I’ll be using this space to reflect (and decompress) a bit after a great week of sessions at LRA 2012.
One of the first sessions that I worked on a bit with Greg McVerry and Polly Parker dealt with the data and teacher feedback from two years of New Literacies Institutes (NLI) with LPVEC. The Institutes have teachers and teacher leaders from the State of MA attending sessions, keynotes, and working with others for a week during the summer. We then bring them back several times throughout the year virtually and in person to follow up on the learning. For this research we examine teacher dispositions and feelings toward their instructional use of technology in the classroom. As a pretest/posttest measure they select a photo from a series of 50 photos we’ve preselected and posted in Google+. The teachers are to select a photo, and write up a short blurb in which they explain why they selected that photo.
The PPT for the session is available here. The video screencast of the paper presentation is embedded in below.
The use of images as a means to have teachers identify their thinking and level of comfortability with technology was helpful because if they have a negative viewpoint on technology use, they usually come right out and explain that they “just don’t get it”, or “I already have too much to do”, or “the kids won’t ever get it.” In my opinion, the use of the images “distances” the teacher from the situation a bit…and allows them to speak a little more frankly.
Some of the important elements of the research that we shared in San Diego include a general indication in the responses that technology was this omnipresent “cloud” or “storm” that was headed their way. It was tantamount to a “thing” that was headed to their classroom, and they had no way to avert or divert it. Teachers identified themselves as either having to “prepare” for this eventuality, or their classroom being “overtaken” by technology….depending on their level of tech-savvy. What was disconcerting to me was that there really didn’t seem to be anyone that indicated that they felt empowered, or able to determine the level and affordances of technology in their classroom. It seemed as if it were just something they needed to deal with…as opposed to being able to define, prescribe, and be considerate about the use of educational technologies.
The results also indicated a general belief that the time spent working with teachers at the NLI was a benefit, but only a start. It seemed as if the Institutes were a good first step…but teachers would appreciate a second institute, or follow-up trainings spaced out over time. Teachers indicated a need for not only identifying the themes and categories of sessions and keynotes, but they also wanted to know the skill level necessary to attend and succeed in the sessions. These designations would be less about dissuading teachers from attending a session, but more about them realizing their own ability, and being able to work harder and advance.
Overall, this examination of the NLI model, and the use of visual imagery as a means to help assess teacher dispositions was helpful in viewing different ways to ensure the success of every participant. It is also helpful to examine individual teacher dispositions and how they are affected by workshops such as this….while still working with a large group of adults. We would like to re-examine the data in the future looking using a visual analysis and some simple semiotic analytic techniques to look at the images that people selected…as well as the text they left.