Spoke to my graduate school advisor about my thesis today. I completed my coursework a year ago and am a thesis away from getting my Master’s degree. It’s not been going too terribly well.
The problem, in addition to moving twice and having a baby, is that I get pulled away by a bunch of different questions and ideas. All of which fade as I get into the next one. However, I think I might know the general direction that I want to go. Might as well share.
I’m thinking about doing my thesis on the educational technology stuff that I’ve been immersed in these last seven or eight months. I haven’t been here long, but I’ve found technology to be a thread throughout my teaching and learning. These new mediums are fascinating to me — not because of computers, but because of the ability to connect, reflect and build community. I can do stuff with the web that I can’t do in the classroom. My hunch, and I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here, is that these technologies, used properly, can help us to teach better.
No. That’s not right. They help students to learn better — because they require that students take the wheel and drive their own learning. It’s not too hard to fake a worksheet — but try to fake a blog or active participation in a learning community.
I’d love to back that up and be able to cite some research on that. I’d also like to analyze what works when it comes to creating community online. I guess I’ve got at least two research questions here:
1. How do web-based technologies affect student learning? Teacher preparation?
2. What are some effective strategies to use when teaching with these technologies? How do you create a successful and (self)sustaining community of online learners?
These are definite first draft sorts of questions — but I’ve really been thinking about them for a while. I know I’m not alone.