Friday, February 23, 2007

Technology in the "Classroom" - Traditional, or an Underground Mine

After much discussion and many hours spent with subject matter experts (SME's), the MSHA project has changed directions, and myself and my Immersion teammates are in the process of evaluating, revising, and refining the content and other aspects of the training system we created and continue to develop. By spring break, we expect to have the training system ready for evaluation and validation by SME's. Shortly after spring break, we will have a "tweak week" (term coined by me!) to focus on assessing each others' guided scenarios as well as adding touches to polish the system 'til it sparkles.

I'd like to say a little bit about Education Research, the course otherwise known as EDIT 590. As an aspiring instructional designer for a college or university, I didn't stop and think that I would undertake a course quite like this. Its focus is on developing skills, insights, and understanding to perform research, emphasizing interpreting and applying research results. Most of the course readings pertain to topics such as the evaluation of teachers' incorporation of technology in K-12 settings; stakeholders' perspectives on gathering and using evaluative information about educational technology; and how to measure the difference (if there is one) that technology is making in K-12 curricula. Many of these are very difficult to measure quantitatively (i.e. using "hard" data) due to variations between schools, classrooms, resources, finances, and even the abilities of individual students. Rather, many more education researchers and policy makers are taking a qualitative approach to research, using "anecdotal" data, which are not result of systematic study -- using stories, observations, and informal interviews as a platform on which to gather evidence and draw conclusions.

One of my tasks in this course this semester is to critique several qualitative and quantitative education research papers. As I got more involved in the first assignment of the quantatitive research assessment, I really began to enjoy it and got a sense of the various research methods in use today (hey, the study I chose was 118 pages!). I must say that I'm glad I'm stepping out of my comfort zone and exploring topics I previously wouldn't have thought were important to my development as an instructional designer. Even though I may never work in it, I finally feel as though I have a good grasp on different educational technology issues facing today's K-12 world.

In other news, I have been selected as a member of a search committee at GMU to select a new Director of Learning Support Services, Instructional Technology Unit. Among many aspects of the position, the DLSS:
  • Oversees student support, faculty development support, and support for the University’s e-learning infrastructure
  • Leads, oversees and sets the vision for the Instructional Resource Center (IRC), the Student Technology Assistance and Resource (STAR) Center, and the Training in Office and Productivity Skills (TOPS) program
  • Coordinates teaching and learning with technology (TLT) activities related to GMU’s new Center for Digital Fluency and the nationally-recognized Technology across the Curriculum (TAC) program
  • Collaborates with other DoIT Directors (Classroom Technologies, Educational Media Services), as well as various technology, support and academic units of the university to ensure coordinated support for campus-wide learning technology efforts and initiatives
I'm extremely excited about this chance to meet and work directly with various GMU professors, the associate dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences, and the Executive Director of the Division of Instructional Technology, among others. Part of my responsibilities will include reviewing applications, selecting candidates for interviews, participating in the interviews and actively sharing my thoughts with the rest of the search committee. It will give me the opportunity to be on the selecting (rather than select-"ee" end), give me lots of insight into what goes on behind the scenes during a selection process, and allow me to meet and interact with various candidates who have received the higher education that I aspire to achieve someday and have held positions that I am highly interested in learning about. I'm looking forward to playing such a big part in selecting someone who is in the spotlight of IT at GMU.

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