussing various forms of online media. The media can be referred to as user generated content (UGC) or consumer-generated media (CGM). Social media integrates technology, telecommunication, and social interaction based on the concept of generating shared meanings within communities (Melluso, 2010). One such community is housed at PBS where a tech savvy crew of journalists sought out to explore the use and cognitive effects of technology in education ranging from elementary students through university students.

Frontline: digital nation explores the role of technology in various applications and delves further into the digital world and the human experience of learning with technology. As a student’s education leads them further into the digital world one can begin to see web 2.0 tools as a viable means to enhance learning. As students are exposed to networks and various web tools, most often user generated it is evident they are developing multitasking abilities. Partnering this assumption is that students can develop higher order skills because of this new multi-task skill set. While reading online text if a student was to come across a word or concept unfamiliar to them she/he can click the hypertext and satisfy their curiosity or attempt to gain a deeper understanding of the topic. In web 2.0 socially based research any student can grab a link through a hash tag on twitter, scan through their delicious account network via tagged content, or scan over their Google reader subscriptions and all of these may yield resource material for their project. However, as I reflect on this there are positives and negatives associated with multitasking in the digital realm. First off I find myself distracted by other posts on twitter and I get side tracked while looking for one piece of information and end up on a journey in the opposite direction. How then do I combat the distracted nature of the new digital world in the classroom? I believe educators should approach the use of new social media with purpose. Educators must remove the excuse of distraction and help students focus on the intentions of learning and the learner. Why are we on a particular site in the first place? Fun, education or business? I acknowledge that there is a variety of reasons why an individual would visit a website and to list only three categories is quite limiting. As to the purpose of this paper I am trying to limit the distractions of more than three categories as I could go and research those further and include more resources and content around those as well and yet another 2.0 distraction in thought emerges. A distraction embedded in the content itself (Rushkoff, 2010).

As teachers in the digital age I believe our role is not to exploit technology in hopes of adding a wow factor to our lessons but rather teach through modeling the focused use of social media as a research tool. There are times when listening to music, texting, IMing and video chatting can take place concurrently but not when academic pursuits are the purpose in using technology. There is nothing new to this idea of undistributed focus. So, as teachers we need to meet the students where they live in the digital world and cater to their needs in the new social learning environment while facilitating the networking skills needed to exist in the new domain of research.

The acceptance of social media as a valid form of aggregation and dissemination of information is pursued by the “Wikimedia Foundation, a nonprofit organization that does fund-raising and back end support for the popular open-source encyclopedia” (Kolowich, 2010) where several colleges have adapted coursework including social media particularly Wikipedia. The goal of the course work is to have students become content generators on Wikipedia. Students had to follow a strict set of guidelines either critique existing content for errors and narrative or the students generate new content and then monitor the subsequent edits. Rochelle Davis believes the pressure students may feel in knowing their work is relied on for others research may drive greater due diligence in vetting content.

It is only lately that academe accepted the exploration and contributions to sites like Wikipedia. Up until the past several years there has been bans placed on using Wikipedia as a research source as actions taken at Middlebury College banned its use. An English department chair at the University of California wrote

“The academic community provides a constrained and relatively standard set of protocols for constructive collaboration and refereeing that could be built on (whereas the larger global community behind Wikipedia was more problematic because there is actually no such thing as a global community with sufficiently shared motives and standards of collaboration),” (Kolowich, 2010)

However, daunting this task may seem Wikimedia plans to recruit 15 more professors by the spring of 2011 confident academic acceptance will continue to grow.

Also a survey of K-12 Educators on Social Networking and Content Sharing Tools supports Wikimedia’s enthusiasm as they found that “61% of the educators we surveyed have joined a social networking website. Facebook is the site most educators have joined (85%). MySpace is a distant second (20%). LinkedIn, a popular site for the business community, is third (14%).” (k-12servey.PDF) The survey also found that “Educators who have joined a social network are more positive about the value of this technology for education. Overall, educators see a high value for social networking in education for a wide range of applications.” We are now at a time when the self-sorting elements of any organic mechanism take over and more specific applications of social media will emerge. As classroom teachers modify and adapt the use and classroom implementations of new media the ever-changing dynamics of student needs can be met. It is through the social networks that ideas will be shared, modified and again be adapted by new users with a shared purpose. The generation of high-end content is achievable through sharing educational resources. While teachers once walked across the hall or had to visit the library they can now check a webpage or one of their social network and share as well as be assisted by a larger community of learners.

I see a future in using social media as a research tool. Just as we may need to comb through many books in a library or reference section so to must we look for the quality amidst the flurry of content out there. I have reaped the benefit of social media as all the articles used to compose this paper were found via social media networking.

Feeling a bit nerdy…

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

Today is the start of my next class for grad school. I am taking an educational research class and am excited about furthering my learning. I guess the biggest aspect of my enthusiasm is that I feel familiar with the nature of the online course. This is a new feeling as the past several classes there has been small details I overlooked. Now armed with this new view point and knowledge I feel much more confident in my abilities to be successful in this class. Make sure to stay tuned this site as I will now be updating much more frequently as readings and assignments get my brain working.