Research Focus #3 November

Photo Credit: DennisCallahan via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: DennisCallahan via Compfight cc

A shared post by Jarod Fong and Heidi James

For the November update, Jarod and Heidi shared a GoogleDoc to co-craft this post. We have been meeting digitally to share our ideas and have shared Documents and Folders to hold our thoughts and our research and would like to use this post as an opportunity to share our process with our #tiegrad friends.

Our initial steps in this BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) journey began last year when we realized that we were at opposite ends of the BYOD spectrum: Jarod was 3 years into using BYOD and experiencing a plateau and Heidi was hoping to launch it in her school. We connected and shared ideas. We recognized the need for ongoing conversations around the use of personal devices in an educational classroom. We would like to create a resource of some kind to transform how BYOD is being used by our students.

Our initial view was very expansive: we were looking at creating a curriculum for Middle School Digital Literacy or Citizenship with a focus on the implementation of BYOD.

We met recently to refine our work. Some of our new thoughts include creating a scope and sequence for Middle School Teachers and Learners. We like the idea of using the Core Competencies language from the new BC Curriculum Draft. Our project will include a resource section for teachers. Our original steps included locating resources that we have personally used for teaching digital literacy skills in our own classrooms and we planned to share out those lessons with the resources attached. Instead, we believe that a more flexible, personalized approach may be to curate dynamic and effective resources and tag them to specific competencies. This will encourage teachers to use the resources in innovative ways, and hopefully share their ideas!

What the Resource Needs to Include:

  • must be adaptable, flexible and a living document – something that can grow and change over time: as technology changes, as opportunities arise
  • a framework for supporting digital literacies province-wide
  • language around creating a globally connected, digitally literate classroom culture

Jarod’s Next Steps:

  • searching for research around digital citizenship
  • finding resources and examples of digital citizenship appropriate for Middle School grades
  • exploring citizenship vs. digital citizenship with regards to the curricular competencies
  • curating resources for digital citizenship
  • exploring different resources and vehicles for that will evolve with time in an area that changes rapidly

Heidi’s Next Steps:

  • finding research around BYOD in Middle School Classrooms
  • finding examples of how BYOD is being used in classrooms
  • curating resources for digital literacies
  • learning more about content creation versus content consumption and how to create that climate in a classroom setting

One of many challenges that we are looking at is how to create a resource that will continue to evolve with not only technology, but the social changes that are created as new platforms for connecting with people come and go. Technology and social media have become a vehicle for global awareness and change. How do we create a resource that will continue to evolve and stay current as an unknown future evolves; a resource that will help to integrate BYOD and digital citizenship effectively for our students today and in the future when new technology and new forms of media have emerged? With a focus on new curricular competencies, our project will be about people as much as it is about technology as a tool and social media as a platform.


Book Club #tiebc Chapter 2

Photo credit: Photo Credit: deeplifequotes via Compfight cc

Photo credit: Photo Credit: deeplifequotes via Compfight cc

I am really enjoying Clive Thompson’s book Smarter Than You Think. This read is serving a huge purpose in my Master’s journey. As part of this learning, I am reading many articles and sorting through conflicting research, and who knew that research papers might be a little on the dry side!?! Smarter Than You Think provides the story of the research, it draws me in to the lives of REAL people using technology in innovative ways and provides me with ideas and understandings that I am struggling to unearth in the data provided by articles. Don’t misunderstand me; this book is brimming with clearly referenced facts and data! However, the data is artfully woven into story, it emerges as a relevant, supporting detail, but the characters and their actions are the main players holding my interest and engaging me with information in a lively way.

I’ve also enjoyed our #tiebc book club meetings on alternating Wednesday evenings. Thank you to everyone involved – your stories and connections help me to expand my thinking and learn in novel ways.

Chapter 2: We, The Memorious

This chapter describes the phenomena of “lifelogging” – capturing every moment of life digitally, through cameras, voice recorders, etc. I connected with the author’s description of the “quintessential modern dilemma” of experiencing a moment in time versus capturing that moment digitally. All too often I can recall being filled with regret that I didn’t record a moment in time, or take more pictures of a person or a beloved pet. But, I also wonder if pausing to take out a recording device to capture that moment; to separate myself from the moment by allowing technology to be the medium through which I experienced that moment would diminish the magic, the power, or the emotion of that particular time? I am lucky to have had so many moments that I value, and I worry about losing these memories over time. And we know that humans lose those fine details, or we re-write our memories unintentionally.

The author explains that memory is an active entity – it requires work. Our new approach to memory is far more passive, we record things quickly, jot digital notes, voice memo our grocery lists, and take pictures everywhere. We also share these memories expansively, assuring ourselves that everyone will want to remember this amazing meal that we enjoyed at a particular restaurant!

How do we catalogue and sort these memories? If we begin archiving everything (text messages, pictures, emails, contact information, medical histories, facts about everyone in our lives and the important dates around them, our conversations, the minutiae of each day), how do we store and retrieve this information? Or do we even try? And, what about the things that we want to forget? I am grateful that my awkward adolescence was captured primarily by photos and faulty human memory, as our current youth will grow up in a time where their most embarrassing moments will be Google-able. My peers will (hopefully) forget that time that I…, but my students may end up with their mistakes on an endless loop on Vine.

Memories are precious to each person, and sharing these memories is how we tell the stories of our lives. A more common occurrence now is our experiences showing up in another person’s digital feed. We appear in the background of others’ stories. By venturing out in public, we seem to enter into an understanding that our movements are for public consumption. Cameras are everywhere!

I don’t think that there is an easy answer to our new reality of memory in a digital age. There are clearly pros and cons; it depends on your situation, your needs at the time and the content being curated. The final quote from this chapter resonated with me: “Our ancestors learned how to remember; we’ll learn how to forget.”



Research Focus #2

Our Masters cohort #tiegrad has been asked to nail down a research focus for our Research project. This has been keeping me up at night, working in circles! I have a rough idea of WHAT I want to research, and why, but determining the actual problem has been a bit of an existential crisis. Does my research interest area actually have a problem to solve, or is it only a perceived problem by me?

In my desperation to move forward (this blog post was due in October), I turned to my recent readings. Our Creswell text has been described as “Masters Writing for Dummies”, and I needed specific help, so I re-read the section about “Research Problems”. Success and joy ensued. I don’t have a specific problem statement yet, but I have a process. As I tell my students, the process is often more valuable than the product. (Yes, I know that I must eventually find a product, but patience is a virtue… I’m just getting started here!!!)

Creswell suggests a fairly simple strategy for identifying your research problem. He clarifies that a research problem can be an educational issue, controversy, or concern that affects teachers, administration, or policy makers. He provides four questions to answer to help researchers identify their focus.

I began by drafting a quick web about my general thoughts about my overarching topic: BYOD – Bring Your Own Device. I included every type of issue or problem that I could identify as a possible problem, controversy, or issue for teachers, administration or policy-makers. I began with things that were obvious to me as I explored my own experiences launching BYOD in my own classroom last year, and then branched out in more general terms. I still kept a focus on the initial steps of BYOD: looking at the first users of BYOD in a middle school, or the beginning steps of launching BYOD.

After broadly drafting possible “problems”, I turned to Creswell’s four questions to answer for finding a research problem. Please understand that this is a think-on-paper, and does not contain “research-friendly” language. I did not censor my thinking, and some ideas are too vague, too specific, biased, or unclear. I look forward to your comments and suggestions in supporting me to find my way through this process.

1. What is the specific problem/issue/controversy that I need to address?

  • a need for clear strategies or support for teachers who are implementing BYOD in their classrooms
  • a need for guidance in the first steps in launching BYOD
  • a need for mentoring or the sharing of stories from schools who have successfully created a culture of student use of personal devices for learning
  • a lack of consistency in how technology is used by students for learning
  • teacher/parent/administrator fear around student use of personal devices in classroom settings
  • gaps in communication between parents/teachers/administration/IT departments around the use of personal technology in schools
  • determining the rationale for student use of devices for learning
  • a need to move from AUP (Acceptable Use Policies) and BYOD policies to a single, clear, culturally embedded plan for the use of technology as a learning tool (like paper and pens)

2. Why is this problem important?

  • curating stories or resources to support the successful launch of BYOD will provide guidance, support, clarity and suggestions for classrooms/schools/districts who are taking initial steps in BYOD
  • alleviating fear may support teachers in trialling BYOD in their practice
  • alleviating fear may allow administration to establish a protocol for supporting students in using their own devices
  • wifi has become a reality in our schools, creating a culture of digitally literate citizens should be a priority
  • the devices are already travelling with the students to class, leveraging them for learning seems like a natural progression
  • there is pressure from Middle Grades students to allow the use of their own devices
  • we need to connect people with the wealth of resources for BYOD learning environments
  • creating a digitally engaged culture can be an overwhelming task

3. How will my study add to what we already know about this problem?

  • examining the shared characteristics of schools who have successfully launched BYOD, finding and sharing the common elements
  • collecting resources for initial steps in BYOD
  • finding common language, lessons, and steps for welcoming student device use
  • analyzing the characteristics of successful school cultures actively using  BYOD
  • determine examples of good pedagogy involving personal device
  • examples of frameworks for launching and continuing to support student use of devices
  • providing other groups with a voice on this topic: have we heard enough from parents and students?

4. Who will benefit from what I learn about this problem?

  • teachers
  • administration
  • policy-makers
  • parents
  • students
  • school/parent/district/student Technology Committees

Distilling the central issue around BYOD must include the following words and ideas: culture, successful implementation, support or strategies, and possibly rationale. I am still playing with how to word my research problem. But, a rough draft might be: There is a need for an authentic, adaptive plan for supporting the use of personal technology by our learning community.



Creswell, J. W. (2012). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research. Boston: Pearson.