Newsletter - July 2005Welcome to the second edition of the ascilite newsletter for 2005. The lead article in this edition has been produced by Mike Keppell from the Hong Kong Institute of Education (Centre for Integrating Technology in Education).
This is a seminal article in helping ascilite and its members clarify acceptable research strategies and standards. The article reports on different perspectives for what constitutes valid and reliable research, and discusses different perspectives from key authors. This is a particularly timely article with the current Government's priorities for higher education identified in "Backing Australia's Future" and the push to Research Quality Framework and high impact journals (see "RESEARCH QUALITY FRAMEWORK: Assessing the quality and impact of research in Australia" at http://www.dest.gov.au/).
A reminder that there is still ample time to apply for the prestigious ascilite awards presented each year at the annual conference for members' exemplary use of electronic technologies in teaching and learning in tertiary education. The closing date for entries is August 30th 2005 (see the Awards page. The newsletter also contains information about ascilite research grants, as well as the new release of the "Learning Activity Management System" (LAMS) as Open Source Software, which provides educators with tools to design sequences of learning activities, which can then be shared with others.
The ascilite newsletter is produced three times a year and we welcome suggestions for themes from our readers. Please send these to any of the editors. Please also consider submitting a short piece yourself if you think it might be of interest to ascilite members.
Editor for this edition: Joe Luca
Editorial team: Joe Luca, Meg O'Reilly, Linda Pannan, Jeremy Williams.
Web Editor: Allan Christie
Educational Technology and Research: Perspectives for the Future
What's interesting on the ascilite website?
What's interesting elsewhere?
Educational Technology and Research: Perspectives for the FutureMike Keppell
ascilite is internationally known as an innovative and leading edge educational technology society and many of its members are world leaders in the field. The ascilite community is an eclectic community and members hold different epistemological perspectives and different experience levels and familiarity with research in educational technology. In addition, members have different views on what they consider to be 'research'. The ascilite community only sometimes speak about research goals and research methods at the annual conference and discussion occurs implicitly as opposed to explicitly within the context of the annual conference. It is more the exception than the rule that we discuss 'research successes' at the annual Ascilite conference. Tom Reeves has presented at length on these areas over the last five years and his perspective is elegantly portrayed in his paper "Enhancing the worth of instructional technology research through 'design experiments' and other development research strategies". (See http://it.coe.uga.edu/~treeves/) Reeves draws on the work of Stokes (1997) to support his argument, which I further discuss in the sections below.
Reeves (2000) suggested that one of the primary problems that novice researchers have in educational technology research is distinguishing research goals and research methods. He suggests that research goals can be theoretical, empirical, interpretivist, postmodern, development or action goals. He also suggests that "research methods are tools, and tools should only be selected once goals and tasks are clear" (p. 8). The methods include: quantitative, qualitative, critical theory, historical, literature review, mixed-methods, etc. His primary argument is that the field of educational technology needs new forms of research, and advocates 'development research' (van de Akker, 1999), 'design experiments' (Brown, 1992; Collins, 1992), 'formative research' (Newman, 1990) and 'use-inspired research' (Stokes?, 1997). Good examples of this type of research include the work of Ron Oliver and Jan Herrington on authentic learning principles and more recently Chris Brook's work on online communities. Their work has generated principles that can be further applied and expanded by other researchers. This type of research would not be classified as either basic or applied research, but a combination of the two. Stokes (1997) helps to clarify this position by advocating 'use-inspired research' as opposed to basic or pure research.
Stokes (1997) provides an in-depth examination of the goals of research. He suggested that there has been a traditional view of research as basic or applied research. Basic research "seeks to widen the understanding of a phenomena of a scientific field" (p.7) and applied research is "directed toward some individual or group or societal need or use" (p. 8). In addition, because basic and applied research has been portrayed on the following diagram, researchers needed to choose either basic or applied research but not both. Figure 1 demonstrates the basic/applied dichotomy.
The notion that basic research was the principal source of technological innovation has also been dominant (Stokes, 1997). Figure 2 demonstrates this view of research. The diagram suggests that basic research (i.e. understanding) influences applied research (i.e. use) which influences development and then production. Each stage is dependent on the previous stage. This perception has influenced research perceptions including how research funds have been allocated in higher education.
Stokes (1997) addressed this situation by developing a heuristic illustrated as four quadrants.
The top left quadrant is basic research "guided solely by the quest for understanding without thought of practical use" (p.73). Stokes calls this quadrant Niels Bohr's quadrant as he examined a model for atomic structure which was a pure voyage of discovery.
The lower right quadrant includes research guided solely by applied goals without seeking a general understanding of the phenomena. Stokes suggests that this is Edison's quadrant as the inventors in their drive to commercialise electrical lighting did not diverge from their applied goals yet ignored the scientific implications of their work.
The top-right quadrant "includes basic research that seeks to extend the frontiers of understanding but is also inspired by considerations of use" (p. 74). The quadrant labeled use-inspired basic research is also called Pasteur's quadrant as he developed practical outcomes while at the same time developing our understanding of microbiology.
The bottom-left quadrant although empty could be considered to be research neither motivated by understanding or use. Reeves (2000) actually suggests that much of educational technology research is located in this quadrant. Curiosity on the part of the investigator is indicative of this quadrant.
The Stokes heuristic provides a rationale for use-inspired research but it does not necessarily provide guidelines for the research. Reeves (2000) provides guidelines through his development research model which is outlined below.
Reeves (2000) p. 10
What does this model mean to ascilite?
The previous discussion is focused on questioning what type of research is important in the field of educational technology. As a leading edge educational technology organization, ascilite needs to consider the nature of its own research. As members what is important? What types of research goals are important? Use-inspired basic research offers promise as an area, which we should foster within the ascilite community as it attempts to address research goals worth pursuing.
The ascilite executive are currently examining a way forward in relation to developing research as an agenda item for the society. We are currently developing a number of initiatives to foster and enhance research debate and dialogue within the society.
- As a first step we intend to include 'Research' on the AGM agenda as a regular item
- In 2005 a draft research agenda will be distributed, discussed and debated at the AGM
- We intend to convene a sub-committee at the next annual conference in Brisbane focused on enhancing research within ascilite
- As a society we need to develop a 2-3 year research plan (after wide consultation) for members that is focused on enhancing research within ascilite
- Principles of design-based research have been integrated into the selection criteria for the early researcher grant (see announcement this issue)
- In the 2005 ascilite conference, a one-day publications syndicate has been sponsored to develop members new to publishing
- Future conference organizers may also consider inviting keynote, invited speakers and workshop presenters who discuss research and educational technology.
As a professional society that emphasises technology for teaching and learning we need to consider how our developments benefit the user, group or society. We also need to understand how our developments benefit the field of educational technology. A significant benefit of emphasising use-inspired research is that it blends these two goals, providing a promising direction for the society.
Brown, A. L. (1992). Design experiments: Theoretical and methodological challenges in creating complex interventions in classroom settings. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 2(2), 141-178.
Collins, A. (1992). Towards a design science of education. In E. Scanlon && T. O'Shea computers. New directions in educational technology.
Newman, D. (1990). Opportunities for research on the organizational impact of school computers. Educational Researcher, 19(3).
Reeves T. C. (2000). Enhancing the worth of instructional technology research through "design experiments" and other development research strategies. Paper presented on April 27, 2000 at session 41.29. International Perspectives on Instructional Technology Research for the 21st Century a Symposium sponsored by SIG/Instructional Technology at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, LA, USA. http://it.coe.uga.edu/~treeves/
Stokes, D. E. (1997). Pasteur's quadrant: Basic science and technological innovation. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.
van den Akker, J. (1999). Principles and methods of development research. In J. van den Akker, N. Nieveen, R. M. Branch, K. L. Gustafson, && T. Plomp, (Eds.), Design methodology and developmental research in education and training (pp. 1-14). The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
What's interesting on the ascilite website?Call for ascilite Research Applications
Applications are now invited for the ascilite Research Grant round for 2006 from members of the ascilite community. The objectives of the grant scheme is to provide opportunities to new or early researchers, as well as support for small projects that could lead to a larger grant proposal. Grants are for $5000. Download the Guidelines for Submission for more information.
The 22nd Annual ascilite Awards
To enter, simply download the application form using the following links below (which are also provided at the Awards section of the ascilite website):
|General Information (pdf) and (doc)
2005 Application form download (doc)
Administrative fee payment form download (pdf) and (doc)
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What's interesting elsewhere?LAMS released as Open Source Software
On April 13th, Macquarie University hosted the launch of the Learning Activity Management System (LAMS) as Open Source Software. The LAMS software and a range of resources, manuals, etc, are available from http://www.lamsfoundation.org/CD/
LAMS is a Learning Design system which is complementary to Course Management Systems such as WebCT, Blackboard and Moodle. It allows teachers/lecturers to author a sequence of collaborative learning activities, which can be stored and shared with other teachers/lecturers, as well as run with students (and monitored by the teachers). LAMS is being used in all forms of education: K-12 schools, vocational training, higher education, adult/community learning and corporate training. The greatest interest in LAMS to date has been in K-12 schools and universities, followed by vocational training.
Teachers can design and run a "digital lesson plan" in under 10 minutes using LAMS. The lesson plans can also be stored and shared, so that others can use (and adapt) LAMS sequences. Rather than being sold as proprietary software, LAMS has been released as freely available "open source software" for the public good of education by the non-profit LAMS Foundation - see www.lamsfoundation.org (backed by Macquarie University). A separate commercial services company (LAMS International Pty Ltd) offers optional fee-based technical support, training, etc - see http://www.lamsinternational.com
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