February 6th, 2008 jtemple1
The majority of educational research I have studied thus far has been about the learner–Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences, Brain-based Learning, Vygotsky’s Social Cognition. And, as in the Shulman article, I do believe that it is important to respect the learner and what s/he brings to the learning experience, but what I found so fascinating about the Visible Knowledge Project is that it is research focused on teaching, not learning–which is different –and it is research in practice.
Although I appreciate the PDF of the site documents for printing purposes, I am glad that they were not available when I reviewed the site. It would have been too tempting to just read the PDF to make sure I didn’t miss anything. And, I was skeptical of the site so motivation for perusing the site would have been low. I couldn’t see how a “poster” could provide any significant research findings. But as I scanned through the pages, I began to see how the electronic format of the posters allowed the researchers to expand anywhere and to include infinite amounts of information–information that was manageable because it was initially presented in a simple form, but when I wanted to explore a topic more in depth, detailed explanations, examples and related resources were instantly accessible. I would have missed a lot if I had just read the PDF.
This approach of allowing the learner to explore things more in depth and presenting information in manageable pieces is also what I liked best about the assignments that Bass and Linken gave to their students. They both pieced out the reading and analysis process for their learners so it would not be overwhelming. They encouraged their students to pursue their own interests and curiosity. Linken broke down the process for researching a paper into manageable chunks. This break down of information and process seems much more manageable than just having a final paper due. It also allowed students to see their own progress rather than simply focusing on the end result. Bass’s three role system created a process where students could work together to find a solution so that each student was covering more information with less work by learning and building on the reasoning of his peers. This reminds me of the game where one person starts a story by providing a phrase or sentence and then the next person adds a small piece, and so on, until, what is generally a very creative and interesting story has been told. This process seems like it would provide a collective knowledge of what all the students bring to the table and could provide infinite avenues for discussion depending on the specific interests of the participants.
Not being a teacher in a classroom, so far, educational research has been very theoretical to me. The information was presented in articles, lectures and presentations, and I dutifully applied the “schoolish behavior” I had learned and memorized it. The VKP site provides a dynamic environment that allows me to the opportunity not only to learn about a theory but to know what it looks like in practice and to see real life results. It also presents the information to me in a way that is not overwhelming and that encourages me to explore my areas of interest in the projects.
Entry Filed under: Week 3