Posts tagged action research
My Action Research is Embracing a Learning Management System Change. This move was needed because our currently Learning Management System will no longer be supported. We had to make a decision to move with a Blackboard platform or to an entirely different system. My research will document the pilot phase of the new platform change and drafting how to make a smooth transition to the new system. Presently, there are 1,000 students in our pilot phase. Currently, 47 have participated in the anonymous survey. 85% of those responding are female. The remaining 15% are male. Almost half of those surveyed felt this Learning Management System was easy to use.
Change is never easy. I envision that this research will help our department best transition to the new Learning Management System once we hope the system up for full usage. I hope the feedback received in this limited pilot will help our department make changes and analyze what worked and what did not work. I expect that the next time we issue an anonymous questionnaire with the same questions that the results will be better.
The strategy that has been used is to start with a limited pilot. This pilot phase will help contribute feedback on how to move forward. There have been many articles referenced to a universities change to a new Learning Management System. Articles read include Petherbridge, D., & Chapman, D. (2007). Upgrading or Replacing Your Learning Management System: Implications for Student Support. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 10(1), 4. Retrieved from EBSCOhost and Barbian, J. (2002). Great Expectations. Training, 39(9), 102. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. Our department has been working hard to make this an easy transition for students. Early reports indicate that we still have a way to go.
Faculty and students will need to understand that this change was the result of Blackboard phasing out the product that we were on. While they had ample time to add many of the features that our students and faculty loved about the current version, Blackboard has neglected to include many requested features. The current plan is to promote training sessions on the new product. Internally we have determined that the transition will take a year. Faculty will have the year to determine when they would like to start teaching in the new platform.
This is a large project that involves many people to implement. The project includes a faculty trainer, a staff member to make training documents for faculty, staff, and students, help desk support staff to provide assistance, and a course developer. Each course will need to be individually migrated to the new system. This involves an engineer to work behind the scenes to move course over. All these people must work together for a common goal of having all faculty and students in the new system by August 2012.
There are two managers and a department director to implement the transition. These three individuals provide the leadership to set the operations of the project and set the priorities of the transition. Before the start of the pilot began, we met internally to view first hand how the product looked for a course that had been migrated to the new platform. We used these sessions to determine any early warnings that may appear with faculty who opted to be in the pilot. These sessions helped us work through much of the transition plan.
This version of Blackboard provides more features for students who have learning disabilities. They have built in more accessibility into the product for screen readers. The system is also more aesthetically appealing. Blackboard has invested into mobility in this version of their product. One of the most sought after features with our previous version of Blackboard is the ability to learn on the go. This new version allows our department to test that feature out. During this pilot phase we are relying heavily on feedback. That feedback will help us map out the official roll out of the product. As the pilot continue this semester, I look forward to continuing to collect data and determine how to make modifications based on the data that will be provided.
I have confidence that I have selected a topic that is relevant to my position and one that I have great interest in learning more about. I would like to pursue an action research topic regarding a college face-to-face class that does not have an online Blackboard component compared to a face-to-face class that has a Blackboard component utilizing the discussion board tools. Specifically I would like to answer the question: Do students in a hybrid course actively engage in online discussions and display a greater understanding of the topic(s) by the end of the course compared to a course with no Blackboard discussion thread?
Our university will be starting a course redesign project. The basic plan is for instructors to formulate ways to enhance their face-to-face sections; moving away from the presentation of hour long lectures. I propose that active dialogue outside the classroom will help students engage more with the course content. I hope to begin looking for willing professors who will let me poll their students and generate questionnaires that will support or refute this action research.
This research will benefit me as I work with faculty members who are interested in using the tools available via Blackboard in their face-to-face class. By researching this subject I will be able to better support them and offer strategies that will enhance their instruction. The research gained here will help me present ideas to faculty who come to us for support.
Blogs are a great way to communicate with an audience. A blog could offer a sounding board in which subscribers could critique the postings of the blogger. Likewise, since the spirit of action research is centered on collaboration, an administrator could easily post their current research findings and offer support via the comments section of their blog. The researcher could then take these comments into consideration. As campus leaders, by blogging we are at demonstrating the use of technology for collaboration. A principal in Napa, California named Monica Tipton “encourages her staff to make the same connection between what students care about and what they are taught. Instead of writing theme papers, students are apt to be investigating… in schools where the entire curriculum is project-based, students naturally turn to digital tools”(Boss & Krauss, 2007). Blogging is one digital tool that can aide in the investigation process.
Boss, S., & Krauss, J. (2007). Real Projects in a Digital World. Principal Leadership, 22.
The readings this week have introduced me to the concept of action research. Based on the readings, action research is a collaborative process that can involve an individual or several people posing a question, working and analyzing data, describing the outcomes of the research and then determining ways to learn from the research that would improve the school, district, community, or even national education policies.
The most important concept learned this week was that action research is designed to seek improvement in an area of weakness. After the readings this week, I believe action research is crucial to professional development and easily helps an educator from remaining stagnant in their field. After a problem has been addressed, the researcher(s) can then discover a proposed solution. This solution can then be implemented and benefits reaped from active research. The fact that action research can greatly enhance a deficiency is an important reminder of the need to conduct action research.
Action research is not just for the campus principal. Classroom teachers can easily take the concepts of action research and apply them to their own class. A classroom teacher could discover new things about their teaching methods, increase their knowledge about a weakness, and can gain a sense of control. Action research with colleagues can create a bond and the formation of a leadership team. A formation of the leadership team can help with many concerns that arise in the school or district such as decision making and strategic planning (Dana, 2009, p. 21).
Dana, N. F. (2009). Leading with Passion and Knowledge: The Principal as Action Researcher. Thousand Oaks: Corwin.