LTEC 6510 – Week 7 Blog Reflection – Fixed designs and quantitative methods part 3

How do you feel about quantitative analysis? Does it speak to you and make intuitive sense? Is there something that concerns you about the outcomes? What do you like about them, if anything? Are you a “math person?”

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References

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LTEC 6510 – Week 5 Blog Reflection – Fixed designs and quantitative methods part 1

What most interests you about quantitative/fixed research designs? Is this a form of research you believe leads to “truth” and is something you are drawn to? What concerns do you have about the use of quantitative research methods?

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In a few short weeks my interest in research mobile learning has grown (or narrowed down) to ‘Using math apps at night to reduce math-practice gap in elementary schools.’ I fully expect this will change a few more times before all is said and done.  I still believe I prefer quantitative research methods, I am still more interested in applied research, and I still want to focus on theoretical research.  In the course of one recent assignment, the practice IRB forms, I have come to the realization that I need more articles.  If I don’t want to enter elementary school classrooms and arm students with individual tablets for math practice apps then I need to find data that already exists.  The only challenge I foresee is the time it will take to locate the appropriate articles.  But reading/reviewing a sufficient number of articles to gather the data feels less quantitative.  

I’m still drawn to quantitative research.  I don’t believe this form of research leads to ‘truth’ but it does ‘paint an interesting picture.’ In an online article highlighting a book on qualitative research design, the author points out ten distinctive qualities of qualitative research, the first of which is the “absence” of truth.  Instead qualitative researchers talk about the “plausibility” of their research findings. The context of the findings is important. “…the outcomes in qualitative research hinge greatly on the contexts from which we obtain this data (Roller & Lavrakas, 2015).  But wouldn’t the same be true for quantitative research?   

In an article from 30 years ago quantitative research is criticized for the lack of similarity between its measures and reality, and its failure to produce truths useful to educational practice” (Krenz and Sax, 1986).  The phrase ‘numbers don’t lie’ comes to mind and I feel it is comically a lie in itself.  Numbers can be manipulated.  Statistics can be flawed.  But the information gained by quantitative research can point to a new direction for research to investigate or showcase a particular anomaly that wasn’t expected.  I still want to look at the metrics because perhaps I’ll identify a trend. 

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References 

Roller, M. R. & Lavrakas, P. J., (2015). Applied Qualitative Research Design: A Total Quality Framework Approach (New York: Guilford Press) 

Krenz, C. & Sax, G. (1986). What Quantitative Research Is and Why It Doesn’t Work
American Behavioral Scientist, 30(1), 58-69  

 

LTEC 6510 – Week 4 Blog Reflection – Ethical Issues

What most concerns you ethically about learning technologies research? What concerns do you have about the approval process?

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In the article, Ethical Issues Experienced by Learning Technology Practitioners in Design and Training Situations the authors Lin and Kolb identify the top three concerns reported were copyright, learner privacy, and accessibility (Lin, Kolb, 2006). I agree with these concerns, but the first issue I thought of when reading the question was copyright.

While I was working on my master’s degree, several courses taught about ethics and/or copyright issues. I understand why this is an important topic. The idea that stuck with me the most is Creative Commons. This global community helps people share their knowledge to promote collaboration and education. I marked several of my assignments that I placed online with the Creative Commons logo to help me protect my material. However, I never felt that my material was safe from plagiarism. Even if I paid for true copyrights, if my material is on the web, I feel anyone interested in it who has loose ethics will take and use it without giving me credit. For educational material I have created, I am not as concerned, yet. For my more artistic creations (photos, paintings, other visual media.), I am still hesitant to place them on the internet.

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References

Lin, H., & Kolb, J. A. (2006). Ethical issues experienced by learning technology practitioners in design and training situations. Retrieved from https://libproxy.library.unt.edu/login?url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/62099488?accountid=7113

LTEC 6510 – Week 3 Blog Reflection – Common research paradigms, designs and social research perspectives

Are you more focused on practical or theoretical research questions at this stage of your career? Explain what draws you more to one or another.

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Practical Research: The practical approach consists of the empirical study of the topic under research and chiefly consists of hands on approach. This involves first hand research in the form of questionnaires, surveys, interviews, observations and discussion groups. (Latimer, 2014)

Theoretical Research: A non-empirical approach to research, this usually involves perusal of mostly published works like researching through archives of public libraries, court rooms and published academic journals. (Latimer, 2014)

Practical research asks, “How do I tie my shoes?” Theoretical research asks, “What is the meaning of life?”

Of the two, I want to focus more on theoretical research questions. I currently have greater access to read material from other researchers than to conduct research of my own. After I am more prepared to conduct practical research, however, I feel I will still prefer exploring theoretical questions because I am not interested in questionnaires, surveys, interviews, observations or discussion groups.

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References

Chelsea Latimer. (May 2, 2014). The Purpose of Research. Udemy blog. Retrieved from https://blog.udemy.com/purpose-of-research/

LTEC 6510 – Week 2 Blog Reflection – Purposes of research in education and learning technologies

What research purposes generally attract you most? What kinds of questions are you most interested in exploring with your future learning technologies research?

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First, a quick recap of the types of research. I found a simple description online at explorable.com that has the following. “The purpose of research can be a complicated issue and varies across different scientific fields and disciplines. At the most basic level, science can be split, loosely, into two types, ‘pure research’ and ‘applied research’. Both of these types follow the same structures and protocols for propagating and testing hypotheses and predictions, but vary slightly in their ultimate purpose. … Pure scientific research is about finding an explanation to an observed situation or occurrence. … Applied scientific research is about finding an answer to a specific problem.” (Shuttleworth, 2008)

I believe I am more interested in conducting applied research. The question I hope to answer with my future learning technologies research is close to “Can math proficiency in elementary students improve if the students work with a mobile math app before going to sleep for the night?” I may modify this question slightly as I get further into my research or as I learn more about what other researchers have done on this topic.

Most people agree that practice improves performance and I understand that the last thing humans think about at night before falling asleep is processed by their brain over and over again while sleeping. I want to research a combination of these two ideas to find math learning in elementary students improves when the students engage in practice before falling asleep. I would like my research to encourage elementary school math teachers to assign mobile math app homework to students as the last task of the day, and subsequently educate parents about the importance of this last learning task before falling asleep.

Thus far, I pulled five articles in the topic of math apps. It appears it will be easy to gather much information on the subject. I know many math apps exist already and teachers who already use them probably have their favorites. Ultimately, I’d like to work with a math app that gives ten random questions in one of 8 categories and returns to the student and to the teacher the final score of that set of questions. The categories would be

Addition problems with single-digit numbers (3 + 2 = ?)

Subtraction problems with single-digit numbers (4 – 2 = ?)

Multiplication problems with single-digit numbers (4 x 3 = ?)

Division problems with single-digit numbers (4 / 2 = ?)

Addition problems with double-digit numbers (34 + 12 = ?)

Subtraction problems with double-digit numbers (14 – 32 = ?)

Multiplication problems with double-digit numbers (24 x 13 = ?)

Division problems with double-digit numbers (24 / 12 = ?)

The teacher would assign the student to take the test at least once right before going to sleep and specify which test the student should attempt based on the topic being taught in class. This last task assignment would be in addition to any physical homework assignments the teacher assigns. The student would be welcome to test as often as they would like, or repeat the test several times. Each time the test is finished the teacher would receive the students name, the final score, and the date/time the test was taken. I would hope that monitoring this data would indicate that the students that perform the last task assignment show an improvement in math proficiency.

While thinking about conducting applied research and searching online about the challenges I might face, I found that applied research can have direct implication for what should be done in practice. McCall and Groark state in a chapter of X “Classic intervention demonstration project is a good example in which an intervention is tried out under relatively controlled conditions to determine if it produces a specific desirable outcome.” (McCall and Groark, 2010) Based on this description, it sounds like applied research aligns very well with what I’m trying to accomplish with my future learning technologies research project.

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References

Martyn Shuttleworth. (Aug 2, 2008). Purpose of Research. Explorable. Retrieved from https://explorable.com/purpose-of-reasearch

McCall, R.B, and Groark, C. J. (2010). Challenges and Issues in Designing Applied Research. University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development Retrieved from https://www.ocd.pitt.edu/Files/Publications/Challenges%20and%20Issues%20in%20Designing%20Applied%20Research.pdf

LTEC 6510 – Week 1 Blog Reflection – What is research?

What kinds of research are you most interested in doing? What topics in learning technologies are most interesting to you today? Was there anything you learned in class that was new or surprising about educational research?

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As I start my first semester in the Learning Technologies PhD program, I think I am most interested in researching mobile learning.  It is possible I tend to prefer quantitative research because I am more comfortable with tangible measurements than abstract ideas.  I feel I will need to reacquaint myself with the types of research because there is probably a method that will support my topic better. But, what is my topic? That is a good question. Unfortunately, not one I know how to answer yet.

Past topics in mobile learning appear to have focused on the benefits or hindrances of PCs in schools, using mobile devices to teach social interaction, or gaming and gamification.  I may be interested in how mobile learning can supplement and enhance classroom learning in elementary schools, but I think I would rather code learning games. How can I get paid to do that?  More accurately, how can I change this idea into a working research project that I can remain interested in throughout the entirety of my PhD program? What’s new out there in mobile learning? What’s hot now in instructional technology that will stay hot for years to come? I don’t want to get burned out on my chosen topic but I also don’t want to bite off more than I can chew. To help draw some inspiration I searched topic choices online. I found the 13th International Conference on Mobile Learning 2017 called for papers in the following topics:

“– Learning analytics and mobile learning – Cloud computing and mobile learning – Pedagogical approaches, models and theories for mLearning – mLearning in and across formal and informal settings – Strategies and challenges for integrating mLearning in broader educational scenarios – User Studies in mLearning – Learner mobility and transitions afforded by mlearning – Socio-cultural context and implications of mLearning – Mobile social media and user generated content – Enabling mLearning technologies, applications and uses – Evaluation and assessment of mLearning – Research methods, ethics and implementation of mLearning – Innovative mLearning approaches – Tools, technologies and platforms for mLearning – mlearning: where to next and how?” (http://mlearning-conf.org/call-for-papers/)

This list doesn’t sound very exciting to me and doesn’t help me decide on a topic, so I tried a different angle. The ISTE website lists ‘The 10 Hottest Topics in Ed Tech’ (https://www.iste.org/explore/articleDetail?articleid=674). The first topic listed, coding and robotics, greatly interests me. But, what can I do with this? Can I find research to support robotics? Will I be able to create a dissertation with this topic? Is there any room left in this field for new research right now? I just don’t know what I don’t know. The ISTE website also lists ‘Google Apps for Education’ as a hot topic. This sounds like something I could focus on. I’ve often enjoyed the thought of working for Google. Since my newest career goal is to become a university professor then maybe I can moonlight for Google on the side. What can I actually research about Google Apps for Education? Hopefully soon I’ll find the right focus within this topic for me, then I can decide which kind of research will work best.

On a side note, it took me a while to find what ISTE stands for. It’s International Society for Technology in Education. That makes sense, but it just makes me feel inadequate that I didn’t already know that. Again, I don’t know what I don’t know.

After attending my first class meeting for this course, I did not find any content about educational research that surprised me. I did feel more at ease, however, about the difficulty of the course, but more stressed about one particular activity I will need to participant in order to complete this program with a standing that is comparable or ahead of my peers. That activity is reading. I do not have a great love of reading. Very rarely do I find anything I want to read leisurely. Reading for research sounds even less entertaining to me. I know it is necessary. But learning that I need to constantly read new material on my chosen dissertation/research topic in order to remain competitive with other PhD students in this market makes me want to roll my eyes. I’m already contemplating how poorly I might be effected if I don’t read all the time. Could it really be detrimental to my future career? I know I need to change my attitude on this. I should focus this anti-reading energy on finding more creative and efficient ways to absorb the new information I need. Instead of figuring out how to avoid reading, I need to try to discover how to enjoy it. This idea, however, is a topic for a future blog.

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References

“Call for Papers.” ML 2017, mlearning-conf.org/call-for-papers/. Date accessed September 6, 2017.

“The 10 hottest topics in ed tech.” ISTE Blog, iste.org/explore/articleDetail?articleid=674. Date accessed September 6, 2017.

Same Blog, New Program

My blog entries up to now were assignments in courses I was taking while obtaining my Master’s Degree in Learning Technologies at the University of North Texas.

I graduated with my masters in May of 2016. In August of 2017 I was accepted into the Learning Technologies PhD program at the University of North Texas.

The next several years of blog posts will be for assignments in courses I am taking while obtaining my PhD.

Currently, the excitement and anxiety are both real and equally weighted.  Wish me luck.

 

CECS 5510 – Week 13 Activity 5

There is not much time left in the session to complete your project, so it is a good time to think about what needs to be done. What is left to do? What challenges have you faced? Will you be able to meet your timeline for completion? Why or why not? Will you be able to implement? Evaluate?

I was not able to stay on track to finish my course development on time.  I unfortunately let life get in the way and accidently told myself I would be able to catch up quickly.  Now I’m struggling to complete weekly assignments.

For the most part, the technology hasn’t been challenging. I did spend some time trying to figure out how to place words to the right of my images.  I finally got it by creating tables in my modules.  The only people challenge I experienced was myself.  As I mentioned, I allowed myself to get behind.  I’m overcoming this difficulty by staying after work every night for a few hours to work on my schoolwork without interruptions.  My family is not pleased with me not being home, but I recognize that I do not work on schoolwork very well – I’m not focused and I don’t produce quality work.  Staying at work is helping me get more work done.

Through this process I have learned that completing a major project within a professional deadline takes dedication.  I still believe that I would be able to accomplish it in time if it were my job and I was being paid to do it.  (Next time?  Well, I hope there isn’t a next time because I still do not enjoy instructional design.  Sorry Instructors, I prefer to do web design.)

My strengths as a designer are my attention to detail and ability to make my projects aesthetically pleasing.  I feel I produced a quality course in Canvas.  If I wanted to take the time, I would want to improve some of the words I chose to introduce topics and assignments so the student is more relaxed and is comforted by knowing there is a real person on the other side of the computer screen.

CECS 5510 – Week 11 Activity 4

By the end of this week, your full initial development must be completed. Were you able to finish according to your timeline? Why or why not?

What technology challenges have you faced? What “people” challenges have you faced? How have you sought to overcome these difficulties? What have you learned about completing a major project within a professional deadline? What will you do differently next time?

What were your strengths as a designer?
What do you need to improve?

Last week I was feeling behind schedule. This week I AM behind schedule. In spite of adding content to many of my placeholders from last week, I didn’t finish all of my course design. Some of my inability to finish comes from convincing myself that sleep was more important – which is just another way of saying I was able to find other activities more interesting than doing course design. This is too bad, because it can drastically affect my grade. But, I am aware it is difficult for me to stay on track on any assignment I am not truly interested in. Although in the past I seem to take projects more seriously when it’s getting closer to the deadline, I have been proven wrong this time.

I didn’t face any technology or people challenges while creating this course. But I have re-learned that when the assigned project isn’t my preference I need to work harder at staying focused on the project and monitoring my progress within the timeline given.

I think my strengths as a designer are being able to envision the whole picture and an attention to detail. I think my course design looks professional and would be easy for most people, undergraduate level and above, to understand. Obviously, I need to improve on following my deadlines and minimizing my distractions. I could also benefit from ignoring the excuses my inner child comes up with.

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