Saturday, December 11, 2010

Architects of Innovative Learning Environments: A Descriptive Case Study

The Case: How do teachers make sense of their experiences with new and emerging technologies such as the iPad to enhance their teaching practice?

· It is hoped that this study will clarify the complexity of teacher experience as they engage with innovation and change.

· It wishes to gain insight to inform future strategies to support teachers

· It may potentially inform future school reform and professional development opportunities for teachers

· It is an inquiry to promote understanding of teacher experience, and thus take the form of a descriptive case study.

· My interest is intrinsic.

· The emphasis will be on my interpretation within an already familiar landscape (elementary school use of technology).

1. My Role

· Participant observer with a position of privilege and familiarity

· I am interested in understanding the ongoing experiences and perceptions of teachers in the iPad project

· Spend time (2 months) in the classroom environment during planning and instruction time in order to establish a narrative relationship and make observations within a natural teaching environment

· My experience is one voice among many

2. The Setting and Actors (Bounded and Natural)

· In one elementary school already selected to meet the criteria of the iPad project

· One or two willing teachers already involved in the iPad project.

· No recruiting - part of an existing study

· Include conversations with other staff that support the teacher (principal, IT)

· Both unique and common (family resemblance)

· Three dimensional inquiry space

3. Artifacts of Interest

· Look at choice of apps

· Look at how the iPad is used in teacher administration such as lesson plans, day plans

· Take note of classroom organization, how is the iPad used in instruction and the documentation process of inquiry

· Look for opportunities to personalize the iPads use

· Keep dual field texts supported with digital pen recordings of observations and conversations (natural language description)

· Include Teacher thoughts and insights from project journals

· Include photos to describe setting and iPad use

4. Method

· Case Study with emergent design

· Naturalistic and Interpretive

· Continuous dialogue, listen and interpret teacher stories of experience

· Enter the scene with familiarity

· An inquiry to promote understanding of ‘case’

· Study the particular and capture complexity in it’s natural setting

5. Assumptions

· Knowledge is gained through social construction (experience happens narratively)

· Learning is contextual and fluid

· Tacit knowledge while difficult to articulate is critical for understanding

· Qualitative research turns the world into a series of representations in order describe and open an understanding

· Interpretation is concerned with re-generation of meaning that comes from new understanding within the already familiar (prior knowledge)

· Technology changes quickly, new and experienced teachers will regularly come into contact with technology that they have no experience with.

· Becoming architects of learning requires teachers to teach differently than they were taught

· We are connected through story, we make sense of experience by telling stories (narrative mode of thinking and knowing)

· People not technology will be the solutions to problems


  1. Neat read Nancy! It looks like it's all coming together. Sounds like you've really focused in on a good issue. How much will you be including the teacher's intent on using the device versus their actual implementation? I know that there's probably lots of people with grandiose plans for the use of their ipad but for one reason or another, don't implement it as much as they'd like. I presume you've looked at the Technology Acceptance Model?

  2. There has been a lot of research done on the barriers for teachers in using technology but very few that describe their experience when they actually give it a real go. The iPad project in Calgary schools has taken the best of the best and given them free iPads to use in the documentation process of inquiry. I want to tell the story of their experience. Intent is part of real life teacher decisions made every day so I expect that will be part of the data. I am looking for rich description full of ambiguity that I will interpret. It will be then up to the reader to call upon their own experience in memory to discover any generalization between experience.