The Mikado again

And, they're off!

Author: dalesaki (page 1 of 2)

EDCI 571 Week 6

Review of cohort videos:

Cheryl, Heather and Ben

Really liked the round-table format. Using the live-streaming synchronous method of interacting allowed for the “discussion” style of relaying information. I had lots of pausing to write all of my notes for the video. While I understood the topic of using info tech for assessments, I wasn’t clear about what Cheryl meant by the statement of “so much data and no one know what to do with it.” Was that about having raw test scores and assignment marks to analyze? Or having assessment tools and trying to see which ones are most effective in evaluating student understanding?

I agree that there is huge potential in game-play learning and that being a teacher who designs or informs a game-designer would be great for a career, but as you know, there’s a lot of “educational software” out there – some good, some not-so-good – and it is a tricky business. The most difficult part with game design is how to reach its audience: adolescents. Games have such a short shelf-life that literally it is a “here today, gone tomorrow” world of use.  In the world of gaming, even the best, most popular game will be tossed aside in a year, so to have adolescents use a game after its popularity has run its course is very difficult. Typically, what an adult views as excellent does not translate well to children. As parents, we all have tried to steer our children towards very engaging, educationally sound games, only to have them play for ten minutes and never touch again. It may be that we have to stop chasing the elusive “entertaining and educational” activity, as it will always be just out of reach.

Stellar video and topic!

Faune, Leanne and Rochelle

Really enjoyed the playful aspect of the video. You clearly had a vision of what you were producing, and to involve so many colleagues! Very impressive. The extra touch of text at the bottom of the screen helped a lot – I think in hindsight, our group should have made use of that (or subtitles). The topic of tackling technology truly touched on teachers’ trepidation to tie together technology and ‘tudents. Too tough!

This does bring up the Clark-Kozma debate of whether media can influence learning. Certainly when handled properly, every teacher will tell you that media can influence learning. However we live in a world that is imperfect, and having all of the tools and resources we need to make the media effective is not always the reality.

Loved the use of props, both real and imagined!

Trevor and Emily

Very well explained, and with great examples to highlight your points! Wholeheartedly agree with Emily’s point about a leader’s role in fostering a teacher’s learning environments for technology integration, and the what, how and why it is being brought in. Talking about the respect that the leader must convey to the staff is key to buy-in. As Emily states, in any school there will be teachers with a wide range of experience with technology, from skilled to neophyte. A good leader must be able to navigate the interpersonal side of guiding the uninitiated without overwhelming them, and understanding that some teachers know a lot about the use of the technology. The right approach can make or break the influence of the leader.

Appreciative Inquiry – certainly Trevor is right about being positive as the core principle in adopting something new. This is not limited to technology, but to life in general, although with teachers and technology in the classroom, this is very important. Trevor does touch on the idea of the positive outlook to life in general being the most predictable part of the reading.

Tracey and Mackenzie

As I mentioned in Faune, et al’s section, I appreciated the text on the screen – I wish we had thought to do that more on ours. Really liked the visuals!

I think that Schrier’s 7 guiding questions are at the heart of any use of technology in the classroom. These are excellent questions for all activities that a teacher does, but become very important when it comes to games and technology in the classroom.

As for the Chen-Chung article, although I agree that creator-based learning gets students engaged, I fall back on Clark-Kozma: could it be done without the media? In my English 11 class, I have students make their own games with the theme of William Golding’s, Lord of the Flies as the background. Students must design the games under certain guiding criteria, and while most fall back on an existing game and altering it, some come up with a new twist that is entirely unique. This is primarily done without computers, although they can use computers as well to create the game. So yes, Minecraft is a great game to learn certain concepts, but is it just a computer-based version of using Lego?

Deirdre, Gary and Andrew

Very humbling to be given a shout-out in another group’s video! I applaud your costuming efforts! A question regarding Gary’s costume: on the one hand it looked like a suit bag fitted like a garbage bag rain jacket, but then it was so short that it couldn’t have been a suit bag. So what was it? Of course with Andrew doing the media class, I thought it might be a covering from a lighting softbox. Regardless, an elegant touch combined with the cinnamon buns.

Guided Discovery Principle sounds like Trevor Mackenzie read that article. I think of learning to ride a bike as the “not too much, not too little” aspect of guidance. Learner Control seems like online learning or the old correspondence course method. Collaboration Principle is a bit like what this Master’s cohort is doing right now for the videos – cognitively demanding, and effectively shared.

Sean, Jeremy and Clay

You all looked very cold! Clay was visibly shaking, although Jeremy had no coat on and seemed okay. I loved Jeremy’s vocal pace – I was able to type and keep up with most of what he was saying.

Split attention principle seems intuitive, except there was a contradictory part to it in that the next principle promoted the exact opposite method. The modality principle espoused a mixed mode presentation over a single mode, and split attention says to limit it to one mode.

As Clay states, cueing and split attention and modality all have occurred in education for centuries; we only just are identifying them as different ways to present multimedia.

Jerry and Rhyanon

Like the velociraptor in Deirdre, Gary and Andrew’s video, I was left wondering about Rhyanon on a yardstick and what looks like a Van De Graaff generator and Jerry eating some sort of cake: an in-joke or a random, “Why not put it in the video?”

Of course your topic was about a topical as you can get: this is your life. Flexible learning for both teachers and students is a very different way to teach and learn. At the end of the day, it can only work for certain types of students (and parents) who can make it work. The blended part also works with a certain type of student. As we are currently doing this master’s course in a type of blended environment (at least for the ones in Victoria) we can examine ourselves as a case study. To your point, this is post-secondary, and there are huge differences and implications when there are adults versus children studying and learning.

Joanna Nicole and Hayley

I really enjoyed the format of debate – it allowed for a clear separation of approaches which highlighted the validity of each. Of course you were very civil with each other though. I don’t know how Joanna decided who won each point; seemed like it was on a whim. 🙂

Digital equity is huge when we look at the public school system. On the one hand, as Hayley said, it levels the playing field more by allowing many people access to information. But at the same time, like the pigs say in Animal Farm, “some are more equal than others.” It doesn’t tkae much to see the disparity between students not only in types of phones they have, but in some cases, having one at all. This is a pretty basic indicator of socio-economic status, as Nicole pointed out. Technically, school is supposed to give all equal access and take away the disparities. Technically.


Concluding words

These were such excellent and informative videos. Heidi, Lawrence, Rene and I did not have the intellectual rigor that all of the other groups put in, but all of our discussion happened before we did our recording. When we sat down to talk about our articles, we made the case for each category, and then chose one, instead of each of us highlighting our four articles on camera. Obviously we were hoping to make up for it with the visual entertainment.

EDCI 371 Week 3

In reading the Voogt et al. (2018) article, I was struck by how measured her writing was in addressing technology in education. This was refreshing in the face of the inundation of articles espousing the “amazing” opportunities that technology offers students in their learning. What we as teachers all know and understand is that technology, whether it is a pencil or a smart phone, is a tool to help people. Technology itself does not “make” a person learn – it requires a user’s input to be useful. Voogt et al. also allows for uncertainty in making broad statements about the effectiveness of technology in education. For example, Voogt writes, “Research now clearly shows that digital technologies can support students to engage collaboratively to become innovative and creative and in the creation of new knowledge and the development of new skills (Ito et al. 2013; Scardamalia and Bereiter 2015). It is still the case, however, that many young people use new technologies only to consume information.” (my italics) Voogt et al. (2018)

I also appreciated that this was a comparison both of the first and second editions of the Handbook of Information Technology in Primary and Secondary Education, as well as the changes in technology in that ten year time span.

From the University of Amsterdam website, part of the biography for Dr. Voogt says, “Voogt also researches in what way and under what conditions ICT can increase the appeal, efficiency and/or effectiveness of education. A focus area of her research is the professional development of the teacher. This is because teachers – irrespective of whether they have just completed their teacher training programme or have extensive teaching experience – have been inadequately trained to use ICT for teaching and learning, and ICT applications are not always compatible with the educational views of teachers and schools. Her research on the integration of ICT in education and teacher professional development focuses on co-designing and evaluating interventions that can help reduce the gap between the potential of ICT and the actual use of ICT in teaching practice.” (my bold) University of Amsterdam [Website]. (2013, November 11)

It is significant that Dr. Voogt sees that often, teachers do not have the adequate training to use ICT for teaching and learning. This means that it is not automatic that the technology would be used optimally or properly. A relevant recent example that is also personal, is when the Ministry of Education in B.C. brought in the New Curriculum for K-12. From a macro level of implementation, this was problematic. At the high school level, many significant changes happened, and in the English department, there was a complete overhaul. English 10 was no longer English 10, but divided into five possible streams: Composition, Literature, Creative Writing, Spoken, and New Media. Whereas the old English 10 was a normal, four-credit course, the new configuration split the five streams into two-credit courses. The idea would be that students would choose two “halves” and that teachers would have their teaching assignments split into streams that they wanted. Logistically for timetabling, this was a nightmare for the administration to work out. Optically, this was giving students “choice.” The reality was that “choice” was limited to what the teachers wanted to teach.

On a micro level, this was, except for the Literature stream, going to mean that entire new programs of curriculum had to be constructed by the teachers. For me personally, I decided to try teaching the New Media 10 course. I had used media in my classes many times, and incorporated a mini media unit as well. While the union bargained to accrue two “Curriculum Implementation” days per year to help in planning for the new courses, it was not nearly enough to create a new course from scratch. I found out almost immediately that I had neither the training, nor the time, to make well-planned, useful activities and assignments. I told the students that they were my “guinea pigs,” because I was trying most things out for the first time. This type of teaching and learning is unfair to all involved, but this is how the Ministry rolled out their vision – we decide, you figure it out. Still now, three years in, the New Curriculum courses in English are a mess. Every year, a new iteration is tried because the last one did not work. And who loses? The students.


Shifting now to the other articles, as there was a good discussion on Tuesday about the merits of SAMR. In reading Hamilton, E.R., Rosenberg, J.M. & Akcaoglu, M. (2016), I began to see how the SAMR model is not exclusive to technology, especially as it applies to the classroom. In the article, the example used for Redefinition, which was to have students make a video instead of writing a persuasive essay, could be achieved without technology. That is, it could have be acted out live in front of the class instead of using the technology of the video camera and editing programs.

Certainly in many classrooms, teachers are implementing all levels of the SAMR model, depending on the content. In the end, the questions to be answered are, “How does this affect the students’ learning?” and “How do we measure the students’ learning?” Is success measured in measurable outcomes, like quizzes and tests? What if those results are not seen in the time period allotted for a course? What if a student really absorbs the material after the course is over? Is that not success?


The “limitations” of SAMR are addressed in TPACK. As Mishra et al. (2009) state, the interactions between content, pedagogy and technology produce a different “product” or activity each time. And on top of the three main factors, one needs to acknowledge “students” as another factor. The best marriage of content, pedagogy and technology will not be successful without student active participation.

Moving forward

As teachers we are progressing through a time of change in both how technology is changing what we do, but also how society views technology both inside and outside the classroom. If society is a reflection of technology, then the open and free nature of the internet has forced societies to be more open and free. As this trickles down into the classroom, there is much unease with that open and free nature pushing the teacher’s place and status. What we are seeing is a pushing back; teachers are seeing that the freedom that comes with having technology (having a smartphone with access to the internet) is not always beneficial. Again, from a personal perspective, I employ a “phone caddy,” which is a holder for student phones at the front of the class. By having students putting their phones in the caddy at the beginning of class, they have more time to spend on what is happening in class, rather than what is happening on their phones. Why is this necessary? Why not have them leave their phones in their backpacks or pockets? That is an obvious answer.

EDCI 571 Week 2

An observation:

This reminds me of a court room cross-examination. It would go something like this:

Kozma (the defendant):   “Media influences learning.”

Clark (the prosecutor):   “Are you asserting that a student could learn better from, say a computer program, than a human?”

Kozma:   “Yes.”

Clark:  “What if the teacher taught in the exact same way as the computer? Would the student learn more by the computer?”

Kozma:  “Maybe not more, but probably faster.”

Clark:  “Aha! But the student would still learn the same.

Kozma:  “Yes, but faster.”

Clark:  “Let’s not get sidetracked by speed. Regardless of teacher versus computer, if the method of instruction were the same, would the student learn the material?”

Kozma:  “Yes, but…”

Clark:  “Just answer the question.”

Kozma:  “Yes.”

Clark:  “No further questions.”

Kozma:  “Can I just say that I have some clairvoyant tendencies, and that the media we have now is not what we will have in the future. I think it presumptuous to think that media in 1993 will be the same as in, say, 2019. I agree that based on what we have now for media, it may not influence learning, but in the future, we may be interacting with media in ways that we deem impossible now. And those ways may not be replicated any other way, including by humans. So we may not have flying cars, but we may have telephones that are also TVs, and computers, and who knows what else! And they may provide learning environments never seen before, in a completely unique way. Just you wait!

Clark:  “You’re crazy.”

End scene

To be fair, Clark is a product of his time. In 1983, his assertion was applicable, and his meta-analysis was looking at many other studies over years (years which, while many developments in media happened, the change was much slower, leading up to his originally published paper in 1983).

As for Kozma, in the decade that followed from 1983, not only did the hardware of computer technology increase dramatically, but so did the software. By 1991 software had become more interactive, and more for the masses. As for hardware, having a computer was less and less a luxury, and more and more standard electronics in the house. This is an important shift that was not present in 1983. However that fact does not negate Clark’s argument; it merely softens its rigid stance. Kozma believed that media was changing, and that technology was going to allow for different ways to learn that did not yet exist. His writing is eerily prophetic now: “In the not-too-distant future, we will be faced with a situation where telephone, cable television, and digital computer technologies will merge (Information Infrastructure Task Force, 1993; Stix, 1993). This capability presents the prospect of interactive video integrated to large multimedia data bases among people in offices, classrooms, and living rooms all over the world.” (Kozma, 1994). He goes on to (sadly) accurately give warning about the dangers of not capitalizing on the immense learning potential of the future technological systems: “If by then we have not come to understand the relationship between media and learning-if we have not forged a relationship between media and learning-this capability may be used primarily for interactive soap operas and on-line purchasing of merchandise with automatic funds transfer.” (Kozma, 1994) That sounds like Netflix, Amazon, and Facebook!

By 2010, when Becker re-examined the Clark-Kozma debate, enough time had elapsed to see which point of view passed the test of time. Clearly Kozma seemed like a modern-day Nostradamus. But not so fast! The question still remained, because Clark’s argument was specific to media’s influence on learning. Even Becker had to acknowledge that, “In spite of various volleys back and forth by Clark, Kozma, and others there remains no conclusive evidence that any one medium is more effective than any other (Becker’s italics).” (Becker, 2010) Throughout Becker’s article, she focuses squarely on Clark, and gives Kozma barely passing reference. Based on the focus on Clark over Kozma, the title of the article really should be, “The Clark debate in the 21st Century.”

How have things changed in the ten or so years since the Becker article? As media pertains to computers and computer technology, there may be programs that allow a person to learn more even when method of instruction is accounted for. An example that may refute Clark’s argument may be in the use of theoretical mathematics. We now have computer programs that can work out computations that would take entire human lifetimes to work out. Having the ability to input data and receive results that would further aid in learning to solve a theoretical problem would support the claim that the method of instruction would be the same whether the computation were done by hand or by computer, but the use of the computer influenced the learning.  The student could not proceed in learning because he or she would die before the computation could be answered by hand. Thus, the computer is necessary for learning.

In 2015, Robinson and Bligh published an interview with Richard E. Clark in which he maintains that, “We continue to waste huge amounts of scarce education resources on the expectation that the use of a new technology will solve learning problems.” (Robinson & Bligh, 2015) There is truth in his observation, but that may still change. Imagine a computer powerful enough to analyze a problem and offer a solution that humans would not think of? Is it possible for computers to think that independently? We are seeing more and more evidence of a computer that learns from its own mistakes to change its approach. Even when humans try to be unorthodox, we now have programs that learn from that. Recently, in 2016, AlphaGo defeated the world champion Go player, Lee Sedol in what was touted as historically more significant than Deep Blue defeating Garry Kasparov at chess. In 2017, AlphaGo Zero made the next step, which was to master the game of Go without human input. It is now realistically possible to expect that a computer will find a solution to a human problem like learning, and the solution would be unique to any previous human method.

Of course to be critical of Clark is to have the benefit of hindsight. Having seen a revolution in educational technology means that Clark’s argument seems trite and irrelevant in 2019. At the time however, in 1983, and in 1991, his argument was more relevant. The limitations of learning through the media available at the time were clearer then. Now, advancements in artificial intelligence and programming mean that the medium of computers provides experiences in learning that were previously impossible.

In way of analogy, I can relay an example from my classroom. For many years I used the novel, Animal Farm for one of my novel study books. Of course I would also show the movie version at the end of the unit. In fact, there are two movie versions – one is from 1954 and the other from 1999. These movies are significant because the original novel was published in 1945, just at the end of World War 2.  Since the character of Napoleon was modeled after Josef Stalin, when the novel ends, the fate of the animals is very much up in the air, but it does not look good. Since the pigs begin to resemble the humans, the dictatorship of Farmer Jones, or Czar Nicolas, has just been replaced by the dictatorship of Napoleon, or Stalin. That’s where the story ends.

Significantly, the first movie version came out the year after Stalin died, in 1954. In that movie version, the ending is changed slightly. The pigs do begin to resemble the humans as in the novel, but the director added one more part – in seeing the transformation, the rest of the animals begin a collective charge against the pigs. This was wishful thinking on the part of the filmmakers that the people of the Soviet Union would rise up against the now Stalin-less leaders, and it finishes the movie on a somewhat positive note that the original novel could not have, as Stalin was still very much alive and in firm control in 1945.

When the second movie version came out, in 1999, the communist regime had run its course, ending in 1989. In this version, the ending is completely different – not only is there the glimmer of hope that the animals might rise against the pigs, but they successfully do, and symbolically the skies clear and there is a dawning of a new day at Animal Farm. This ending could not have been possible in 1954 or 1945. It is only possible because the director had the perspective of hindsight from which to see what had transpired in the 55 years following the original date of publication. The novel was true for its time, and the subsequent movies were true for their times even though they veered away from the original ending.

So I agree with Clark based on his observations at the time. As for those assertions through a 2019 lens, I am not as convinced, given how media has changed since 1983. While I believe that media is a tool for learning, I also believe that there may be ways that media can be used in unique ways to aid in learning that other methods cannot reproduce.

EDCI 571 Week 1 Blog

Back to school…back to blogging. Time to stretch those intellectual muscles again, after a few weeks of atrophy. Given the number of articles to read and information contained therein, I will not dissect, as much as interpret and apply, as they pertain to me.

Article 1 –  “Top 10 K-12 Educational Technology Trends.”

Before going too far, I reflect on what Dr. Thom stressed, and what most researchers would do when reading critically: know the author. That is, who is writing the articles? What is their background? What biases are they bringing to their writing? With that in mind, I look at Steven Lahullier and want to know what the Robert Gordon School in New Jersey is like. Is it affluent? Is it Inner City? Just that information can reveal a lot about his article. As a “trend,” is his list more a reflection of schools with money? That is maybe more important to know than the items on the list.

Article 2 – ISTE “The 9 hottest topics in edtech”

Again, to begin, this article is from the International Society for Technology in Education website. At the very bottom, Julie Randles does write that, “This list of hot edtech topics emerged from a review of thousands of educator-created sessions submitted for the 2018 ISTE Conference & Expo.” While I am consciously aware that being critical does not mean being negative, this organization obviously has a bias towards technology in education. The fact that the “hot edtech topics” came from the organization’s Conference and Expo does not necessarily grant it validity. Reliability, yes.

Having said all that, the topics are not without merit. However, as topics under the heading “edtech,” a full five of the nine are not exactly tech dependent. The topics of “AR, VR, and Mixed Reality,” and “Artificial Intelligence,” and “Digital Citizenship” may have direct connections to technology in education, but even “Computational Thinking” would be on the periphery. The others, like “Global Learning” and “Learning Sciences” are all valuable trends, but they are not dependent on technology to achieve their goals.

Article 3 – “Top 6 Educational Technology Trends Right Now”

By now, in this third article, it has become apparent that even when the writers are not explicitly saying that technology is making education better, the implicit messages are there. In this article, while I agree with the assertion that speech-to-text capabilities can greatly benefit some students and their learning, the writer states at the end of the section that it, “makes note taking and writing even more comfortable and fast-paced.” We are to infer that “comfortable” and “fast-paced” equals better, and that it likely improves student achievement. Certainly, “Cloud Computing” has changed student access to material, and the interactiveness of collaborating on writing a single document, but other problems arise when students and teachers are having to deal with cross-platform differences and incompatibility.

Article 4 – “The Biggest Education Technology Trends for 2019”

The first article to acknowledge that technology in education is there to enhance, not to replace. At the same time, the five trends listed all address a segment of the student population, certainly not the majority. As an example, “Remote Learning” traditionally, and currently would likely only apply to specific cases, like a student who is too incapacitated to come to school, or lives too far away. In both cases, there would be an adult around to be able to supervise and take care of the student. This is not a solution that working parents would agree to – that is, having a child remain home to do his or her schooling independently without supervision. At best, remote learning may work when parents can be present, which then becomes home-schooling.

Article 5 – “Technology in Education 2019: 5 Trends to Watch”

The article begins tepidly, by looking at predictions of the future with some reserve. In quoting Isaac Asimov, Quin Parker makes the point that, “predictions of future technology fail when they suggest that technology replaces, rather than reforms and reorients, human relationships.” This observation may apply to all of the articles that are cited here. For all of the trends and looks into the future of the workforce and needs, these must be tempered with the fact that the future does not always unfold in the way that people predict. Isaac Asimov being a case in point. He did accurately predict some things, but was far off on others. A good recent example would be the recent celebration of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. Many people expected in 1969 that 50 years later would see major advancements in space travel and that in 2019 humans would have colonized Mars. New industries would have been created and the jobs of the future would entail much more need for aerospace expertise. In terms of technology in education, this may follow a similar path – that is, the leaps that are expected may be slower and in a different direction than predicted.

Article 6 – “2019 EdTech Trends You Should Be Excited About”

Back to the first observation about who the author is, Brandon Jarman is listed as a freelance education and technology journalist. What is his connection to education? With the benefit of the doubt, I will acknowledge that his points are possible. That is, his sixth trend, “Adaptive Learning” can eventually happen in a regular classroom but this is a long way away from 2019. The use of technology to customize learning is limited in its focus only on the individual student, and not the interactions between students and between student and teacher.

Article 7 – Holland and Holland “Implications of Shifting Technology in Education”

This article is almost a summary of the “trends” articles, in that it examines the various ways that technology affects and enhances education. From looking at Problem-based learning and Inquiry learning, to Globalization and Active hands-on learning, Holland and Holland examine how technology makes those aspects better. At the same time, there is a criticism of post-secondary pedagogy and its rigidity and unchanging approach to education. It is almost a call to action, to challenge both public schools and universities and colleges to move to a more rich, personalized experience for students. The key difficulty in putting secondary and post-secondary students in the same learning category is that post-secondary students have chosen to attend, and thus have motivation to learn. As well, they are older and more mature in their outlook, which affects their educational journey. Students in the public system require a much more nuanced approach, and this cannot be left entirely to them to guide.

Personal reflection

In my high school, which is considered Inner City, students tend not to come from affluent homes. Certainly there are many devices, but a general look at my roughly 90 students this semester would reveal about 15%, or 3 out of 20 who don’t have phones (for a variety of reasons, to be clear). As for the 1:1 ratio, we are nowhere near that, and according to our part-time tech person – who must split his time between a few schools because funding is not there to employ him full time at one school – our school is better than many, and we have about 1:2 ratio. When budget time comes and each department scrambles to get their “needs” and an occasional “want,” technology (arguably a “need”) is bumped up at the expense of some other “need.” Maybe that is new mats for PE, or lab equipment in Science rooms. Whatever the item, someone must give for the school to get, when it comes to technology. We do not begrudge this, because it is “the way of the future.” Climb on board or be left behind. There is a certain amount of “FOMO,” or “Fear Of Missing Out” behind the technology push, and it drives the sales of devices and software so each person can have the “latest.” A device that uses iOS 6 is no longer supported, and cannot access new apps. Windows 7 will no longer be updated. If you own a device that is over five years old, you will be limited in using it because the software will eventually become redundant.

This is all to say that in a ideal world, the trends and technology would generate amazing results. Mine is not an ideal world, but we do the best with what we have.

withdrawal (or shell shock)

I finished my final blog post, and all I could think of was, “Have I done everything? I think I might have forgotten to do something. Was I supposed to include a reference list on that final blog post? Better check the course outline, AGAIN (for the twentieth time). I’d better go back through my published blogs…let’s see, one for each class for each week, that’s 6. One presentation and one blog for each, that’s 8. One final blog post, that’s 9. Is that it? Better check again. Did I actually publish those posts, or are they still in draft form? No, I did publish them. Hmm…I guess…I’m done. Weird. Wait! I didn’t comment on enough other posts! Is it too late? Probably. Or not. I’ll do it tomorrow. Or now. Tomorrow. Maybe.”

Okay, just stop. Let it go. Get on with your summer.

Update. It’s 2am (really!) and I feel like Lawrence’s reference to HAL: I am a short-circuiting robot who is overheating from too much data and not enough storage, and my output is getting garbled. I am spitting out random words like (think old monotone computer voice…not Alexa) phenomenology…ethics…computer cat…autoethnography…inquiry…inquiry…inquiry…seamless…4Rs…breakout room…PLN…doodle poll…Trevor’s ceiling…Trellodiigohypothes.isslackzoterotwitterbluejeansfeedlywordpress…tiegrad…………..tiegr…….tie…t. Goodbye Dave.

How do I unplug this thing?

Final Blog Post…well not FINAL Final, but for the summer.

Reflections on EDCI 515 and EDCI 568: A Culinary Analogy

An illustration of how the last three weeks have gone may be seen in reference to food. That is, for twelve class sessions we as students have been treated to two complete meals (with appetizer, main course, and dessert) each day. Each of the EDCI 515 and 568 menus has followed a particular theme, distinct from each other, and each menu consisted of a variety of dishes from its theme, from hot and spicy, to savoury, to sweet, to occasionally bland (in a good way). 🙂

“Superior sushi set” by jeremydeades is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Each day, we were treated and were asked to eat each meal, to go home to digest, and to prepare for the meal the next day by studying the next day’s recipes. At the end of each day we felt stuffed full of yummy food, perhaps wanting to let the flavours linger on our taste buds, but knowing that we had to be ready for the next day’s offerings.

By the end of the first week or so, we came to realize that we were really only supposed to sample the meals, not to eat them entirely every time. Our bodies could not possibly recover in time to eat two more complete meals again each day, so we learned to appreciate each meal for what it was, to write a review of the food, and to move on.

At the end, we were asked to reflect on how those meals contributed to our understanding of meal preparation and to look forward to how we might prepare our own meal. Would it be spicy? Savoury? Salty? Sweet? A mixture? Some already know what that meal will look like. Others have no idea, but are getting closer. Since each person’s meal will not be served for about 18 months, we have lots of time to prepare, but we are cautioned not to leave that menu item preparation until the last minute. It will take time to gather the ingredients, do the prep work of chopping, slicing and dicing, and to assemble the right utensils for the type of dish we are preparing. We look forward to the smorgasbord, and hope it is to your liking.

EDCI 515 and EDCI 568

photo used with permission – yes that’s me

The scientist in all of us likes to see positive results from our experiments. We like to put our theories into practice, to test our hypotheses and observe the effects. When it comes to education and education theories, it is no different. In the classroom a teacher may wonder, “If I try this activity, will students understand the concept better? Will it produce better result on assessments? Can I observe mastery of the skill?” and then test the theory, and track the results. If the results are not positive, the teacher may not do that activity again, or modify it to better address what hindered student achievement.

The difficulty with the scientific method is that it is not always appropriate for the type of questions being asked. If the question is “Which activity will allow student A to understand the concept better?” then the experiment and results look very different. Results may not apply to any other student, so no definitive conclusion may be made regarding the “right” activity a teacher might use.

How does this relate to me? I have my feet firmly planted in both camps. I often think of an activity, try it out in class, and decide whether it yielded the results I expected. The results further inform my use of that activity or approach. On the other hand (foot), I also guide students through the process of exploring their interests in a topic to find the connections to the course contents. One approach is not “better” than the other; they each have strengths and weaknesses, depending on what the question being asked is.

Perhaps, as we have seen in our look at different methodology, a mixed methods approach is appropriate for me. Or at the very minimum, using both methods independently, according to the situation. As I have noted before, with a background in psychology I am acutely aware that when dealing with humans and studies on human behaviour or thinking, achieving 1.0 correlation of data is impossible – unless it is biologically rooted, like whether humans can survive without blood. So the take-away is that even the most successful theories of education will apply to most (if that) of the population. It would be a disservice to our students for all teachers to use the same approach, regardless of what the research says. Unless that research on a particular approach to learning comes in at 1.0 correlation, it is not the answer for all. So as teacher-researcher, I must be aware that in a given time with a particular group of students, I aim to get the best out of each one, knowing that some methods will work better than others. At the same time, there will be factors out of my control, for example home life or misuse of drugs (especially in high school), that will prevent that student from engaging even if the methodology is perfect for them.

What I see moving forward is that in the pursuit of a Master’s of Education I will need to investigate research methodology more deeply first, then look to the one that best addresses the questions whose answers I am pursuing. At the moment I see qualitative study as the approach best suited to the question I am looking at right now. That is, “What role does school climate or connectedness have to play in students’ academic success or social engagement at school?”

EDCI 515

In looking at phenomenology as a research approach, I began to see my own research question framed by a phenomenological point of view. Perhaps, as I initially looked for research that produced causality, I was doing the “square peg, round hole” type of thinking; trying to push my research question into a quantitative framework that was not the right fit. As I read more and more about phenomenology, I came to understand that that was the square hole into which my square peg was fitting. However, even though methodologically this was a better fit, I am left to answer the question that my research poses: So what? Qualitative research yields results, but what do you do with that information? If hypothetically my research yields results that say that teacher-student relationships greatly contribute to a feeling of school connectedness, what is to be done with that information? That is, so what? If I decide to try to make my interactions with students better so they have an increased connection to the school, how important is that? By what measure do I consider what is “important”? Are grades important? Is attendance? Is participation? Is long-term attitude towards life-long learning? Yes, the results are informative, but again, so what? Am I researching for research’s sake? How does this inform my practice?

What may be necessary is a reframing of the question including a different demographic of subjects. Rather than looking at subjects who are in school, it may be better served to interview subjects who are in their 20s or 30s, asking them to reflect on their connectedness in high school and how that impacted their current lives. This keeps the qualitative nature of the research but tries to address the influence in the long term, outside of the direct high school experience itself.

EDCI 568

The central question that Jeff Hopkins and Trevor Mackenzie have looked at answering is, “How do we design learning around the student instead of the teacher?” For Jeff Hopkins the answer was, after trying with limited success within the system, to go outside of the system and to literally construct a school that addressed that question. For Trevor Mackenzie, the answer was to stay within the system and look at learning design within the confines of the structure that is in place. At the heart of both approaches is Inquiry-Based Learning, which gives students ownership over their process. While the concept of inquiry as methodological approach is not new (John Dewey, 1938), it has gained momentum as educators look to make learning more individualized. Given that I am a teacher in the public education system, radical changes such as Jeff Hopkins has made, cannot be made at my level; those are structural, at an administration, senior administration, or Ministry of Education level. What I can implement is at Trevor Mackenzie’s level: in my individual classroom.

As noted in the above section, like all approaches, it is not a one-size-fits-all methodology. It has its benefits, but when dealing with humans, it may work for many, but not all, or at least all the time. Given that, it is a tool to use when it suits the time and the students. For educators, it is vital to consider using this approach because it has clear benefits to student learning, and I will use this information to guide future projects in my classes.

The other major side of the course load included a focus on engaging with the digital world of education. One of the biggest take-aways from this focus was a heightened awareness of the rights and responsibilities of education online. Having taught the New Media 10 course, in hindsight I did not do my due diligence in preparing students (or myself) on FIPPA or BC’s Digital Framework as an introduction to the course.  This is not limited to the New Media 10 course, as students and teachers need to know that any assignment or project that requires their presence online must keep those guidelines in mind.

photo used with (my) permission

Regarding that last point, in my blog submissions for these courses, after seeing the dangers of overstepping privacy concerns, I made decisions not to include images or video that might identify students or staff. As a result, the blog posts look quite sterile; devoid of personality. I could add creative commons images or video, but I still regard them as devoid of personality, or at least a personal touch. So the result is a “better safe than sorry” approach that, while cautious and better than heedless, is legitimately constrained. I leave the personal touch to wearing costumes. 🙂

568 Presentation

568 Presentation and Critical Reading of One Course Reading

Reading – School Climate and Academic Achievement in Middle and High School Students


This study (Daily, Mann, Kristjansson, Smith, & Zullig, 2019) builds on previous studies on school climate and academic achievement that found a positive school climate may promote academic achievement and well-being. To look at this relationship further, the authors used a measurement called the School Climate Measure (SCM) (Zullig, Koopman, Patton, & Ubbes, 2010) to further break down the term, “school climate” into ten domains, and thus identify specifically which domain had more influence than others on self-reported academic achievement in English and Math. The student population in the study was comprised of middle and high school students in a mid-Atlantic U.S. state. Students were given a survey to complete, and answers were grouped according to the SCM domains.

The study was a quantitative look at identifying which domains had the largest effects on academic achievement in English and Math self-reporting of grades. The sample size was large (n=2405) which allowed for a fair representation of the general student population. The ten different domains used in the SCM were:

  1. Positive Student-Teacher Relationships
  2. Order and Safety
  3. Opportunities for Student Engagement
  4. School Physical Environment
  5. Academic Support
  6. Parental Involvement
  7. School Connectedness
  8. Perceived Exclusion/Privilege
  9. School Social Environment
  10. Academic Satisfaction

(Zullig, Koopman, Patton, & Ubbes, 2010)


Their findings indicated that the effects are small to medium, and that for both middle (Table 2) and high school (Table 3), Academic Support had the highest effect, although it was a medium effect (13% of the SCM variance for middle, and 17% of the SCM variance for high school). Among the next highest for both groups were Academic Satisfaction (11% middle, 12% high) and Positive Student-Teacher Relationships (10% middle, 12% high). As for noted limitations to the study and the findings, one limitation as noted by the authors was that the ethnic demographic was predominantly white. The results may look different with a student population that is more ethnically diverse. As well, grades were self-reported, so the risk of skewed memory and bias needed to be considered.

Personal and Professional connection to the paper

The personal and professional connection to the paper revolves around the idea of “school spirit.” Outside the classroom there are many factors that can affect a student’s academic achievement. According to the domains of the SCM from a teacher’s point of view, the factors that a teacher may affect are “positive student-teacher relationships; academic support, school connectedness; order and safety; and academic satisfaction.” Of the preceding list, the aspects that resonate personally are the socially themed, “positive teacher-student relationships” and, “school connectedness.” While the domains are not specifically defined, what may be gleaned regarding their scope can be seen in the questions that were in the survey. According to the SCM survey, the categories broke down to the following groups of statements:


Factor 1: Positive Student–Teacher Relationships

Teachers understand my problems

Teachers and staff seem to take a real interest in my future

Teachers are available when I need to talk with them

It is easy to talk with teachers

Students get along well with teachers

At my school, there is a teacher or some other adult who notices when I’m not there

Teachers at my school help us children with our problems

My teachers care about me

My teacher makes me feel good about myself


Factor 2: School Connectedness

My schoolwork is exciting

Students can make suggestions on courses that are offered

Students are publicly recognized for their outstanding performances in speech, drama, art, music, etc.

If this school had an extra period during the day, I would take an additional academic class

This school makes students enthusiastic about learning

Students are frequently rewarded or praised by faculty and staff for following school rules

(Adapted from Zullig, Koopman, Patton, & Ubbes, 2010, Table 2)

Research Topic

School climate and its effect on student academic achievement.

While there are many theories about methods of teacher instruction and student learning that contribute to student academic achievement, this topic concerns those factors outside the classroom (which may or may not include direct contact with the teacher), that may also contribute to academic achievement. While others have focused on connectedness and student health (McNeely & Falci, 2004), this is concerned more with academic achievement.

Research Problem

How can school climate contribute to increased student academic achievement?

The difficulty in trying to find causality with these two subjects is that school climate at best, has a moderate direct effect on student academic achievement (Daily, Mann, Kristjansson, Smith, & Zullig, 2019). What is more likely is that school climate has an indirect effect, and the long term results of the benefits of school climate may not be seen for years afterward. Nonetheless, the question may still be addressed in the moment by connecting school climate with positive student attitude towards schooling, which may then lead to increased academic achievement. In the Daily et al. study, while the effects were not high, there was a significant increase in self-reported academic achievement.

Purpose of interest

The purpose of my interest in this topic is to determine whether active efforts to create a positive school climate makes a significant impact on academic achievement of high school students. This may lead to a greater emphasis on school administration and school staff working on “school spirit” as much as pedagogy.

As a teacher who not only likes to inject energy into a class, but moves beyond the classroom to all areas, both physical and metaphorical, of the school, I am interested in knowing whether those efforts have a tangible outcome in students’ lives. While the effects of wearing a costume in school may create school spirit in the moment, how does this affect students’ achievement, or sense of belonging/ connection/ community, mental health, or future attitude towards education?

Future research questions

Among the many questions that arise from this inquiry are whether it is the job of the teacher to do this work, and what factors create the greatest increase in academic achievement? What expectations should be placed on the school to monitor school climate? 



Daily, S. M., Mann, M. J., Kristjansson, A. L., Smith, M. L., & Zullig, K. J. (2019). School Climate and Academic Achievement in Middle and High                      School Students. Journal of School Health, 89(3), 173–180.

McNeely, C., & Falci, C. (2004). School Connectedness and the Transition Into and Out of Health-Risk Behavior Among Adolescents: A                                   Comparison of Social Belonging and Teacher Support. Journal of School Health, 74(7), 284–292.                                       1561.2004.tb08285.x

Nye, B., Konstantopoulos, S., & Hedges, L. (2004). How Large Are Teacher Effects? Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis,26(3), 237-257.                        Retrieved from

Zullig, K. J., Koopman, T. M., Patton, J. M., & Ubbes, V. A. (2010). School Climate: Historical Review, Instrument Development, and School                             Assessment. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 28(2), 139–152.


515 Presentation and Critical Reading of One Course Reading

Max van Manen and Phenomenology


Born in the Netherlands in 1942, Max van Manen received his teaching qualifications before emigrating to Canada and to Edmonton, Alberta in 1967, at 25 years of age. He taught in the Edmonton Public School system and continued with post-graduate study, receiving his MEd in 1971, and PhD in 1973 in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. He married and became a Canadian citizen also in 1973.

Professionally, Dr. Van Manen is now a professor emeritus, having retired in 2008 after 35 years from his three years at the University of Toronto from 1973-76, and at the University of Alberta from 1976-2008. He also was directly connected to UVic in the 1980s and 90s as a visiting professor, teaching the summer graduate program in the Faculty of Education.

Dr. van Manen’s focus on phenomenology continued in some form for the rest of his research career. He began with the idea of researching “lived experience.” The next phase was marked by a focus on pedagogical reflections, thoughtfulness and tact, linking the practice of research and the practice of writing. Phase three focused on identity and inwardness through the process of writing. This led to the culmination of his focus, which was the phenomenology of writing. The last two phases maintained the writing focus, but turned towards the burgeoning world of the internet and the new “world” of writing, and the “The unsuspected power of written words, in virtual space, to create complex and meaningful interpersonal relations,” (

What is phenomenology?

Phenomenology is a philosophical term that aims to describe behaviour in the now, as lived experience. It does not seek to look for cause or to have preconceptions but to examine the human experience as it is. When there is interpretation of that “phenomena” it becomes hermeneutic phenomenology, and when it is descriptive, it is transcendental phenomenology.

How might this look in more concrete terms?

Phenomenological methodology relies mostly on interviews with participants. The type of research question would be asking what the participant’s experience is with the topic being studied as it can be determined through the responses to the interview, or through looking at what is written down, like in a blog or tweet.

In our chat with, and readings of, George Veletsianos, we might see his article, “Women scholars’ experiences with online harassment and abuse: Self-protection, resistance, acceptance, and self-blame,” (Veletsianos, Houlden, Hodson, & Gosse, 2006) as an example of phenomenological methodology. He was examining the experience of online harassment of female scholars through interviews. This qualitative study also used few participants, another aspect of phenomenological research. Importance is placed not on whether there is a change in behaviour or how different variables affect the outcome of the participants’ behaviour, but rather, to discover what themes might be extrapolated from the interviews as an examination of the participants’ experience with harassment.


Chosen research article:

School Climate and Academic Achievement in Middle and High School Students

Shay M. Daily, PhD, MPH, MCHES  Michael J.Mann, PhD Alfgeir L. Kristjansson, PhD Megan L. Smith, PhD Keith J. Zullig,MSPH, PhD,FAAHB, FASHA


This study focused on a large sample (n=2405) of students whose academic achievement, measured by self-reported grades in the previous year’s Math and English courses, was compared with their level of school climate, using the School Climate Measure (SCM). The SCM is reported to have validity, “across several geographically diverse populations, including important demographic characteristics such as students age, sex, race, grade-level, ethnicity, and self-reported grade point average (GPA)” (Zullig KJ, Collins R, Ghani N, et al., 2015).

As stated, the purpose of the study was, “to determine the associations between the SCM domains and academic achievement among middle and high school students” (Daily, Mann, Kristjansson, Smith, & Zullig, 2019). The hypotheses were there would be a significant association with the SCM domains and academic achievement, although a difference would occur between middle and high school students, and secondly, that Non-academic factors, including biological sex, mother’s education, and family structure would significantly interact with achievement.

In collecting the data, students anonymously filled out a 262-item questionnaire which took 30-45 minutes to complete. Students were free to answer all or part of the survey, and to opt out at any time.

In discussing the results of the study, the data analysis suggested that middle and high school students who reported positive levels of school climate also reported higher academic performance. The highest factor of the SCM domains for both middle and high school students was Academic Support.

In pointing out the study’s limitations, there was acknowledgement that the schools’ demographic populations were predominantly white, and that the data on grades was self-reported, which may contain recall bias.

Concluding remarks focused on a breakdown of the discrete domains of the SCM to better see how individually identified factors such as Academic Support can better serve students in achieving higher academic success.

Phenomenological approach to this study: How and Why would it look different?

From a phenomenological perspective, the research question that the chosen article asks would change from, “Is there a connection between school climate and academic achievement in middle and high school students?” to, “What are your middle and high school experiences regarding school climate?” The data to be collected would shift from the predetermined SCM domains to an examination of the themes that result from the participants answering the question. This shift is a result of the phenomenological perspective of examining the lived experience; that is, the students’ experience with school climate. The results of the themes or factors that can be isolated can then be checked for correlation to academic achievement post hoc.


For the researcher – in the original study, the researchers hypothesize that there would be a positive correlation between school climate and academic achievement based on the School Climate Measure and self-reported grades in English and Math.

The phenomenological researcher – the phenomenological researcher must not be looking for cause or come with preconceptions about the outcome. It is in the interpretation of the data about the students’ experience that the researcher analyzes.

For the research – the original research, while trying to determine factors predetermined by the School Climate Measure, also looked at three predetermined non-academic factors of biological sex, mother’s education, and family structure. As a quantitative study, emphasis is on whether factors are statistically significant, and by how much.

Phenomenological research is qualitative in that it describes rather than quantifies, so this study would not be able to process 2405 participants’ responses. The number of participants would need to decrease down to ten to twenty since it would be likely that patterns would emerge at that point which would make further interviews redundant. As well, as the questioning would be more open-ended, a phenomenological approach would not likely result in easily categorized responses.

For the researched – the original participants were given much leeway in the completion of the questionnaire in that they did not have to answer all the questions and could opt out at any time. With a 262-item questionnaire, the types of questions would likely not require much depth of thoughtfulness in response or it would take hours instead of the 30-45 minutes in the study.

The Researched in a phenomenological setting would remain as the demographic but the type of engagement in the gathering of data would require participants who would need to respond with thought and care. Questions would be fewer, but responses would be longer.

For the reader – the original article would, as the authors stated, be useful for policy makers in determining how to allocate funds to improve school climate to address academic achievement. As well, for stakeholders such as teachers, students and parents, the results may guide practice for teachers, guide student involvement in school affairs, and guide parents in encouraging their children’s connection to the school.

Phenomenologically, the same readers would benefit, from the policy makers to the stakeholders, but as the information would not easily be transferable, the interpretation for this group of participants may not look the same for another group in another part of the country or different ethnic, economic, gender, or other defining feature of the group.


What began as a struggle to conceptualize the term, “phenomenology,” only gained clarity as the writing of this assignment progressed. Many of the explanations of the term only seemed to wrap around themselves, with definitions like, “Phenomenology is the study of phenomena.” The best explanations tend to either bring the vocabulary down to lay terms or use real life examples that are relatable. Once I realized that I could use Dr. Veletsianos’s article from earlier in the class, it brought the term within reach.

At the same time, I still struggled with some of the examples and the research that Dr. van Manen used, especially as it pertained to online writing. I would need to immerse myself in the study or to watch the study being conducted (which is phenomenological in a way, as I observe the lived experience).


Daily, S. M., Mann, M. J., Kristjansson, A. L., Smith, M. L., & Zullig, K. J. (2019). School Climate and Academic Achievement in Middle and High

School Students. Journal of School Health, 89(3), 173–180.

Manen, M. V. (2007). Phenomenology of Practice. Phenomenology & Practice, 1(1).

Phenomenology Methods & Data Collection Center for Innovation in Research and Teaching. (n.d.). Retrieved July 22, 2019, from

Phenomenology Online » Hermeneutical Phenomenology. (n.d.). Retrieved July 22, 2019, from

Researching Lived Experience: Human Science for an Action Sensitive Pedagogy by Max van Manen, London, ON: Althouse Press, 1. (n.d.).

Retrieved July 22, 2019, from




Van Manen, M., & Adams, C. (2009). The Phenomenology of Space in Writing Online. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 41(1), 10–21.

Veletsianos, G., Houlden, S., Hodson, J., & Gosse, C. (2018). Women scholars’ experiences with online harassment and abuse: Self-protection,

resistance, acceptance, and self-blame. New Media & Society, 20(12), 4689–4708.

568 Week 3

Monday July 15

ReadingsDive into Inquiry (for the 6-12 educator) & Inquiry Mindset (for the K-5 educator)

GuestTrevor MacKenzie

Reflections – Trevor presented a good overview of Inquiry-Based Learning and its practical uses in the classroom. That he is both a Master’s student and a classroom teacher brings some level of solidarity to his talk. I have not read his Dive Into Inquiry book yet, but again, with someone in our cohort having the book already and referencing it lends more credence to its everyday use. This is not to say that other books are not useful, but knowing someone who has read the book and found it useful is a powerful statement.

“IMG_1047” by Lindy Buckley is licensed under CC BY 2.0 

I have done guided inquiry with success in the classroom, and will continue to explore how I can use it in other ways, especially in Japanese. As Trevor and most other instructors have pointed out, well-done Inquiry projects are guided, leading to free. There still needs to be checks and balances to keep students to a standard. At the same time, many assignments can incorporate elements of inquiry that allow students choice and acknowledgement of, and nurturing of, their passions.

Tuesday July 16

ReadingsThe Five R’s for Indigenizing Online Learning: A Case Study of the First Nations Schools’ Principals Course by Tessaro, Restoule, Gaviria, Flessa, Lindeman, & Scully-Stewart (2018)

GuestColin Madland

Reflections – Our two guests – 515 guest, Shauneen Pete, and 568 guest, Colin Madland – provided interesting perspectives on two issues connecting aspects of the Truth and Reconciliation report. As Dr. Pete pointed out, her call to action has been 30 years in the making. Her life’s work has been to change how the educational system, mostly centred on post-secondary, has not allowed for a substantive shift in incorporating Indigenous ways of teaching and learning. Colin Madland’s research and interests lie in bridging the gap between Indigenous ways of learning versus Online learning. Both guests are asking the question, “How can this be done?” At the heart of both perspectives is the acknowledgement that Indigenous ways of learning are different than the dominant settlers’ ways of learning. This does not mean “less than,” or that because it is different, that in a win/lose situation, that the Indigenous ways must bow to the dominant culture’s ways. So the challenge for Colin Madland is to find a way to blend the venn diagram in a way that keeps the Indigenous ways intact.

Wednesday July 17

Readings – In Public: The Shifting Consequences of Twitter Scholarship by Stewart (2015)

Guest – Bonnie Stewart

Reflections – On the one hand, there are many examples of Twitter gone bad; on the other hand, there are many examples of positive Twitter interactions. The reality is that all social media platforms have their positive and negative aspects. What all users of social media (and commenters of social media) must come to grips with, is that the power is in the hands (or fingertips) of the user. I can’t remember who brought up the TV analogy, but those who use or grew up with TV, got used to turning the channel until they found a program or station that they found to their liking, skimming over the “garbage” – or content that they disliked. One may argue that Twitter (and all social media) poses the same problems of navigation. Twitter scholarship can get very divisive and heated, but with the right people and attitude, it can be uplifting and full of growth.

Thursday July 18

Viewing – Education as if people mattered TEDxTalk by Jeff Hopkins

Guest – Jeff Hopkins

Reflections – I appreciated Jeff Hopkins coming to talk about PSII and his background. As I reflected about his talk over the next day, I came to a realization. This is not about the importance or relevance of the school he has set up, because it clearly has exceptional educational practises. This is about how humans receive information. Based on an understanding of human psychology, it is easier to change behaviour than it is to change beliefs. That is, it is easier to change what one does, than what one believes. In light of that, when anyone – and in this case, an educator – talks about a better way to do things, the approach is as important as the information itself. The person receiving that information can absorb the content in one of two ways: one, as a reflection of what he or she does, which can, without much effort, be changed quite easily; or two, as a reflection of who he or she is, or what he or she believes, which strikes much deeper, and is much more difficult to change. If the implied message is, “You are doing things wrong,” and the interpretation of that message is about what one does, then the response may be, “I will change my behaviour.” However, if the interpretation of that message is about who one is, or what one believes, then the response may be, “I must defend my core belief that I am a good person/teacher.” This is a protection of the ego, and it puts people on the defensive. Having said that, this is not an indictment about the worth or credibility of PSII or of Jeff Hopkins as an educator, but rather how he may broach the topic of changing the educational system, especially to teachers who are in the system. His information is valuable and necessary for growth, but as he acknowledged himself, he couldn’t affect wholesale change from within the system, which is why he got out. Of course there is no doubt we all came away from his talk with ideas on how to improve what we do.


My apologies for the post with nary an image or video (well, one). I am getting there (I searched the creative commons images and attributed the image! 🙂 ) but my energy mostly went into organizing my thoughts in time to post.



515 Week 3 Shorter, but full of yummy bits!

Intended to limit this to one focal point, but just had an epiphany (Saturday morning as I ate my cereal) so it is maybe one and a half points.

Film – Kitchen Stories – The first consideration to acknowledge is the obvious: this is a movie. It is a construct with actors playing roles, not a documentary with real people. Even so, as a representation of real life and an ethnographic sample of that culture, much can be gleaned, even though it is a construct. That aside, it would be interesting to read some reviews by native Norwegians or Swedes as to its representation and interpretation of the people and cultures.

What I took away from this movie is its focus on phenomenology and the problems therein. It is like a movie on a utopian society that reveals that utopia is impossible to attain. Phenomenology in human terms may be “truly” impossible to attain, especially in modern times. I say in modern times because we live in a world of consent, and that implies that the subject of study knows that he or she is being studied. That in and of itself contaminates the phenomenological nature of empirically studying human behaviour. This is the obvious comedic and ultimately tragic message of the movie. That is, Folke the observer, has influenced the outcome of the study by his presence in Isak’s kitchen. Isak no longer behaves “naturally” because he is conscious of being watched. So what is the point of studying and tracking single men’s movements in the kitchen when the men alter their behaviour because the observer is present? What possible conclusions can be made from the study’s original hypothesis? As Malmberg, the supervisor notes in frustration, if the observer talks to the subject, it derails the study. In the end, Ljungberg the research head sees that there may be other uses of the data collected, so the data takes the researchers in a different direction.

In terms of the four Rs, how does this relate?

The Research – The movie presented a Swedish study of Norwegian single men’s movements in the kitchen, presumably to compare against their data on Swedish women’s movements in the kitchen. The outcome was to inform the researchers on how to design a kitchen more efficiently so that less time and energy was spent moving around the kitchen space. This approach was phenomenological in nature in that its intention was to study “ordinary” life.

The Researcher – As researcher, this comes across as both a “how-not-to,” as well as a phenomenological, “slice-of-life” portrait of the realities of research. It literally brings to life what may lie behind the words and numbers on the pages of research studies. The abstract, advanced statistics and raw data of the studies have a very concrete, human component to them. We must look at the author, who in this case is Ljungberg. What is his background? Why is he doing this study?

The Researched – of the Norwegian men in the study, we only see Isak. We are presented with a figure who is hermit-like in his isolation, both physically on a farm by himself, as well as psychologically from other people. He interacts with one other person: Grant, with whom we see has a limited verbal interaction. While he has volunteered for the study, we find out that he did so only because they researchers promise to give him a horse at the end of the study. At the beginning he is clearly a reluctant participant. By altering his behaviour during the study, he negates the usefulness of the data gathered for its intended purpose.

The Reader – or viewer. As stated in class, the primary audience would be Norwegians or Swedes. They would be the best judges of whether this movie represented their typical cultural past (the 1950s) as well as the typical personalities and representations of relationships and attitudes. While we in North America may be able to relate to the human nature of the characters, we would miss a lot of the references and historical background and attitudes the Norwegians and Swedes have built over the centuries. However, as we look at the film’s examination of humanity in the world of science and experiments, it is not necessary to know all of the background to still come to some conclusions. What we learn is not exclusive to those who come from those countries. As the movie highlights the dangers and difficulties of research, we as viewers and ersatz researchers reflect on how that applies to both our own observations, as well as those whose studies we read and critique.

A realization – It occurred to me as I reflected on the different speakers we had this week for both 515 and 568, that Dr. Shauneen Pete and Jeff Hopkins had similar paths in different areas. Dr. Pete’s goal was to change the system from within, to reimagine the Indigenous curriculum and ways of teaching pre-service teachers. The challenge being to begin a wholesale change to a system that is very entrenched. Jeff Hopkins’s initial goal was to change the education system from within to make it more student-centred than teacher-centred. For both, a bit of the irresistible force meeting an immovable object. In the end, both found the object immovable, and decided to go over or around it.

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