This week I attended the AECT conference and it was quite different from any conference that I have attended. AECT – the Association for Educational Communications and Technology – was a gathering place of graduate students and researchers from all over the world. These amazing people have been digging into educational technology and all of the different influences it is having in education.
This was not like ISTE or OTA, there was no App Smackdown, or super cool tool session – this was about research.
It got me wondering – how can we get the research into the hands of the teachers? In a way that teachers would appreciate? In a way that informs practice and encourages teachers to make positive change. In a way that matters.
When I was in the classroom (until last year), I did not have time to read the research. Teachers don’t have time to read a well put together literature review, or methods section. They need the idea, was it successful, can I use it, give me a couple of examples in real life. If a quick scan of Twitter or some focused Google searching did not give me what I was looking for – then I moved on.
How can we bridge this gap? Our teachers work so hard and have so much going on, that wading through research is not at the top of the list.
Talking with some of my committee members led to this discussion: what if research was culled down to the most important items, put into an infographic, placed in a blog under 600 words, with links to the actual research (should teachers have time and want it) and links that showed the research in practice. Would teachers read it then?
Teachers want to be brilliant for their students, schools, and communities. They want to make a different that lasts a lifetime. They want to reach students in new and amazing ways. Can we make it easier for teachers to adopt new ways of thinking?
A quick example as a sum up – when I was a pre-service teacher in the early 1990’s, my media class consisted of using an overhead projector, micro-fiche, and the VCR. Today I teach pre-service teachers how to use blogs, interactive whiteboards, websites, social media, virtual tours, infographics, movie making, tablets (and more) as part of their educational practice. These future teachers are learning how to step into new technologies, so that as things change, they are not intimidated. I had to learn how to use cool new stuff, like the internet, as part of my teaching practice on my own. Without the benefits of research or instruction from those who had really investigated this new thing.
Teachers have so much more available to them now than ever before, yet it is so hard to step out of their comfort zones. Research says “……..” and research says “……….” and yet very little change occurs.
Can we find a way to get research into the hands of teachers in a way they can use it? I wonder what the research says….