Monday, January 12th 2009

I have a meeting with Tony at the University tomorrow. We'll be going over the ethics application. I had to answer 2 questions in plain english so I though it best to start afresh rather than cut/paste/edit from previous documents such as my research statement. I've included them in this journal entry as I'm pleased with how things are shaping up:

Executive summary in plain english:

Provide a brief summary of the project outlining the broad aims, background, key questions, research design/approach, the participants in the study and what they will be asked to do, and the importance or relevance of the project. [This description must be in everyday language, free from jargon, technical terms or discipline-specific phrases. (No more than 300 words).]

My research proposal uses an Action Research methodology as it is situated within the primary school community in which I am employed. Although my role at this school is as a Performing Arts specialist, the nature of the project involves assisting all staff to integrate computers into the broader curriculum by assisting the children to use multimedia to design, present and assess their own learning.

Due to the digital nature of the children’s presentations, their work would be part of their own individual portfolios which I’m calling multimedia workbooks. These are similar to digital portfolios except that the children are encouraged to use multimedia routinely and link all of their learning together. Rather than traditional folios which are a snapshot of what was achieved, the multimedia workbooks are about students refining their own work using the design process to improve quality through engagement.


State the aims and significance of the project. Where relevant, state the specific hypothesis to be tested. Also provide a brief description of current research/literature review, a justification as to why this research should proceed and an explanation of any expected benefits to the community. [No more than 500 words]

Through working with children directly over the last 10 years, I have found that they can surpass expectations about achievement using technology when given authentic tasks. My research is not trying to find out how this works but rather to demonstrate how far they can go when using technology as a presentation tool. My own data design for this project involves me writing everything up in HTML in the same way that the children are instructed to link their learning together. At the end of the project I will be able to show hundreds of examples of children’s work both in finished and embryonic forms demonstrating how their own understanding has evolved and how they learnt to solve problems in creative ways.

This research project involves working with the whole school from Prep to Grade 6. All children will be using and developing these multimedia skills and parents who complete their permission forms for inclusion in my project will be agreeing to their children’s work being included in my own presentation and findings. Film making and animations are also part of this process which has obvious benefits in integrating the curriculum.

This research project is called Storyboard to reflect my own conviction that although technology has made massive advances in the last 20 years, the bigger innovation is the screen itself. When Walt Disney coined this term in 1930s he was articulating a basic premise about logic and order inherent in the design process. Now that computers have given everyone access to these capabilities, education can really benefit from using these same principles using language that even preliterate children can understand using pictures in order.

My research project reflects the Gestalt principal often quoted in the context of graphic design that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Using technology and multimedia in schools isn’t new but teachers, researchers and indeed education departments have not used a whole school approach such as mine before. One reason for this is that technology changes so fast that people are always looking for the latest thing. As much and as fast as things change, the screen is here to stay and as long as people are working in digital formats, their work can easily migrate into any new medium that comes along.

I can’t imagine a presentation on education where the presenter isn’t using a screen of some description, even if that’s an overhead projector or a whiteboard. What I can imagine is children presenting their own learning on a screen and explaining the choices behind the countless decisions involved in the exact same way that directors often include their own commentary in the special features section of a DVD.


Tuesday, January 13th 2009

My meeting today with Tony went well in that he signed my ethics application. A few changes were also recommended but he felt I didn’t need to see him again before lodging the application. I am trying to track down Julianne (my assistant supervisor) to get her signature as she is on leave at the moment.

Tony agreed with me that:

I also mentioned my forthcoming trip to the USA and Tony suggested I visit MIT in Boston.


Monday, January 19th 2009

I had my first meeting with Julianne (my assistant supervisor at Melbourne University) in nearly a year. The purpose of the meeting was to get her signature on my ethics application which has now been officially lodged. Included with the application were drafts of my plain language statement and consent form. Julianne was most insightful and I also borrowed seven books at the library which I'm working my way through.


Friday, January 30th 2009

I presented my 90 minute workshop to the entire staff yesterday called "Digital integration". It went pretty well but I also ended up thinking of improvements afterwards. I attended another presentation today which got me thinking about presentations in general and how they can be refined.


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