Enhancing teacher learning from guided video analysis

Hong, C. E., & Van Riper, I. (2016).  Enhancing teacher learning from guided video analysis of literacy instruction:  An interdisciplinary and collaborative approach.

Journal of Inquiry & Action in Education, 7(2), 94-110.

Using videos in education is a prominent practice and has been for many decades already.  Using them for promoting growth in pre-service teachers for the understanding of teaching techniques is a newer field.  Many studies now “document the use of videos for teacher development, [but] teachers’ analysis of their own videos or others is not considered a routinized practice in teacher education programs” (Hong & Van Riper, 2016, p. 94).  The edTPA program has affected views on that.  Because the students’ videos are critiqued by nationally trained specialists, the scores are valid.  Teacher colleges ought, then, to teach their candidates to evaluate themselves on video, and then collaborate with peers and instructors to check their own analyses (Hong & Van Riper, 2016). The studies that have been done on this process “are consistent, suggesting that video-recorded lessons facilitate teacher learning, challenge teachers’ existing knowledge and skills, and enable teachers to reflect on their instruction in order to make changes and positively impact the learning of their students” (p. 96).

This article described a study where instructors and students from two different fields worked together to use video to train pre-service and veteran teachers.  They watched videos of teachers working with students who struggled with reading issues.  Those who watched it learned not only about teaching literacy, but about teaching those with disabilities.  Both the language arts and special education departments collaborated to provide videos, to watch said videos, and then, as groups, to discuss what was learned.  One result the authors gleaned was to provide better training for those viewing videos.  Observers need guiding questions and then time to reflect individually and collectively.  Results showed that 92 percent of the participants learned important skills to improve their own teaching, though the veteran teachers went deeper in their reflections than novice teachers, which was understandable (Hong & VanRiper, 2016).

A study such as this took the research in the field a new and valuable direction, from just watching videos and writing a reflection, to being trained to analyze more effectively, to sharing knowledge collectively, and to applying the knowledge to their own varied classrooms.  No research had been done that focused on all three aspects:  viewing one’s own teaching, viewing published authentic classrooms on video, and viewing other teachers’ at work, and then doing analysis with guidance and collaboration (Hong & VanRiper, 2016).

While the authors were excited to be taking research in this field to new places, they admitted that other questions need to be asked:  “Did the teacher candidates try the techniques they observed?  Were they able to modify and adapt the strategies they liked easily?…Was their application practical within the classroom setting?” (Hong & VanRiper, 2016, p. 106).  The need to look beyond college into the first job is the call here.  I would like to do that in my own research project.  I want to look at the use of training videos and their effects in practicum experiences, in the student teaching semester, and into the first job opportunity.  Teacher colleges such as the one I work for already collect data on this.  The data just need to be strengthened somewhat, organized, compared, and analyzed better to find results to these questions.

K-12 Online Learning

Patrick, S., & Powell, A., (2009).  A summary of research on the effectiveness of K-12

Online Learning.  iNACOL. http://www.k12.com/sites/default/files/pdf/school- 

         docs/NACOL_Research Effectiveness-hr.pdf

This “memo contains three sections: 1) a summary of the major study done by the U.S. Department of Education, 2) a brief literature review of online learning research and studies, and 3) future research recommendations” (Patrick & Powell, 2009).  An encouraging collection of findings, this article bullet-pointed twelve major findings in a meta-analysis of 51 study effects.  The “meta-analysis found that, on average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction” and that “blended learning is effective and worth the effort required to design and implement [the] approach” (Patrick & Powell, 2009).

Within the literature review, three states and two different levels of schooling were targeted for discussion.  West Virginia Virtual School reviewed results for students learning Spanish.  The students doing online courses did as well or better than the students in traditional settings.  In Florida, a non-profit “watchdog” group agreed that the virtual schooling in their state was not only successful academically, but a “bargain for Florida taxpayers.”  The teachers in Florida who learned to teach online claimed, also, that the experience made them better classroom teachers.  In Washington state, where there was an increase in on-time graduation rates, the credit was given to their Digital Learning Commons (online courses).  The public schools studied claimed their online students did not suffer socially since they “engaged in activities outside the school day.”  Finally, in higher education, students in online learning performed “equally well or better than classroom-based learners and experienced better use of higher order thinking skills, integrative thinking, and reflective learning” (Patrick & Powell, 2009).

The extensive coverage of this meta-analysis provides tremendous positive rationale for schools and programs making decisions regarding online learning programs.  The momentum of success documented–including the “List of Effectiveness Studies” at the end of the article–will no doubt encourage adoption of the proven practices of blended and online learning courses.

Future research needs to “show correlations between program models, instructional models, technologies, conditions and practices for effective online learning.”  It was suggested to look at standardized achievement test scores, supplied by state departments, from the 18 states that have virtual charter schools.  That data compared with end-of-course testing for all students (traditional and online) would provide for a larger-scale study (Patrick & Powell, 2009).

I am already convinced that online learning and now blended learning are excellent opportunities for both teacher and student.  These studies show to be true what we have been learning in our courses all along this semester.   I would like to continue to explore program models and instructional models for blended classrooms, so that I could design my higher ed courses differently in the fall.

Teaching teachers to incorporate gaming

Becker, K. (2007). Digital game-based learning once removed: teaching teachers.  British

Journal of Educational Technology, 38(3), 478-488.

Karen Becker (2007) explores why teachers are hesitant to adopt technology into their on-ground courses.  Because they typically do not have resources of time and equipment, because they may lack an understanding of how to use games, and because they may not read the journals that discuss current practices, the teachers remain aloof to the possibilities inherent in the field.  There are disconcerting voices they may hear in media and from principals and other colleagues to further deepen their nervousness  Some courses are available to teach teachers to think differently about technology (see www.minkhollow.ca/KB/PF/PFGacademe.html#courses) (p. 480).  While teachers have opted to use computers for some things–email, in-class use, reports, presentations and for reference–this is certainly nothing compared to a full integration of technology into content and pedagogy.

The second half of the article focuses on a class in which Becker (2007) is involved.  The goal of the class is to introduce various games teachers could incorporate and how they might think differently about how much and when to use games and other technology in their classes. In one final quotation, Becker (2007) pushes strongly for the use of interactive programs as opposed to the linear technology of television, etc.  She says, “It should not be surprising that today’s learners easily grow bored and restless with books as a medium of learning.  Traditional lecturing approaches require passivity and acceptance, but games are fundamentally dependant on the concept of agency.  ‘Agency is our ability to alter the world around us, or our situation in it.  We are able to act, and that action has effects.  This is probably the first thing we learn as babies.  This is the crucial distinction between interactive and linear entertainment’” (qtd. In Becker, 2007).

The focus of this article drifted, even though Karen Becker (2007) occasionally made strong points.  She began with a clear case of why teachers may shy from incorporating technology, but then only barely supplied an answer:   teach them in teacher preparation programs.  She did not mention the importance of deepening their ability to understand how to blend technology with content and pedagogy.  Perhaps it was assumed that would follow, given the course she was proposing to solve the problem.  This article, coupled with others about TPCK and other preservice teacher coursework, helps provide a stronger foundation for those in teacher prep programs.

Since I am fully involved in a teacher preparation program, I am already interested in encouraging teachers to use technology well.  Our program offers one three-hour class in Educational Technology.  In conversation just this week with the professor, I learned that she is doing well in the overall goals of TPCK.  Students are learning to incorporate technology into both pedagogy and content.  After reading articles such as this (Becker 2007), I am able to speak with more knowledge and guide our professor somewhat for now, and more so as my CMU program continues.

Educating for digital futures

Bridgstock, R. (2016). Educating for digital futures: what the learning strategies of digital media professionals can teach higher education. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 53(3), 306-315. doi:10.1080

This article explores the learning strategies used by professionals in the digital media field and then proposes new directives for digital media curriculum in higher education. After conducting in-depth interviews with “eight successful Australian digital media professionals working in micro-businesses” (p. 307), Bridgstock described the learning environments of the interviewees. They consider the fast-changing face of technology both a blessing a curse, admitting that they do not have time themselves to keep up with the needed learning. They prefer to hire college graduates—even though they believe the curriculum is lacking—because people who finish a degree are committed to the field (and others change jobs too often). These professionals learn much of what they need in the quickly-changing market by taking non-accredited courses on Lynda.com, for example (because the content is up-to-date), by social learning in a “community of practice” (p. 310), and through Twitter and Google plus. “Self-motivation and curiosity, and an immediate sense of task relevance underpinned the interviewees’ professional learning processes” (p. 311). Pre-packaged curricula (common in higher education) that takes three years to modify simply does not meet the needs of a career in digital media. Students in the university may “have difficulty transferring what they have learned in a decontextualized classroom situation to a contextualized, authentic one when they eventually encounter one” (p. 312). Instead, universities need to integrate authentic learning into more than just a capstone class. “They must become ‘meta-universities’—overarching, accessible, empowering, dynamic, global, communally constructed frameworks of open materials and online platforms….[These universities] will be the most successful in the learning and teaching sphere” (p. 314).

Bridgstone (2016) has summarized valuable feedback from successful practitioners in the field of digital media. In her clearly written descriptions, she has outlined several vital areas of need and concern for those universities striving to be cutting edge in the area of training digital media experts. Even if universities choose to ignore her work, the needs will remain and graduates will be left to find their way to the “community of practice” on Twitter or Google plus.

I am thinking to study how digital media (and training in all media opportunities) can play a larger role in the training of pre-service teachers. This article instructs me to consider the possible curriculum modifications our institution ought to analyze. Hopefully, it will not take three years to instigate!