With there being such a degree of importance on educators becoming researcher and educators lacking the time to engage appropriately with the research the question could be asked what is the way forward? This essay proposes that educators have two viable means to engage with the research. The first is to crowd source, enabling time and expertise by using mechanisms such as social media, more specifically twitter to draw rich understandings of scholarly research and secondly, conducting small-scale projects themselves through action research.
Discussing what works and doesn’t work was a normal part of a teacher’s everyday life; however, since the rise of social media, educators have also begun to use twitter as a forum. This informal research offers teachers benefits through the sharing resources and discussing ways of thinking and understanding. Examples of this can be seen in the personal interactions on twitter between Mark Weston and classroom teachers (Weston, 2015) and the work of Couros (2015), and Robinson (2012). Social media allows regular classroom teachers to have access to researchers by creating an access point where both can share their experiences, ideas and expertise. This interplay inspires educators to look deeper into the data and evidence to draw richer understanding. An example of this comes from Rebecca Vivian’s (2016) CSER group based out of The University of Adelaide where one of their focuses is to research and interact with educators in formal and informal learning using social media as the medium. Though there is growing research to highlight the benefits of social media in the classroom (Faizi, et.al, 2013) and student engagement with this (Vivian & Barnes, 2010) there is a gap in scholarly research focusing on the benefits of connecting teachers with the researches through social media as this is a new paradigm for education (M. Weston, personal communication 22 March 2016). However, by revisiting the statement from Kaestle, ‘There should be a dynamic, ongoing, mutual exchange of ideas between researchers and the user's’ (1993 p.23), we can see where social media may have its greatest gains for education.
The second viable means to engage with the research is to conduct small-scale action research projects based on theories from larger research programs. The central goal of action research is to create a positive educational change, that impacts significantly on the teachers involved, the students they teach and the tools they use (Sagor, 2000). An example of a small-scale action research project that has been conducted finds roots in larger scale research conducted by Martinez and Stager (2013). According to Martinez and Stager, the Maker Movement, which includes elements of coding and computational thinking, is a global creative and technological revolution. It has vast implications for the world of education and is built upon the foundation of Piaget’s notion of constructionism, the philosophy of experiential learning through building knowledge structures. Through making students are engrossed by the power of learning by doing this student-centered teaching practice both appeals to and engages learners. Martinez and Stager suggest other benefits include inquiry, curiosity and problem solving. Students spontaneously create and critique their diverse design projects, thinking genuinely and critically with others about what they are creating. Students discover that failure is an important part of the prototyping process and is a fundamental step that cannot be missed throughout the learning process. Backward mapping the design thinking process is needed to familiarise students with the phases of ideation, prototyping and critiquing and presents students with authentic voice and choice in their learning (Melles, et, al., 2012, p.165).
Note: This is part three of a four-part series on the importance of research to the practitioner.
Couros, G. (2015). The Innovator’s Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent and Lead a Culture of Creativity. Dave Burgess Consulting Inc, San Diego.
Faizi, R., El Afia, A., & Chiheb, R. (2013). Exploring the Potential Benefits of Using Social Media in Education. iJEP, 3(4), 50-53.
Martinez, S. L., & Stager, G. (2013). Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom. Constructing Modern Knowledge Press.
Melles, G., Howard, Z., & Thompson-Whiteside, S. (2012). Teaching design thinking: Expanding horizons in design education. Procedia: Social and Behavioral Sciences: incorporating the proceedings of the 2nd World Conference on Learning, Teaching and Educational Leadership (WCLTA 2011), Istanbul, Turkey, 28-30 October 2011 / Huseyin Uzunboylu (ed.), vol. 31, pp. 162-166,
Robinson, K. (2012). How technology is transforming education. Retrieved March 22, 2016 from http://blogs.adobe.com/conversations/2012/12/a-conversation-with-sir-ken-robinson-how-is-technology-transforming-education.html
Sagor, R. (2000). Guiding School Improvement with Action Research. Ascd.
Vivian, R. & Barnes, A. (2010). Social networking: from living technology to learning technology? Proceedings ASCILITE Sydney, 2010, pp. 1007-1019. Retrieved March 29, 2016 from http://www.ascilite.org/conferences/sydney10/procs/Vivian-full.pdf
Vivian, R. (2016, February 24). University Staff Directory: The University of Adelaide. Retrieved March 29, 2016 from http://www.adelaide.edu.au/directory/rebecca.vivian
Weston, M. (2015, December 13). Velcro Moments: When Teachers Connect – The Learning Lessons Series. Retrieved March 29, 2016 from https://shiftparadigm2011.wordpress.com/2015/12/13/velcro-moments-when-teachers-connecting-with-teachers/