Professional Development Article

Connecting Instructional Technology Professional Development to Teacher and Student Outcomes

Martin, W., Strother, S., Beglau, M., Bates, L., Reitzes, T., & Culp, K. M. (2010). Connecting instructional technology professional development to teacher and student outcomes. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 43(1), 53-74.

This article is about a program evaluation study, and not an academic research study. The Educational Development Center, Inc was contracted by the University of Missouri to conduct an external evaluation of a professional development program called eMints.

The focus of the study is on eMints (enhancing Missouri’s Instructional Networked Teaching Strategies.) eMints is a professional development program that was created by the UM (University of Missouri) to help “help educators, administrators, and technology specialists understand how to integrate technology into an instructional approach that employs inquiry based learning, alternative assessment, collaboration, and community building among teachers and students.” (p. 55)

eMints was developed using professional development features such as

  • a reform approach (being mentored or coached, participation in a teacher network, working in internships or immersion activities )
  • being sponsored by a university (resources from UM)
  • new technologies for teaching and learning (The program teaches how the technologies they are taught can support instruction.)
  • student achievement (lesson plans developed by participants must adhere to state standards and align closely with ITSE’s National Educational Technology Standards for Students)
  • active learning (Participants discuss technology implementation ideas, get hands-on practice of software and participate in peer reviews.)
  • integration between the program and teacher’s knowledge and beliefs (Teachers volunteer and select a program that aligns with their beliefs. They also participate with at least one other teacher from their school.)
  • sufficient duration (Depending on the program the participants have a 90 hour or 250 hour contact with an instructional specialists.)
  • collective participation in the department of the participants (Participants are from the same school, grade, and department.)

The purpose of this research was to study the impact of the eMints professional development program on student outcomes. The majority of the PD sessions are designed to link technology and new pedagogy directly to classroom applications. To accomplish this, time is given to participants to create and prepare lesson plans for classroom use.

To collect teacher and student outcomes, lesson plans were evaluated and student samples were submitted. The study found that the amount of time participants spent with the instructional specialists was directly related to the quality of the lesson plans. Also the study found that lesson plan quality was associated with better student achievement. And even though some studies show no that technologies do not necessarily improve learning, this study showed that lesson plans including technology had the most improvement in student achievement.

Some of the limitations of the study was that there wasn’t enough funding to observe the participants in classroom instruction, small sample size, and amount of data collected. However “despite those limitations” the study provided “evidence instructional technology professional development an have a positive impact on teachers and students.” (p.71).

Basically to have an impact on students, professional development needs to have an impact on teachers. But to do that takes a considerable amount of time, coaching, and a connection to application and practice of the materials, all aligned with the teacher’s belief system.

Beyond the date of the requirements on this paper was an article dated in 2008. These teachers did not have this much help and support. But the bottom line is in both cases teachers who spent the effort trying to improve their classes did.

Replying Individually to Students Using the One-Minute-Paper

Initiating Student-Teacher Contact Via Personalized Responses to One-Minute Papers

Although the author did not design the concept of one-minute-papers, Gale Lucas uses the one-minute-paper to personalize the relationship with her students as well as to discover what the students bring away from her classes. This is how the one minute paper works. After a class or lecture, students take a couple of minutes to answer questions from the professor such as, “What did your learn?” and “What remains unanswered?” While some professors only comment on answers and answer questions to the class as a whole, Lucas proposes in this article to e-mail each student individually and answer or comment on the what the student had to say.

By e-mailing the students individually, Lucas found that one-minute-papers were helpful to initiate contact with her students. She begins her e-mail by explaining that she wants to personally respond and then does so. Many students like getting responses and feel that Lucas cares about their “own personal learning and greatly appreciate such concern.” (p.40). This direct contact with her students additionally benefits students who speak up less in class.

Students reported that getting these responses from their professor helped their learning. It also helps the teacher monitor what they have taught to see if it is effective.

Lucas, G. M. (2010). Initiating student-teacher contact via personalized responses to one-minute papers College Teaching, 58(2), 39-42. doi:10.1080/87567550903245631

Study of Student-Generated Podcasts

The Educational Value of Student Generated Podcasts

Nie, M., Cashmore, A., & Cane, C. (2008) The educational value of student generated podcasts. Paper, ALT-C 2008 Research Proceedings pp. 15-26.

This article reports on a study of using student-created podcasts developed by a group of medical students. The study showed that “podcasting can empower learners and help them become more active and independent learners, and how student-developed podcasts can promote engagement and motivation for learning, improve cognitive learning and develop transferable team-working skills among student producers.” (p.15)

Student-generated podcasts help students learn through reflection and analyzing ideas and expressing these ideas in a professional oral presentation. If worked in teams, podcasting offers the potential for collaborative learning, and shared ownership of ideas and reflection.

Students in this study found that student-generated podcasts as a means to disseminate and generate knowledge. Podcasts enhanced their understanding of the topic. Because the students needed to research their topic in order to produce the podcast, their knowledge was expanded on the chosen topic and new information linked to their previous knowledge. As the podcast would be published, students felt pushed to do more research, especially current research. The research required them to link more of their knowledge and to disseminate the information so that non specialists would understand the content. Students also found podcast creation, motivating, interesting, and were appreciative of learning a new technical skill.

In addition, the learners who listened to the podcasts, were interested in the podcasts generated by their peers, found the podcasts engaging and motivating, and expressed interest in listening to peer instruction for more of their coursework.

A Review of Research on Podcasting in the Classroom

Use of Audio Podcast in K-12 and Higher Education: A Review of Research Topics and Methodologies

Hew, K.F. (2009) Use of audio podcast in K-12 and higher education: A review of research topics and methodologies. Educational Technology Research and Development. 333–357 doi: 10.1007/s11423-008-9108-3

Article reviews other articles on the use of audio podcasts as it relates to student usage, outcome of learning, and institutional aspects. The article found that most of the use of podcasts were by instructors to distribute lectures or supplemental material to lectures.

In the classroom, the podcast has four functions

  1. duplicate the lecture
  2. add relevant information to what was covered in class
  3. become a precursor to class, providing new material before the lecture, so it can help students prepare for class
  4. represent student learning through student-generated podcasts

We listen by instinct and audio can help with cognition. Podcasts can be listened to at any time anywhere and for short clips at a time. The theory is that podcasts can be listened to to and students will gain bits of information at a time. However, research shows that most students listen to podcasts on their computer rather on mp3 players and that learners are usually focused on the podcast and are not multitasking while they are listening to classroom podcasts.

Students reported that podcasts do improve learning, allowing learners to review information they missed or did not understand. However, reports which did not use the interview as a means of finding data, found a podcast which is not student generated, improves the student’s satisfaction, but does not improve their learning.

Part of the reason for the popularity of podcasts lectures is that students may listen to the podcast when it is convenient to them.

Podcasts: Students Interview Experts

Interviewing the Experts: Student Produced Podcast

Armstrong, G.R., Tucker, J.M., & Massad, V.J. (2009). Interviewing the experts: student produced podcast. Journal of Information Technology Education: Innovations in Practice, 8.

This paper described a podcast project that required students to work in teams and interview “experts.” Students analyze information and communicate ideas using technology to showcase their work. Working as a group, students, select and research a topic, identify the objectives and brainstorm ideas that support the topic, organize the ideas using concept mapping, set up an interview, prepare a script, and produce the podcast without instructor involvement.

When a group is producing the podcast, they become digital storytellers as they work on literacy and communication skills, planning, organization, critical thinking, and teamwork.

Because knowledge is more important than the technology (the actual podcast), it is the planning stage that is most important because that is where the students use their critical thinking and analytical skills and where they are working as a team.

The learning objectives

  • integrate communication and knowledge
  • use the technology to effectively relay the message
  • critically analyze information and produce relevant content
  • demonstrate literacy skills in the script and research
  • learn the mechanics of technology without help from instructor
  • use creativity

The students found the project to be productive and helped them learn.

 

 

Student-Created Podcasting

Second Year Students’ Experiences as Podcasters of Content for First Year Undergraduates

Lee, M. J.W., Chan, A., & McLoughlin, C. (2008). Students as Producers: Second Year Students’ Experiences as Podcasters of Content for First Year Undergraduates. 7th International Conference on Information Technology Based Higher Education and Training.

At Charles Sturt University in Australia, Lee, Chan, and McLoughlin conducted a study where they used second year students to produce podcasts to “teach” first year students. In this particular study, the podcasts were not a reiteration of the lecture but a supplement to the lecture.

By having students from earlier classes teach the new students, the earlier students learn by teaching. Peer tutoring requires students to revisit and use cognitive skills to clarify and explain prior knowledge. Although the mentors are passing their learning on to new students, the outcome is that it is the student-producers gain the most from the experience.

in the design and development of instructional materials, it is the designers who learn the most, since the process of articulating their domain knowledge compels them to reflect on their knowledge in a new and meaningful way.

By producing podcasts, students increase their meta-cognitive skills as well as their cognitive skills. The process of creating podcasts affords the students the ability to revisit the material, reorganize what they have learned, to process the information in a new and meaningful way.

Students volunteers were those who had already successfully completed the class the prior year and were interested in “reinforcing and extending their learning.” The volunteers met and discussed topics, wrote their own scripts, cast roles for the presenters, learned the technology, practiced the script and revised as necessary. They worked with the strengths and weaknesses of the team members.

The results showed that the students found the experience a positive one with the student-producers expressing that the task increased their learning while providing them technical skills.