"Educational Technology that Matters to Practitioners: The Promise of Educational Design Research"

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Thomas C. Reeves (AKA Tom)

Website: http://it.coe.uga.edu/~treeves/

On February 1, 2012, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Federal Communications Chairman Julius Genachowski jointly announced a major digital textbook initiative at a national online town hall meeting as part of the inaugural Digital Learning Day (http://www.digitallearningday.org/DLD2012 ). Of course, it is practicing teachers who will inevitably struggle to integrate digital textbooks (as well as serious games, virtual worlds, 3D video, mobile devices, etc.) into the classroom. I feel confident in predicting that few of the expected benefits of the digital textbook initiative, especially enhanced learning, will be achieved. This is primarily because this educational technology innovation initiative like so many others before it has started with a solution rather than a problem.
Educational technologists, corporate interests, politicians, and the public at large generally seem to agree that “21st-Century schools should integrate new technologies for learning” (Darling-Hammond, 2010, p. 281). Today, many, perhaps most, teachers in the wealthier nations have multiple options in their classrooms for integrating technology into their learning environment, including in many cases interactive whiteboards and laptop or tablet computers with wireless access to the Internet. But these same teachers often lack sufficient knowledge and skills regarding the affordances of these technologies for supporting student learning. And the problem is not just a knowledge and skills gap. Teachers’ attitudes and beliefs also influence whether and how they integrate technology and
internet marketing strategies into their daily teaching plans (Ertmer, 2005). Many teachers simply do not believe that today’s digital technologies will be any more effective than previous educational technologies promoted as solutions to educational problems. They can hardly be blamed for this persistent doubt given that the vast majority of studies of the effectiveness of technological innovations in education have shown “no significant differences” over traditional teaching methods (Hattie, 2009).

I argue that “just as good is not good enough” and we must stop throwing educational technologies over the classroom walls and expect real change. It is time for educational researchers and practitioners to collaborate in more effective approaches to solving educational problems. Educational design research (AKA design-based research and by other names) offers a viable alternative to traditional educational research approaches. This week I’ll present some ideas about educational design research and we’ll discuss how educational practice and outcomes might be enhanced if this research genre is more widely adopted.

Darling-Hammond, L. (2010). The flat world and education: How America’s commitment to equity will determine our nation’s future. New York: Teachers College Press.
Ertmer, P. (2005). Teacher pedagogical beliefs: The final frontier in our quest for technology integration? Educational Technology Research and Development, 53(4), 25–39.
Hattie, J. A. C. (2009). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses related to achievement. New York: Routledge.

Texts and videos:
Article from March 2011 issue of Educational Designer: Can Educational Research Be Both Rigorous and Relevant? http://www.educationaldesigner.org/ed/volume1/issue4/article13/index.htm

Interviews with Design-Based Research Experts: http://projects.coe.uga.edu/dbr/expertinterview.htm

Conducting Educational Design Research Workshop Resources (Herrington, McKenney, & Reeves): http://web.me.com/janherrington/EDR/DesignResearch.html

Suggested Activities:
Identify an article from a peer-reviewed educational research journal that has had significant impact on practitioners such as K-12 teachers, university instructors, or corporate trainers. What is the evidence of impact?

The Journal of Irreproducible Results (http://www.jir.com/ ) is a satirical science journal founded in 1955. It includes irreverent parodies of scientific research articles. Imagine that there was a similar publication in the field of education, but instead of parodies, it published actual articles. Nominate an article for inclusion in the first edition. Also suggest a title for the journal.

Tom will be hosting a live session on Wednesday at 1 pm Eastern time (time zone conversions). We will meet here in Collaborate: