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Distributed Research in Distributed Education. Sólveig Jakobsdóttir, associate professor KHÍ/Iceland University of Educaton Power of Onlline Learning, 10th Sloan-C International Conference on Asynchronous Learning Networks November 2004 , Orlando FL. Focus.

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distributed research in distributed education

Distributed Research in Distributed Education

Sólveig Jakobsdóttir, associate professor KHÍ/Iceland University of Educaton

Power of Onlline Learning, 10th Sloan-C International Conference on Asynchronous Learning NetworksNovember 2004 , Orlando FL

  • What is distributed...: learning/education, cognition, research..?
  • Why do “distributed research”?
  • The tools
  • Examples
  • Considerations
distributed learning bates 1996
Distributed learning – Bates 1996
  • “A distributed learning environment is a learner-centred approach to education, which integrates a number of technologies to enable opportunities for activities and interaction in both asynchronous and real-time modes. The model is based on blending a choice of appropriate technologies with aspects of campus-based delivery, open learning systems and distance education. The approach gives instructors the flexibility to customize learning environments to meet the needs of diverse student populations, while providing both high quality and cost-effective learning.” (Bates, 1996)
distributed learning dede 2000
Distributed learning – Dede 2000
  • “However, sophisticated computers and telecommunications do have unique capabilities for enhancing learning, especially through a new model of education called “distributed learning” in which classrooms, workplaces, homes, and community settings are linked for educational activities.” (Dede, 2000)
what is distributed learning education
What is “distributed learning/education”?
  • Describes a blend of campus-based or on-site learning and distance learning or net-based learning (The Educational gateway http://menntagatt.is, 2001). Not exactly a new phenomenon, e.g. if one look at how people study at different places over a longer period of time. But increasingly, with the help of the Net, people can study at many places during the same or shorter periods.
  • One can look at distributed learning from
    • a learner’s perspective (study at different places with different individuals, resources) or from
    • School/teacher’s perspective whose students are from all over















distributed cognition uf 2002
Distributed cognition – UF 2002
  • “The Theory of Distributed Cognition is closely related to Social Constructivism in the argument it makes that cognition is not within the individual but rather it is distributed over other people and tools. The use of telecommunications technologies in education has to rely highly on distributed cognition. Major researchers in the field are Pea, Salomon, Perkins, Cole, G. Hutchins, and Norman.” (University of Florida, College of Education, Educational Technology, 2002)
distributed research fitz gibbon et al
Distributed research – Fitz-Gibbon et al.
  • Carol Taylor Fitz-Gibbon introduced the concept about a decade ago (?) and has promoted the idea of distributed research to improve education, as have her colleagues at the Durham Curriculum, Evaluation, and Management (CEM) Centre (Tymms & Coe, 2003). They use the concept to describe research involving high collaboration with schools and teachers or practioners, and with an aim to improve educational systems within and encourage experimentation, rather than to just passively research them from the outside
distributed research
“Distributed research”?
  • One could think about “distributed research” in the way that students or individuals who are distributed over different areas participate together in a one or more part of the research process, e.g., in data gathering in order to gather a lot of data in as short a time as possible. Collaborative or communication projects in schools and/or between (research) institues and others are often based on that idea.
why doing distributed research
Why doing “distributed”research?
  • If we look at typical research process we could e.g. divide it into:
    • Preparation work, e.g., with literature research
    • Writing, planning, applications
    • Data gathering
    • Data analysis
    • Writing and publication
  • The potential of collaboration between very many may be most effective at stage 1 and 3.
why doing distributed research with students
Students experience parts of researchers’ roles, learn by an apprenticeship model, can get them to think, look closer more critically at different types of phenomenon.

Can bring valuable experience/insights to the research process.

When students are also practicing teachers they can provide important links with educational workplaces and MUCH higher response rates (often a problem in online surveys, see e.g. Witmer et al., 1999)

More likely that the results will have value – be utilized?

Locate and read more literature - researcher & student(s)?

More data from wider area, within shorter periods with very little cost.

Why doing “distributed”research with students?

Pop.: 290.000majority in Reykjavik(capital area)

100.000 km2(about half size ofMinnesota)

http://www.south.is/icemap.html; birt með leyfi frá Landmælingum Íslands


100.000 km2(about half size ofMinnesota)

schools part. 1998

schools part. 2002

http://www.south.is/icemap.html; Landmælingar Íslands (birt með leyfi)

the tools
The tools...?
  • Data gathering: online surveys (e.g., with Frontpage)
  • Data gathering+publishing : Connection with databases (e.g., Frontpage+Access)


  • “Regular” webs – general information to groups
  • “Privat” information – e-mail or closed webs
how example 1 school computer culture gender differences
How? Example 1 - School computer culture, gender differences
  • Studies Nov. 1998 and 2002 (two week period):
  • Instrument: http://soljak.khi.is/tolvumenning
  • Data mostly quantitative but also qualitative (open-ended questions). Saved in a text document on the server, copied into Excel and SPSS for analysis.
  • Response rate about or above 90% (everyone present at time of study – with very few exceptions)
how example 2 internet use of icleandic children adolescents
How? Example 2 – Internet useof Icleandic children/adolescents
  • Qualitative study 2001-3.
  • See, e.g., paper presented at BERA 2003. Available on project web: http://soljak.khi.is/netnot
  • 66 students gathered data, did preliminary data analysis, and discussed results.
  • Six students worked further on the project: did literature research, web design, further data analysis, and made conference presentation.
example of data in bank 15 year old girl being observed for 18 minutes in her home
Example of data in bank15 year old girl being observed for 18 minutes in her home
  • …Turns on the computer opens Internet Explorer and links [to the Net] with a modem. Sits in a desk chair and sits steady and relaxed. A little impatient while she waits to be linked to the Net. As soon as she is connected she goes to leit.is [Icelandic search engine] and types in a search word the researcher misses. The search does not produce any results, goes to google.com and types again in the word and now the researcher sees the word “líkmaur” [Icelandic, literally corpse ant] no results. Next the user types in the word “lík” (body/corpse) og which produces lots of pages. Flips through some, now goes all of a sudden over to MSN and greets someone there. Gets an immediate reply and writes a few sentences. Writes fast and seems to use proper keyboarding. Again returned to the search and stretches for a dictionary, leaves through and then types in “Corps” [uses English]. Mutters, this does clearly not exist. Who is on MSN asks the researcher. X she replies (friend of her brother, lives in England). Again in the search, suddenly laughs and sneaks a look to the researcher. Obviously something funny that she had read. Goes very fast between MSN and IE [Internet explorer], all of a sudden a third person has joined MSN, some girl, I notice the user uses shortened forms of writing such as “u?” instead of “en þú?” [bu you]. Turns the browser all of a sudden of and says, cannot find anything about this. What were you looking for? Asks the researcher curious. The teacher asked us to check whether “corpse ants” existed because of some horrible story she had heard.
how example 3 internet use of icleandic teachers
How? Example 3 – Internet useof Icleandic teachers
  • Quantitative study spring 2004.
  • 66 students gathered data, did preliminary data analysis, and discussed results.
  • Six students worked further on the project: did literature research, web design, further data analysis, and made conference presentation.
  • 61% response rate overall, (between 38-100%, in 75% of cases over 61%)
  • In the examples results and writings about the studies have (or will be) presented to new cohorts of students in a graduate program on ICT in education as major pieces of research within Iceland relevant to their studies.
how example concepts reading materials on ict
How? Example – Concepts, reading materials on ICT
  • Also one can create and gather materials in a similar way, e.g. About important readings and concepts. Examples include:
  • http://soljak.khi.is/efnisbanki (bank og references with annotated bibliography)
  • http://soljak.khi.is/leshringur (reading circle, bank of references and critique)
  • http://soljak.khi.is/tolvuppbankar/hugtakasafn.asp (bank of concepts)
for consideration
For consideration
  • Pedagogy, teaching methods: online communities - students participate in gathering new information – inquiry-based?
  • Personal protection – research ethics?
  • Organization?
  • Technical issues/problems?
  • The quality of data?
  • Information overflow?
  • When carefully contructed and planned there should be several benefits for both teacher educators and their students/teachers. The latter can, e.g., gain an important experience and contribute by helping to answer questions, solve problems, raise some new questions, and feel apart of a community learning and finding out things together. They can also get ideas for new R&D projects or working with their own students.
  • “All the little things add up” and
  • “Many hands make light work“
  • Bates, A. W. (1996). The impact of technological change on open and distance learning. Sótt 10.3.2004 af http://bates.cstudies.ubc.ca/papers/brisbane.html
  • Dede, Chris. (2000). A new century demands new ways of learning. Í David T. Gordon (Ritstj.), The digital classroom: How technology is changing the way we teach and learn.Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Letter.
  • Fitz-Gibbon, Carol Taylor. (1995). Measuring value added in schools: distributed research. Education and Training Statistics, 184-207
  • Fitz-Gibbon, Carol Taylor. (1999). Quality, science and soros’s reflexivity concept: a value-added approach. af http://www.oki.hu/article.php?kod=quality-11-Taylor.html
  • Fitz-Gibbon, Carol Taylor. (2003). Quality and development: the need for competence in social science. af http://www.km.bayern.de/km/bms/load/fitz_gibbon.pdf
  • Fitz-Gibbon, Carol Taylor og Tymms, Peter. (2002). Technical and ethical Issues in indicator systems:
  • doing things right and doing wrong things. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 10(6) af http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v10n6/
  • Rogers, Patricia L. (2001). Traditions to Transformations: The Forced Evolution of Higher Education. Educational Technology Review, 9(1), http://www.aace.org/pubs/etr/issue1/rogers.cfm.
  • Tymms, Peter, & Coe, Robert. (2003). Celebration of the success of distributed research with schools: the CEM Centre, Durham. British Educational Research Journal, 29(5), 639-653.
  • University of Florida - College of Education. (2002, 3.9.2002). Major theories in educational technology. af http://www.coe.ufl.edu/courses/edtech/Discipline/theories.html
  • Witmer, Diane F., Colman, Robert W. og Katzman, Sandra Lee. (1999). From paper-and pencil to screen-and-keyboard. Í Steve Jones (Ritstj.), Doing Internet research: Critical issues and methods for examining the Net (bls. 145-161). Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications.