Category Archives: Research

NZ Educational Blog Stats

Should I be excited or depressed?

I noticed a new incoming link to my blog this week which comes from the Halfdone NZ Blog Stats.

This site is listed there as the 389th most popular blog in NZ. Which equates to the 12th most popular education blog.

I hear you ask, what about widely read blogs such as Derek’s Blog and others? Well to qualify for these stats, amongst other things,  your blog needs to be listed in Alexa or Technorati and you can’t be paid to complete it. Not sure if it is part of Derek’s JD or not…

More info on how these ratings are compiled are here and if you think your blog should be, let the post author know, politely.

Here are your top educational blogs, including three that have not been updated in a while but still must be pretty popular.

133: Leading and Learning

177: Artichoke

190: PPTA

245: Hey Milly!

250: Manaikalani

265: ICT U Can

297: The Educated Kiwi *

312: ICT in Early Education*

325: Toni Twiss Mobilising Education *

341: SLAB

379: Dragonsinger

389: Elearning Infusion

393: Subversive ICT

* = noted as a ‘defunct’ blog

Summer Reading

If you are anything like me you have a folder on your laptop containing numerous readings, research reports and other publications just waiting for you to find the time to read them.

Here are some of the current contents of that folder, some summer reading for you before the new school year starts again.

eLearning/21st Century Learning:

The impact of digital technology: A review of the evidence of the impact of digital technologies on formal education. BECTA. “There is now a growing body of national and international evidence demonstrating the positive impact of digital technologies on measurable learning outcomes…”

The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age. Cathy Davidson and David Goldberg. “Modes of learning have changed dramatically over the past two decades—our sources of information, the ways we exchange and interact with information, how information informs and shapes us. But our schools—how we teach, where we teach, who we teach, who teaches…”

The MILE Guide: Milestones for Improving Learning & Education. Partnership for 21st Century Skills. “The MILE Guide helps districts determine where they are on the spectrum of 21st century skills integration and then use that information to plan a path for future work that brings 21st century skills in their systems of learning.”

Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning. US Dept. of Education. “Online learning—for students and for teachers—is one of the fastest growing trends in educational uses of technology.”

School libraries building capacity for student learning in 21C. Foley and Hay. “An effective school library contributes to the school’s program for integrating the development of information literacy and digital literacy…”

The Pedagogy Strategy – Learning in an online world. MCEETYA. “Pedagogies that integrate information and communication technologies can engage students in ways not previously possible, enhance achievement, create new learning possibilities and extend interaction with local and global communities.”

Equipping Every Learner for the 21st Century. CISCO. “Although the vision is global, the path to 21st century education requires a local journey; one that recognizes and responds to specific challenges and opportunities.”

mLearning:

iPod Touch Research Report. Department of Education, Early Childhood Development., Victoria. “Primary school children today use mobile portable devices as a matter of course in their lives outside school. While the gap between technology devices used in everyday life and those used in schools continues to widen, many schools have decided to trial mobile devices in an effort to keep pace with emerging technologies.”

Pockets of Potential: Using Mobile Technologies to Promote Children’s Learning. Carly Shuler. “Pockets of Potential argues that despite legitimate public concern about the “disruptive track record” of mobile devices in schools, there is reason to be excited about their potential.”

Professional Learning:

Evaluating Professional Development. Thomas R Guskey. “Using five critical levels of evaluation, you can improve your school’s professional development program. But be sure to start with the desired result – improved student outcomes.”

Designing Powerful Professional Development for Teachers and Principals. Dennis Sparks. “This book has a simple three-part premise: First, quality teaching makes a difference in student learning. Second, the professional learning of teachers and principals is…”

School Leadership and Student Outcomes: Identifying What Works and Why. Professor Vivianne M. J. Robinson. “This Best Evidence Synthesis identifies the leadership activities that make a greater difference for students. The findings of the BES provide direction for leaders about where they can most effectively invest their time.”

Teacher professional learning and development. Helen Timperley. “This particular booklet is based on a synthesis of research evidence produced for the New Zealand Ministry of Education’s Iterative Best Evidence Synthesis (BES) Programme, which is designed to be a catalyst for systemic improvement and sustainable development in education.”

Managing Professional Learning and Development in Primary Schools. ERO. “Teaching is a complex and demanding profession. Teachers require high quality support and training throughout their careers to ensure they have the strategies and skills to meet the needs of learners…”

What else can you recommend?

The Role of e-Portfolios in Formative and Summative Assessment

This report and a series of case studies has recently been released by JISC. The publications relate to eportfolio practice in Higher and Further Education contexts in the UK. While that in itself is quite far removed from the primary classroom in New Zealand, whenever the words formative and eportfolios are mentioned in the same line I am naturally curious, due to my own research into the relationship between the two.

Firstly some nuts and bolts stuff. The case studies unpack eportfolio practice in 34 institutions, asking a range a questions/prompts including the context to who is assessing the eportfolio, the tool used and its’ social networking ability and reference to the pedagogical support and summative/formative assessment implications. The question and prompts in themselves are quite focused and almost suggest a criteria of what should or shouldn’t be used in a successful eportfolio implementation. Regarding the tool used, the predominant option for eportfolios was either PebblePad or BlackBoard based with other options including Plone, Joomla, Elgg, Moodle, WordPress, ePet or a self developed in house system.

The report itself has some useful parts. The discussed benefits of eportfolios reinforce the concepts we already are familiar with. I found Table 2, the Matrix of e-portfolio functionality and pedagogical/administrative value against case studies the most useful as it cross references criteria to particular case studies in order to find out more.

Overall though I was disappointed with the reference to and discussion of eportfolios and how they were supporting formative practice. Maybe this comes from my definition of formative practice as opposed to those writing the report:

The terms ‘formative’ and ‘summative’ do not describe different types of assessment. They refer to the purpose of the assessment, the use to which it is put. The summative purpose of assessment is to identify educational achievement as a matter of public record, for use in selection and certification. The formative purpose is to provide information to the learner and others concerned with the process of learning about the learner’s progress, strengths and areas for improvement. Practitioners often refer to assessment used for formative purposes as ‘feedback’.

Or maybe that highlights the difference between the educational sectors, primary vs. tertiary and primary vs. secondary. I see formative assessment (better labeled as assessment for/of/as learning) as being distinctly different from summative assessment. Yes you can use summative assessment formatively, as is almost suggested above, but formative assessment is so much more than that. Student control, student ownership, student understanding. Yes feedback is a component of that as is the learner’s progress, strengths and areas for improvement, but so is effective questioning, co-construction, exemplars, peer and self assessments, ongoing reflections… how does eportfolio use in HE and FE support such strategies?

Are existing assessment structures and expectations holding these institutions back from letting go and giving ownership and responsibility over to the learner?

Promoting Teacher Professional Learning and Development

ULearn09 Spotlight with Prof. Helen Timperley co author of the Teacher Professional Learning and Development: Best Evidence Synthesis Iteration (BES). The good news too is that this huge document has been synthesised into an brochure/pamphlet format to make it more accessible to educators, available here.

What are the kinds of teacher professional development and learning that leads to improved student learning?

Firstly, why do teachers need PD? Amongst other reasons, knowledge is changing and the way our students learn is becoming clearer as more research and information comes to light. Teachers learning from experience is not enough!

Four understandings about professional learning for improving student outcomes:

  1. Strongly influenced by what and how teachers teach
  2. PD cannot be an add on
  3. Effective PD responds to how teachers learn (too often we focus on how our students learn but not our teachers)
  4. Shaped by the context in which teachers practice. e.g. the environment, opportunities for PD and the students themselves.

What works?

Firstly formative assessment. Formative assessment works for teachers in the same way that it does for students. Teachers know why they are learning and what they are learning. They are in control of and monitor their own success. This is a key point as so often what we practice in the classroom is not mirrored in professional learning opportunities such as teacher only days or after school workshops. We need to adapt what we integrate into the classroom, and what we know works for our students, into our professional learning opportunities.

Secondly, effective professional learning is embedded in the teacher inquiry cycle (the following stages are adapted/revised from those in the BES).

>> What knowledge and skills do students needs? >> What knowledge do we as teachers need? >> Deepen professional knowledge and refine skills >> Engage in new learning experiences >> What has been the impact of our changed actions? >>

Principals of effective PD:

Focus on valued student outcomes: (matched to appropriate teaching activities or learning experiences). The success of any PD is determined by student outcomes NOT teacher skills.

Worthwhile content: known teaching knowledge and skills form the basis of effective PD, supported by research evidence.

Integration of knowledge and skill: essential to promote deep teacher learning. Deep knowledge of curriculum, how to teach effectively and how to assess. Integrating theory and practice.

Assessment for professional inquiry: a formative approach to what teachers need to know based on their analysis and information on student achievement.

Multiple opportunities to learn and apply: within a supportive and trusted and challenging environment.

Approaches are responsive to learning processes: different types of PD are required that relate to existing teacher beliefs. Teachers are as diverse as their students.

Opportunities to process new learning with others: teacher interaction, focused on student outcomes, helps teachers put new learning into their existing practice.

Knowledgeable expertise: to challenge assumptions and beliefs, develop new knowledge and skills.

eFellow Research Report

My eFellowship research report is ready to go.

The research investigates the formative benefits of eportfolios using two case studies of primary school classes as they implement an online eportfolio solution. Observations and interviews with students and teachers and the eportfolios are used to compare the outcomes with the underlying characteristics of formative assessment thus answering the question, what are the formative benefits of eportfolios?

I hope you find it useful!

ePortfolios and Assessment for Learning by Nick Rate

ePortfolios and Formative Practice on EdTalks

The 2008 eFellows all met up for the final time last week. While tying up any loose ends and finalising our research we all managed to squeeze in a videoed discussion on our research or a related topic for the EdTalks site. Not expecting to see my video online until next year I was surprised to see that it is ready to go.

I have not had a chance to view it yet but will get on to it straight away thanks to the free WiFi at the Rangiora Library.

uLearn08 Workshop Presentation

Here is an abridged version of my uLearn 08 workshop presentation, minus any audio or video content, activities, links and of course the all important commentary. If I have time, a slidecast version will be added in the future.

Any feedback would be welcome either here or on SlideShare.

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: 2.0 web)

Effective Practice with e-Portfolios

JISC has released a new publication, Effective Practice with e-Portfolios: Supporting 21st century learning, available here.

JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) has the mission to provide world-class leadership in the innovative use of ICT to support education and research.

While this report is based on findings and studies in higher and further (beyond secondary) education, it is a wealth of information for anyone interested in eportfolios whether you have your own established system or are embarking on the journey.

It looks at eportfolios from 5 different perspective: the learner’s, practitioner’s, institution’s, life-long learner’s and audience’s. It includes narratives from people as they experience eportfolio-based learning as well as many diagrams to clearly explain the processes involved.

This is not a one stop, how to use eportfolios to support learning guide, but the experiences, advice and case studies highlight many considerations and decisions that you will need to make in order to successful implement eportfolio-based learning.

JISC also has an online resource JISC Infonet: good practice and innnovation, which provides details on more projects and provides plenty of links to other resources.

The benefits of Web 2.0, RSS, XML, Atom, tags & categories in ePortfolios

As a follow up to my last post I have just read the following article as part of my efellow research.

This may be of interest to those of you who would like a further and much more detailed (yet easy to read) explanation of using the benefits of Web 2.0, RSS, XML, Atom, tags, categories for organising ePortfolios and promoting learning.

In the right environment the social networking potential of the learning landscape and eportfolio-related tools are features that facilitate and enhance the making of connections and the linking together of people, ideas, resources and learning… (pp. 30)

The Learning Landscape: A conceptual Framework for ePortfolios.

Chen, H., Haywood, J., Light, T., Tosh, D., & Werdmuler, B. (2006).

Available in: Handbook of research on ePortfolios. Hershey PA: Idea Group Reference, pp. 24-32.

Well worth a read if you can get hold of it. There is certainly a lot more worthwhile reading in the full handbook which contains contributions from over 100 of the world’s leading experts.

Developing Digital Portfolios

I have just read this article:

Developing digital portfolios: investigating how digital portfolios can facilitate pupil talk about learning.
Kate Wall, Steve Higgins, Jen Miller and Nick Packard
Centre for Learning and Teaching, University of Newcastle, UK.

Technology, Pedagogy and Education
Vol. 15, No. 3, October 2006, pp. 261-273

As part of this research project I read a lot of articles in the areas of eportfolios and assessment for learning. Like anything you read, be it a magazine article, novel, or newspaper, as you are reading you can immediately connect (or not) with the text and message. This article was one of those. Throughout reading it I found myself nodding my head and murmuring consent to the ideas and concepts it was discussing as they mirrored some of the central aims of my research.

If you are interested in eportfolios, assessment for learning and thinking skills I thoroughly recommend you source a copy of this article.

Some ideas the conclusions that grabbed the attention of my highlighter:

The combination of a digital portfolio and thinking skills has been revealed to be a powerful one with plenty of scope for development in the primary classroom.

The reflective nature of the pupils’ comments regarding their learning and achievement as part of the digital portfolio gives valuable evidence to support formative assessment theory.

…a digital portfolio has the potential to create independent learners who are responsible for the collection of their own evidence of achievements across the curriculum and this process has impact on the pupils and how they perceive themselves and their learning.

Another couple of reasons why this research interested my was that it included many quotes from students. The students’ voice really gave the article added authenticity for me and less academic blah.

Finally, the fact that this research was undertaken with primary aged children was a breath of fresh air as the majority of research and published articles are predominantly secondary of tertiary education based.