I am fascinated by the Internet’s ability to expand personal learning networks and create opportunities for self-directed learning on an almost infinite number of topics. One of my original motivations for blogging was to observe the impact of blogging on my personal PLN firsthand. My passionate interest in PLN made it a natural choice for my dissertation topic, but as it turns out PLN won’t make even the slightest appearance in my dissertation. Instead, my dissertation deals with pre-service teachers’ ability plan technology-enhanced lessons.
Over the past few months, I’ve occasionally wondered if I would have found it easier to work on my dissertation if I hadn’t changed my topic. During the past week, I’ve decided that it really doesn’t matter. I’m interested in how people learn and in the efforts people make to help learning happen; from that perspective, either topic provides plenty of interest.
This week’s progress
In the past week, I’ve read and outlined seven articles related to my dissertation. Two of the articles related to a specific problem I am trying to solve. Specifically, my conditionally approved prospectus states that I will use a rubric to score student responses on a pre- and post- assessment. One of the conditions of approval is producing the rubric that I will use. Two of the articles I read this week will help me craft my justification for a particular rubric. (At the time of my defense, I was waiting for the release of the results of the study containing this rubric.)
Two of the articles were literature reviews that I wish I had read before designing my study. I feel that these literature reviews provide perspective on the larger field of teacher education related to technology integration. Someday when I am advising graduate students, I will require them to read literature reviews related to their area of interest before selecting their topic. If they can’t find one, then I believe they have prematurely narrowed their topic. In my case, I feel that (as of December 2009–I’m currently playing catch up) I had read most of the literature related to technological pedagogical content knowledge (also known as TPACK or TPCK), but I should have looked for literature reviews on the broader topic of teacher education and technology integration in order to better understand the context of my study. I may have made some adjustments to the design of my study or framed my questions differently. If nothing else, I would have had a stronger defense.
The remaining three articles were reports on various attempts people have made to teach teachers how to teach with technology. Some articles provide useful citations for my literature review, some are of note for methodological or contextual similarities to my study.
As I’ve read, I’ve remembered that I like reading articles, which has been helpful for regaining motivation and momentum. I met my dissertation progress goals last week and got to enjoy my reward. I’m currently waiting on four specific books from the library, so while I’m waiting, I’ll start transcribing the interviews from my study. I expect transcription take most of the next two weeks.