Tag Archive | Chartered teacher case study

Continuing Conversations

 The ‘World of Work’ posts are still appearing on the pupils’ individual blogs. The children’s posts now show evidence of building on the ideas expressed by their peers. They’re referring to each others’ blogs – some even adding links. I’m glad now that I made the decision to ‘take a step back’ and allow things to develop naturally.

A few children who don’t normally ‘blog’ from home are beginning to do so. For example, Russell  recently updated his blog so that he could join in the ‘conversation’:

“One of the hard things in life is choise some are easy like what should i wear and others are hard like what car to buy. BUT THE HARDEST ONE IS WHAT JOB TO HAVE BECAUSE THERE ARE LOADS. When i grow up i would either like to be a normal police officer which is like solving crimes and stuff. Or in the traffic police, which is like catching speeders and arriving at motorway accidents or illegal number plates. Or be in the armed responce unit which are the police with guns and go to accident which suspects are armed. ”  

Jaydean also wrote from home:

“Our class, P7V had a visitor, Miss Hart. Miss Hart is a journalist, she told us a lot about journalism its made me think. I love performing but journalism sounds quite fun. My passion is to perform as I love singing, dancing and acting but if anything goes wrong and Im not able to perform, I’ll consider being a journalist. Just as my friend nina said in one of her posts there are so many desisions!!!!”

Other children who don’t normally blog are choosing not to write about the ‘World of Work’ thread, but are posting new topic conversations.

For example, Kieran S recently posted:

“I am going on a trip to Ardeonaig. On the 9th to the 20th of may you get to go lots of places like up a mountain and go Canoing. You get to go on the high ropes there is a games hall to there is lots more stuff.I went last year to. With my friends Russell Adam and Stewart It was SO funny. but the bad thing is that you have to do the cleaning up after you has finish your dinner. It is still very good. one of the funny thing that happened was when Russell and Adam put Stewart’s pajamas in to the water and he had to take my one’s but it was not funny for me. I hope i have fun when i go.bye”

Courtney wrote:

“hi well i know that i haven’t been on but ive been bizzy well you know that i’m in da scouts so you might know that i do badges well i’ve been doin ma photogrephers badge and we’re doin five aside footi and goin up kanarde wood oh and a beaver trail. finaly were goin t a bothy but i dont know if i’m goin as it’s two hours in a bus and it is really snowy so it will b cold in da tent!!!!”

The children who do tend to post in their own time are becoming more adept at it.

For example, Anna wrote recently:

” I’m gettting the hand of writing posts now! At first i was totally stuck but now i write about anything really. I like to comment on other peoples blogs to,especially people from the allstars and even our class write gr8 posts that you have to comment on. I reccomend Moni’s Blog, Because she has lots of posts about what we have been up to in p7v. I also like looking at Beki’s Blog because she has interesting posts like book reviews and stuff. Ninzy’s Blog. I like to look at other peoples to but i dont have time the now cause i’m going out with my little cuz. …To be continued D

 Maryam tends to write posts regularly. A recent post received a number of comments. One of them was from Nadine  from  Allstars.

Nadine commented:

‘Hi Maryam!!! )
I am Nadine from The o8 Allstars!! I am from Australia and i am almost twelve years old.
You sound like a really nice person and i’d really like to be a friend!
Anyway, i am soooo into writing too! My whole class says i’m so good too.
I want to be a writer so badly!!
I might be a doctor too, but i hate having to inject needles and see blood! (

I’ll need to devote some time to investigating the impact of comments on postings 🙂

So What IS Happening? …Post 2

 The idea of ‘online and offline’ co-existing communities is something that Victoria suggested I look at in my Case Study: She suggests looking at:

  • whether the use of co-existing online communities enhances and/or changes the offline context of my classroom;
  • whether it shifts the ways in which both myself and the children in the class conceptualize and operationalize curriculum;
  • whether I find myself changing the ways in which I teach and deliver curriculum.
  • I think that some of these issues can be addressed following some recent activities on the pupils’ blogs.


     Maryam posted this on her blog early in January:

    “I’ve been thinking on being a book writer.Well,i dont know yet but i love reading books and i always like writing stories.I might start writing more on my wiki.My room has quite alot of books flooding everywhere.He He!Anyway i was wondering if you could give me some tips how to be a good story writer.”

    I posted a comment that led me to thinking about introducing the children to different Learning Styles. The children were very keen to find their preferred style. The quiz they took can be found HERE. This led them to want to research what job they might be most suited to .. and they began to Blog about this.

    I think  Ainsley  was the first to post.

    “i just love reading books i dont know how i just love it. I love to write stories and read stories. when i am older i want to become a writer and write lots of things ( but i dont know yet what i am going to write hehe.I love scary books , sad books , adventure books and etc. I dont read the news paper because i find it boring and i just dont like to read it but every thing else is fun to read. maybe you should try to rite your own book and i will to. i will come back to you when i have wrote atleast 4 pages hehe”

    Nina wrote a great post at home one evening. It was obvious that she had put a lot of thought into writing it, and when I noticed it on ‘google reader’ that evening, I decided that I would share it with the others the next day ………. it’s interesting that after the post had been shared, there was a spontaneous ’round of applause’ and when she got back home, she re-vamped her post by adding paragraphs and some more interesting words and phrases here and there (audience awareness?). I’ve included a bit here:

    “Decisions.There is so much decisions in life there right infront of you,some are hard and some are easy(i tend to ask for advice on the hard)

    Like one for example what should i have for breakfast?But the one thing that is the hardest i think is what your career should be.Well when we were young we all wanted to be heroes and heroines like firemen,Police,Vets,doctor,teachers,dancers and more.But when you get older you start to think more about this. I’m not old enough to get a job yet of course but it just makes me think.

    I wanted to be a Ballet dancer when i was small but i don’t go to dancing because of my spine, therefore ballet is not a job option for me as things have changed.Well i think if i go to Uni or College i could become most of the things because i think i’m quite clever not at language though,i don’t like it.

    Here are a few jobs i’d like to do and why.Well my first one is a Journalist i’d like to do this because i like to find out things and it would be interesting and i think i’m alright at writing.I’d like to get in touch with a newspaper and get better at my writing…….”

     Anna then wrote:

    Nina’s Post kind of got me thinking…There are a lot os Desicions in life.I guess we make never really think about it!Well when i’m older i really want to be something along the lines of a Journalist. (eg;Fashion magazine editor;Write:Journalist) That kinda stuff.One time i considered being a Police woman but then i though nahh…The uniformas are hideous!! No i’m joking really i think if i were a police Woman I might get hurt or something ( So basically this post is to say thanks to Nina For giving me a  bit of a boost and stuff like that haha xbye xxx”

    Miss L is a final year Bed student in our class at the moment. She was keen to set up her own blog and added a post to join in with the ‘conversation’. A short extract is below:

    “I thought I would write something about this as so many of you have. Although I have not fully entered the world of work officially I am nearly there! Fingers crossed anyway!Where to start? Well, when I was wee I always wanted to be a teacher. I used to make my little brother sit and listen to me when I pretended to teach him! I used to have to bribe him with sweets etc! However, when he got a bit older he did appreciate the help with his homework so I think we both benefitted from it!…………………..”

    Bethany added this post just this weekend:

    “I didn’t really know what to write a post on and everyone seems to be writing about what they want to be when they are older. It got me thinking of how many choices we actually make in life. I mean there is little ones like what will i eat for breakfast? or what will i wear tomorrow? There are also bigger choices like Will i buy the game i want that is £45? The choice that quite alot gets to me is what i want to play when i go to my friends houses. I can never seem to decide. I think a reason for that is that you are worried incase the persons house you are at does not want to play that thing and you are making it boring for them. Another choice that is hard for me is what i want to be when i am older? When i was smaller i used to want to be a ballerina or a nurse but now that has changed especially because i dont really like programs that they cut people open and things. I just personally could not do that and i cant understand how some people can do that! I also used to want to be either a vet or a teacher until i found out that being a vet can involve putting animals down.:( ! A teacher i am still considering with about a million other jobs. If you think about it there is so much out there so i will just have to go with the flow and see what life throws at me!”

    Monica joined in only today:

    “When i am older i would like to become a singer. I would go on the X factor. I have always been quite shy. So that would be a thing i would need to work on. I am not sure if i am a good singer or not lol. Its hard to say when your friends say you are good but then all the boys say you are rubbish. The only thing is i am not sure about going on the X factor is i might go on and make a fool of  my self if i cant sing lol. But i will give it a try in the future.

     Another job i would like to do is be a teacher. I would like to teach primary schools. Also i would need to be more confident to be able to speak in front of people. These are only two jobs i wouold like.

    Bye x

    Do you think i should go for the X Factor when i am older?”

    So to return to Victoria’s email suggestions:

  • whether the use of co-existing online communities enhances and/or changes the offline context of my classroom
  • I have lots of thoughts on this and will devote a post to the topic 🙂 

  • whether it shifts the ways in which both myself and the children in the class conceptualize and operationalize curriculum;
  • whether I find myself changing the ways in which I teach and deliver curriculum.
  • Although these two issues need to be looked at very closely, it is a fact that the ‘Learning Style’ quiz idea came from reading a post on one of the children’s blogs. I’ve also arranged for an author and a journalist to visit the class because of the interest shown in these careers in the recent blog posts quoted above …………

    ….. and If anyone knows a famous X Factor star, I’m sure that Monica would be very happy if you could arrange a class visit 🙂

    So What IS Happening? …Post 1

    In her email to me, Jackie‘s thoughts included:

    •  the idea of exploring the area of gendered representations of identity

    She was referring to the children’s use of ‘weemees‘ to represent themselves.

    wee-adaml.png    wee-darrenm.png   weekierans.png     wee-fraserm.png

    weebethanyr.png    weeninam.png   weejaydeanc.png    wee-sophie.png

    The children had great fun designing their characters. The girls (2nd row) all spent a lot of time getting their weemees to look like themselves …. eye colour, hair colour, face shapes, etc. The boys (top row) are less recognisable! They’ve designed characters to depict their interests. I know, for example, that the boy represented in the first picture is very interested in characters in computer games (this also shows in his imaginative writing tasks). The ‘guitar hero’ doesn’t really look like his creator, but I know that he does enjoy playing the guitar.

    Jackie also highly rated:

    • the importance of allowing the children to drive the use of the blogs

    I’ve tried very hard this session to make sure that this is the case and have just carried out a quick review of what has happened over this last month.

    I looked at gender and types of posts. Here’s my ‘snapshot’ view of the situation in the month of January (2008!)  ……… learnerblogs was VERY slow tonight, so may have got fed up waiting for a few of the blogs to load 🙂

    Girls …. 30 posts

    Boys …. 24 posts

    I broke down the post into types:

    • basic pictures from web
    • what’s happening in class / school
    • playing with codes
    • own thoughts

    The ‘breakdown’ is as follows  – girls are blue, boys are red

    Basic pics from web – 0                10

    Class/School posts   – 12               10

    Playing with Codes   –  3                 0

    Own Thoughts          –  15               4

    These numbers are just for January .. the bigger picture might be different 😀

    Draft Literature Review ……. 2

     Here’s a summary of my proposed first wee bit of my literacy review ……….. it didn’t help stumbling across the recent new debates taking place online this weekend. It’s too late to change track or make any changes now – but this is only a first draft so I’ll keep an eye on what’s happening 🙂


    Can Weblogs and Wikis and other associated emerging social software tools be used to create an effective on-line learning community?

     The Futurelab website report on Social Software states that the term social software came into use in 2002 and is generally attributed to Clay Shirky. Shirky, a writer and teacher on the social implications of internet technology, defines social software simply as “software that supports group interaction” (Shirky 2003). The report describes Weblogs as easily updatable personal websites, often used as personal journals. The social aspect of weblogs, it says, can be seen in the ability for readers to comment on postings, to post links to other blogs and, through using pingback or trackback functions, to keep track of other blogs referencing their posts. This enables bloggers to know who is referring to and building on what they say in their blogs.

     This research looked at specific issues surrounding the development of online identities

    ‘. …. the perception of an actual or imagined audience prompts us to think about what we wish to show’

    ‘. ………writing online provides us with the opportunity to “author the self ” (Holland et al. 1998), to sustain a narrative of identity (Giddens 1991), and even to explore a number of different stories of the self, but these identities always are forged through our connection with others.’

     They explored the concepts of “affinity spaces” (Gee 2004) and “communities of practice” (Lave and Wenger 1991) in order to try to describe their relationship with others who blog and who seem to operate within a similar “constellation of sites.”

    Wenger explains that new technologies such as the Internet have extended the reach of our interactions beyond the geographical limitations of traditional communities, but the increase in flow of information does not obviate the need for community. In fact, it expands the possibilities for community and calls for new kinds of communities based on shared practice.

     …………. the concept of community of practice is influencing theory and practice in many domains and that, from humble beginnings in apprenticeship studies, the concept was grabbed by businesses interested in knowledge management and has progressively found its way into other sectors. It has now become the foundation of a perspective on knowing and learning that informs efforts to create learning systems in various sectors and at various levels of scale, from local communities, to single organizations, partnerships, cities, regions, and the entire world.

    In this article Dr Gilly Salmon writes that working online is really a new environment for learning, not just a tool and explains that Professor Susan Greenfield, in her recent book Tomorrow’s People, shows us that the accessible and interactive dialogue younger people take for granted has great potential for learning and development, if we can tap into it. The availability of digital resources and the internet as a mediator invites all those seeking learning or understanding to work together in new ways. Online networking is equally as important where there is little consensus about key concepts or rapidly developing knowledge and practice – something that applies to so many professional fields in our time.

     ………… The online environment provides a medium for communication and also shapes it. Participants do not need permission to contribute and individuals can receive attention from those willing and able to offer it. Face-to-face identities become less important and the usual discriminators such as race, age and gender are less apparent.

    Back to Futurelab

    …….Communities of practice are groups of people who have specific reasons to have an affinity. It can be an informal network or forum where tips are exchanged and ideas generated (Stewart 1996). It can be a group of professionals, informally bound to one another through exposure to a common class of problems, common pursuit of solutions, and in doing that they become a source of a body of knowledge. Etienne Wenger (Wenger 2000) expands on learning as an inherently social activity. He notes that acquiring knowledge involves an interplay between socially defined knowledge and personal experience which is mediated by membership of a group. Any learning situation has to negotiate both an individual’s experience, and the knowledge that the individual either brings to, or takes from, the group. Hence there is a logical reason to engage in social software. A potential important factor in the use of social software for online communities of practice is the ability to cross boundaries. Learners might be able to join groups in which age, pre-existing knowledge, gender or location are no longer an apparent barrier. There is also no barrier to young learners establishing their own communities and networks.

     In The Paper, ‘A Digitally Driven Curriculum’ by Buckingham and McFarlane (2001) remind us that many of today’s children are in fact establishing their own communities and networks using sites such as ‘My Space’, ‘Beebo’, and MSN. He thinks that educators should monopolise on the online communication skills already being developed in the pupils’ lives outside of school. 

    An article in the Guardian newspaper by Steve O’Hear (20/6/06),  explains that the “new” web is already having an impact in class, as teachers start exploring the potential of blogs, media-sharing services, and other social software, which, although not designed specifically for e-learning, can be used to empower students and create exciting new learning opportunities. These same tools allow teachers to share and discuss innovations more easily and, in turn, spread good practice.

    A recent HMI Report on Improving Scottish Education includes a section on ‘ICT in Learning and Teaching’ (2007). In the introduction to that report, Graham Donaldson (HM Senior Chief Inspector of Education) states that :

    Information and communications technology (ICT) has transformed the means by which we inform ourselves, remain up to date with world event and areas of personal interest, and further our learning. For many, books and journals are no longer the first or primary source of information or learning. We now regularly rely on images, video, animations and sound to acquire information and to learn. Increased and improved access to the internet has accelerated this phenomenon. We now acquire and access information in ways fundamentally different from the pre-ICT era. The findings outlined in this report confirm that Scotland is well placed to build on current strengths in order to realise the full potential of ICT to improve learning and achievement. The challenge is to make that happen. 

     I spoke to Mary Devine, our Curriculum Development Manager. I wanted to find out my own Authority’s view of using web 2 tools with pupils. Mary left me in no doubt that this is seen as the way forward to develop all sorts of areas of learning. At the moment there is no specific policy in place about the use of these new online tools. The main priority is to find ways of helping teachers to feel comfortable with the new technologies.

     I contacted Malcolm Wilson from our I.C.T. support team. The team are happy for teachers to set up class blogs as long as all safety rules are in place. The main recommendation, however, is to ‘go down the road’ of Think.com.  Think.com has been in place in the Authoity schools for 5 years.


    This view is of the opinion that Educators are typically not neutral about blogging. There are fierce defenders and fierce critics. Each has an important voice. Will Richardson points out, “One of the reasons we fear these technologies is because we as teachers don’t yet understand them or use them. But the reality is that our students already do. It’s imperative that we be able to teach our kids how to use the tools effectively and appropriately because right now they have no models to follow.”

    The Paper entitled ‘Emerging Technologies’ by Bob Godwin-Jones (2003), explains that blogs and wikis offer powerful opportunities for online collaboration for learners. He states that the encouragement of peer to peer networking and buddy learning is central to a Constructivist learning approach, and goes on to say that there has been an increasing interest in using blogs in education.

    Steve Lee & Miles Berry think that many students find that their learning is most effective when they actively construct knowledge during group social interaction and collaboration. Characteristics of such approaches also include: an awareness of multiple
    perspectives, provision of realistic contexts, a sense of ownership and voice,
    learning as a social experience, an acknowledgement of multiple modes of
    representation and a sense of self-awareness (metacognition, or learning about
    learning). These approaches are variously called social constructivism, social
    learning, collaborative learning or aggregated learning. The theories of social
    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_constructivism) epistemology and Vygotsky’s ‘zone of proximal development’
    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lev_Vygotsky) provide a rigorous underpinning for
    such pedagogies. 

    The Concept Classroom Website provides a series of online professional development workshops. In the Constructivism as a Paradigm for Teaching and Learning workshop, it describes that the Constructivist theory states that people construct their own understanding and knowledge of the world, through experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences. A Constructivist teacher encourages pupils to constantly assess how an activity is helping them gain understanding. They become “expert learners” and LEARN HOW TO LEARN. The constructivist classroom, it states, also relies heavily on collaboration.

    The Constructivist approaches to learning have led to the development of the Cognitive Apprenticeship theory. Cognitive Apprentices allow the master (teacher) to model behaviours and then imitates them with the master coaching. (Wikipedia).

    George Siemens writes that behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism are the three broad learning theories most often utilized in the creation of instructional environments. These theories, however, were developed in a time when learning was not impacted through technology.

    The starting point of connectivism is the individual. Personal knowledge is comprised of a network, which feeds into organizations and institutions, which in turn feed back into the network, and then continue to provide learning to individual. This cycle of knowledge development (personal to network to organization) allows learners to remain current in their field through the connections they have formed.

    Connectivism presents a model of learning that acknowledges the tectonic shifts in society where learning is no longer an internal, individualistic activity. How people work and function is altered when new tools are utilized. The field of education has been slow to recognize both the impact of new learning tools and the environmental changes in what it means to learn. Connectivism provides insight into learning skills and tasks needed for learners to flourish in a digital era.

    Post 3 coming up soon 🙂

    Literature Review No.1 …….


    My ‘Review of the Literature’ bit of the Dissertation is due scarily soon! I’ve been saving links to my delicious account, and I’ve ‘copied and pasted’ relevant bits and pieces from various ones onto a wikispace ……… and from there on to a Word document where each ‘link’ has its own page (well, at least I’m familiar with the content now)! It’s surely just a simple matter of making a plan and placing each page into the correct section??

    ………….. The trouble is that I keep getting more and more ‘leads’ to new research and new articles. For example, when I first contacted Jackie Marsh, she very kindly sent me a copy of one of her publications. The quote below from her article has helped to allay any fears that I should be more prescriptive about the use of blogging with my own class. She wrote:

    “More frequent opportunities for more open-ended explorations would be a useful addition to current pedagogical practices. Enabling children to create blogs based on their own interests and experiences, rather than linked to a classroom-based topic, might offer opportunities for children to create networks of peers interested in similar topics, thus offering valuable learning opportunities with regard to social networking software”

    This idea was echoed in her email to me when she wrote:

    “I like the way you are letting the children drive the use of the blogs, that is so important if they are going to be successful. An interesting area to explore would be gendered representations of identity, it strikes me just from the pictures the children
    have used!”

    There’s always the temptation to be seen to ‘lead’ the learning … but I’m glad now that I’ve resisted 🙂

    As I read through Jackie’s paper, I noted that she’d worked with Victoria Carrington. I ‘googled’ Victoria and decided to send her an email. She’s kindly allowed me to share her advice here. She wrote:

    “I read your entry about the kids in your class and their preference for bebo. This corresponds with feedback from slightly older kids in the UK and here in Australia (13 and 14 year olds). they say they use bebo because it does more interesting things than myspace, but also because they have more personal control. they’re very wary of handing over any control. the other thing that is striking is that most of the kids i’ve come across (i have a small set of early adolescents i watch here in australia and one of my doctoral students is watching another group in the UK) is that the bebo accounts are pretty much an extension and intensification of social contacts they have offline. the online-offline movement seems very fluid.

    Most of my own stuff in this area has been about out-of-school learning and use of text/literacy. i will be interested to hear how these things are translating into classroom practice – whether the use of co-existing online communities enhances and/or changes the offline context of your classroom; whether it shifts the ways in which you and your students conceptualize and operationalize curriculum; whether you find yourself changing the ways in which you teach and deliver curriculum; whether a school-sourced online community will have the same features and adoption as one created by the kids outside school. will be really interesting.”

    All of this is going to be so helpful for my dissertation ‘write-up’. It’s great to get personal feedback. When I contacted Jackie and Victoria, I had no idea that they both had Blogs ….. and unfortunately, instead of getting on with my Literature Review write up, I’ve been reading them!

    ………… However, I did find a great link today on one of Jackie’s posts and I’ll definately be quoting from this research.

    Ok ….. I’m off now to reduce my 17,874 word count to the 8000 limit for this section of the dissertation. I need that plan (and I need it quickly!)

    Methodology Questions …. Even More Thoughts?


      Elements of a Case Study:
    •Rich, vivid and holistic description (‘thick description’) and portrayal of events, contexts and situations through the eyes of participants (including the researcher) …. all involved: me,  pupils (both in my own school and other schools e.g. Australian ‘AllStars’),  parents and other adults who comment
    •Contexts are temporal, physical, organizational, institutional, interpersonal … describes the blogs well?
    •Chronological narrative –  definately ‘fits’ well
    •tell the story – also fits well with what I want to do 

    The Course Textbook, however, reminds us that there are also Problems with Case Studies (my thoughts on how to overcome these problems are in ‘blue’) 

    • Organisation difficulties (hopefully this won’t be too much of a problem because of RSS feeds to enable tracking posts)
    • Limited generalisability (because of the nature of the study, I hope to identify general trends e.g. gender issues if applicable … but only within this particular group of pupils. No claim will be made that the same effect would happen with a different set of pupils in another class situation)
    • Problems of cross-checking (using a variety of data gathering techniques should address the ‘cross-checking’ issue)
    • Risk of bias, selectivity and subjectivity (I have asked the depute head in school to meet regularly to discuss the research. She is very skeptical about the use of blogging and admits that she sees no difference between what I’m doing and allowing the pupils to freely use other social networks such as ‘My Space’ or ‘Bebo’. We have a good working relationship generally, so it won’t be perceived as a ‘threatening situation’ J. Kim P, a teacher from Sidney, whose pupils also blog, has agreed to be my ‘critical friend’ during the research period. Some of our pupils communicate with each other regularly through their blogs)

     Data Gathering Techniques used in Case Studies:

    • Observations (structured to unstructured) (regular RSS feed checks in order to observe who is posting, commenting)
    • Field notes (what is being said? Are the comments building on what’s been posted, or are they written in ‘isolation’ – e.g. Hi, how are you doing? Type of comment)
    • Interviews (structured to unstructured) (necessary, in order to establish that my view of what I’m reading is correct. Informal interviews can be held in class, formal interviews will ensure anonymity if required and will be useful for gathering data from pupils in Australia via teacher e-mail)
    • Documents (?….)
    • Numbers (although mainly a ‘qualitative’ study, some numbers will be included ….  explanation to follow!)


    This will be used to ensure that I don’t ‘just see what I’m looking for’. Discussing my perception of events with my ‘skeptical colleague’ (depute head) and my ‘critical friend’ (Kim P from Australia ) will be one way of ‘keeping my feet on the ground’.  There will also be data collected from a variety of sourcesand in a number of ways over time in order that information gathered can be compared and contrasted. This should ensure enough information can be made available in order to answer the research question.

    Stages in a Case Study:

    • Start with a wide field of focus ( I will look closely at the ‘big picture’. Who is posting and commenting? Who are receiving comments and from whom? What is being said in posts and comments?)

    ·        Progressive focusing (a closer look at comments in order to establish any formal / informal learning taking place. Distribution of questionnaires. Holding of formal and informal interviews in order to verify my interpretation of events)

    • Draft interpretation/report (avoid generalizing too early). (on-going discussions with skeptical friend / critical friend)

    Am I Going In The Right Direction?

    Orienting Decisions

    1.      Why do I want to research this particular area?

    In order to answer this I will ‘re-visit’ my last UOP module and highlight some of the main findings that led to me want to do this research. I’ve already discussed this HERE

    2. Who might want to use the research – is there an ‘audience’?

    The first answer to this question has to be, ‘me’!

    I recently wrote a blog post  about  Konrad Glogowski ‘s work. His thesis focussed on the use of blogging communities in education. His work was with pupils a little older than mine (I teach p7 – his pupils are 13 – 14). I’m looking forward to seeing if his ideas can work successfully in my own situation.

    The findings will have a direct impact on how I use web 2 tools with future classes ….. and our school development plan for this session includes the setting up of blogs for all primary 7 and 6 stages.

    Some teachers are keen to do this, others are sceptical (the Depute Head has agreed to be my ‘sceptical friend’!). I suspect that other educators who have set up individual blogs for their own pupils might be interested in the research results? I think that the pupils and their parents will also be interested?

    3. Will Participants know how the research will be used and do they have the right to refuse to take part?

    I have already discussed the research proposal informally with the pupils and at a recent Parent Evening it was mentioned casually (with no objections). I will contact all participants more formally very soon to give precise details of the research plan and ask for their permission to include them. They will have the opportunity to withdraw at any time.

    4. How do I protect those who may be identifiable in the research?

    The pupils have ‘blogging rules’ embedded in each of their individual blogs. I will refer to the pupils’ blogs throughout the research but this will be using the same rules as the pupils use (first names only, etc.)

    5.  What time scale is involved?

    Monday 12 November – Sunday 25 November:

    Study the various methods available for data collection
    Appreciate the difference between qualitative and quantitative data
    Consider the different approaches required for qualitative and quantitative data
    Decide on the best method/s of data collection for the project

    Monday 26 November – Sunday 16 December 

    Consider the different methods of data analysisDecide which methods of analysis will be most appropriate for the project
    Investigate different methods for presentation of data
    Consider how analysis of Findings leads to Conclusions and Implications
    Finalise the design for the research plan

    Monday 7 January – Sunday 27 January  
     Review of Literature. 

     Monday 28 January – Sunday 10 February     

    Revise research plan
    Revise literature review
    Implement research plan                   

    Monday 11 February – Sunday 24 February        

    Implementation of research plan
    Discussion of issues arising on ‘Blackboard’                  

    Monday 25 February – Sunday 9 March 

    Confirm with tutor that research plan is on timeImplementation of research plan
    Discussion of issues arising on Blackboard
    Decide on methods of presenting findings                                       

     Monday 10 March – Sunday 30 March

    Implementation of research plan
    Consider likely findings, conclusions and implications  

    Monday 31 March – Sunday 20 April 
    Prepare findings
    Completion of research plan
    Begin preparation of dissertation                                                       

     Monday 21 April – Sunday 18 May
    Completion of Dissertation. 
    Submit bound copy of dissertation to the University by Monday 19 May        


    Yippee! …. except I have to actually do all the hard work in-between 🙂     

    Tutor Feedback!

    I’ve received feedback from my tutor and she’s given permission for it to be posted on this blog so I’ve included part of it here:

    “……….My starting hypothesis would be that those who work in an online environment would be a self-selecting group of fairly self-sufficient individuals, in which case there might not be a lot of chatter in the system. There is, I think, some danger that the success of the environment is judged by the volume of chatter, which I think would be a mistake. There’s also a thing about work process, and the extent people want to share their deliberations. Not everyone is the same. In our group, there are people who email me directly; and there are others who prefer the Discussion Board. And these things will vary according to contingent factors. Work pressures will mean that some people will prioritise the Discussion Board over responding to individual emails; and others will do the opposite; and yet others will do one thing some of the time and the other at different times, in a rhythm that is difficult to predict. An online environment can’t be successful if it imposes a work pattern………. Anne”

    In considering Anne’s response, I’ve tried to analyse the online environment created through the use of our class blog, individual blogs and wikispaces. I need to respond in ‘bite sized pieces’, though (because there’s a lot to digest!) so it may take a few posts to respond to all the points.

    This post includes my first thoughts about just a bit of the feedback:

    I agree totally with Anne’s interpretation of our adult use of the Blackboard learning environment for the Chartered Teacher course at University of Paisley. I’ve never felt comfortable using the Discussion Boards (even after 4 years of studying in that environment) but have always been an ‘enthusiastic lurker’!

     In the past, I’ve had to force myself to participate just to be seen to be a part of the community. I’m not sure why it’s always been a poblem for me …….. and why is that I’m perfectly comfortable posting to our class blog (surely posting to the WWW should be more scary than posting in a much more private Blackboard setting)?

    Although I’m comfortable enough posting to the class blog, it has taken me a long time to feel even remotely comfortable with the idea of having my own personal blog. However, here I am – and it’s ‘my own space’ (and personalising the blog with my own Header seemed important).

    I think that the notion of a ‘personal space’ is also very important to children. Last year our class won a local ICT competition. At the time, Ewan McIntosh   posted a response on his blog which included our ‘winning formula’ for providing a successful blogging platform for the pupils. He mentioned that the environment had to be:

    • “stable
    • easy to use
    • part of a community (the Falkirk school have created several individual pupil blogs which are all interconnected with each other, as well as connected with students and schools outside Scotland)
    • personalisable (this means really personalisable – the kids have control of every detail on the page to make their site feel like theirs, not some centralised silo-ed academic project).”

    I think that I’ve continued to allow the children in this session’s class build their own personal space so that chatter, informal learning and formal learning can co-exist, and that I’ve resisted imposing a ‘work pattern’?

    I think that Anna’s blog is a particularly good example of this?

    A Critical Friend response would be just great at this point 🙂 ……… and a big THANK YOU to Kim for agreeing to being my online critical friend! I’d really appreciate any comments 🙂

    Question and Aims … so far :)


    • Can Weblogs and Wikis and other associated emerging social software tools be used to create an effective on-line learning community?


    • To investigate the useful features, and barriers, when using blogs and wikis in a supportive on-line environment
    • To set appropriate tasks and to guide and monitor progress
    • To evaluate motivation, as well as formal and informal learning

    Motivation to Blog

    In a previous post, I wondered if I’d already put the following in place:

    ‘create a learner centred environment where participants have the freedom to build and maintain their own on-line presence’

    …. then I thought that maybe I should look at the ‘bigger picture’, so I devised a questionnaire for the children to find out more about their thoughts about ‘owning’ an individual blog.

    The questionnaire was distributed on Friday. The responses were all anonymous … but I did ask that they put ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ at the top of the page. The reason for the anonymity was to try to ensure that the children felt free to be honest – I asked for the ‘boy/girl’ thing because I just had a ‘gut feeling’ that the girls would have a more positive reaction to the use of the blogs (mainly based on the fact that they have been overheard discussing them more?)

    There were 12 questions, and now that I’ve had a chance to look at the results more closely, one or two (or 3 or 4?) things ‘jump out’ immediately.

    1. All pupils reprted that they had been quite excited/happy, or very excited/happy at the prospect of being given their own blog
    2. Most pupils reported that they had lost some interest in using their individual blogs since setting them up in September (jumping down one place .. e.g. ‘5’ went to ‘4’, ‘4’ went to ‘3’)
    3. There was no difference between the ‘boy/girl’ responses (even although I had anticipated this beforehand)
    4. 3 pupils had indicated that their enthusiasm towards using individual blogs had actually risen ……. the three pupils were boys (this was a surprise!)
    5. 2 pupils reported that their enthusiasm had dropped from ‘5’ to ‘1’ on the scale – one was a girl, one boy.
    6. Almost every pupil wrote about their frustration when trying to manage adding codes to their blogs

    A lot to digest ……. next post coming up 🙂