All posts by bamirova

Reflection on my learning

 

This seems to be the final post in the blog writing and I want to reflect on the experience that I have obtained.

I have read many articles that are dedicated to one of the most popular mode of learning- online courses. While discussing research findings, many participants of online learning emphasize that flexibility, accessibility and keeping your own track make this learning more effective and independent compared with the traditional on-campus learning.

From my own personal experience, I can say that I partially agree with the mentioned above advantages of online learning. I felt intellectually challenged as I was learning something new. Unfortunately, this was not the only struggle that I had to face.  It was hard at times to balance work, study and family life: the clashes emerged unexpectedly as responsibilities increased but the time was limited. Moreover, the sense of guilt with despair was haunting me: I could not be a good student, teacher and mother at the same time, a dilemma that most modern females have to face in the globalized society striving for life-long learning.

I tried to take the most of my online learning experience though. I read research works that made me mull over the challenges and benefits of online learning. I became interested in this aspect and started delving into it.

Later, I decided to focus on challenges and benefits that students might face in online learning in my mini-thesis. Recent research articles helped to understand the phenomenon of online learning better and contributed to my literature review writing. My group mates took part in interviews and helped to collect the data for further analysis. I had an opportunity to get perspectives on their online learning experience and draw some conclusions.

Overall, I found my online learning as something engaging and worth taking. There are some issues that might arise on your path; however they hardly might diminish the advantages of such mode of learning.

For the future online learners, I would recommend to be well-organized and highly motivated as time management skill as well as personal interest and dedication will turn online learning into a rewarding experience.

Research Interview

While being on University campus, I decided to interview two teachers to explore the research questions of my mini-thesis. I scheduled the interviews with each interview participant choosing the date and the place for the interview.

The main research questions of the mini-thesis are:

  1. What are the main benefits of online learning for students and teachers?
  2. What challenges do students and teachers face in online learning environment?

In view of above research questions, I used qualitative design in my study. My research is based on one-on-one, face-to-face interviews. According to Creswell (2002), interviews gives opportunity to hear the participants “… experiences unconstrained by any perspectives of the researcher or past research findings” (p. 240).

The use of the qualitative design allows me to obtain ideas and opinions of the interview participants to explore the central phenomenon of my study from the perspective of teachers themselves.

In my research, I used purposeful sampling. . As Creswell (2002) claims purposeful sampling provides an opportunity to choose individuals or sites that can “best help us understand the phenomenon” as well as such sampling contributes to “a detailed understanding”. To develop many perspectives in my study (Creswell, 2002), I used maximal variation sampling to understand better the benefits and challenges that teachers as students face.

One-on-one interview with open-ended questions was chosen as the main tool for data collection since it is considered one of the main means in qualitative research. As Creswell (2002) states one-on-one interviews are a good tool for interviewing participants who are open to speak and who can “share ideas clearly”. Although the researcher states that such interviews are “time-consuming and costly approach” they seem to provide an opportunity for the participants to reflect, analyze and delve into the issue of the research.

Later all the interviews will be transcribed and coded for further in-depth analysis. The next procedure will be identifying themes related to my research questions. It is of high probability that sub-themes might emerge as the data analysis continues since each participant will share his/her perceptions from various angles.

Reference

Creswell, John W. (2002) Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research. Pearson.

Flipped Learning

Thare are many innovative learning and teaching technologies that have gained their popularity in the world of education. One of them is Flipped learning or Flipped classroom. Flipped learning is a pedagogical approach in which traditional lecture and homework practice are reversed. Such learning approach has become popular, especially among higher education institutions. To date, many schools are implementing this mode of learning as it provides insightful learning at home at student’s own pace and effective class discussion afterwards.

One of the “fathers” of Flipped learning is considered to be Eric Mazur who outlined this strategy in his book titled “Peer Instruction: A User’s Manual” (Prentice Hall, 1997).

Many researchers agree that Flipped learning has many advantages compared to traditional classroom lecturing. The following strengths of Flipped learning have been found:

  1. Flipped learning engages students in a collaborative discussion in the class;
  2. Students may work at their own pace;
  3. Classroom time can be used more creatively and effectively;
  4. Teachers can tailor resources to student’s learning style and abilities;
  5. Flipped learning contributes to developing ICT competency.

Flipped learning can be successfully implemented in Kazakhstani context as well, both in school and University levels as it will help to reduce Teacher Talking Time and increase student engagement and contribution. It seems that Flipped learning or some elements of this strategy is being implemented within NIS school network as students are expected to learn independently, engage in mini-projects or small-scale research on different school subjects. One of the effective web resources for Flipped learning is Edmodo which is popular among NIS teachers. Majority of my colleagues upload folders with materials and resources for students’ self-study and self-preparation.

The situation is quite different in mainstream schools where teachers still have to lecture whereas students are exposed to do all homework after the lessons. The main challenge that teachers may face in such schools is that classes are full, with 30-35 students and it is hard to organize an effective class discussion where every student should cooperate with other peers. Moreover, not all teachers have a good level of ICT competency to implement Flipped learning in every-day teaching.

Students might also struggle with this type of learning. The main challenge for them might be unequal access to online resources since not all mainstream learners have access to internet at home. Therefore, students will not be able to read materials before they come to the class; this will result in poorer understanding and lower achievement.

To sum up, Flipped learning is an effective tool for both teaching and learning that might be used in the context of Kazakhstan if it is organized in an effective and sufficient way for learners and teaching staff.

Reference:

Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojiebVw8O0g

Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwvXFlLQClU

Writing Literature review

Writing Literarture review is an essential part of any researh work a it provides the research with necessary background knowledge, discusses the similar or opposing conclusions of the authors. Moreover, Literature review helps to define a gap in the research which can be addressed in your own research work.

In order to start writing Literature review, you should find academic resources concerning your issue or research question. To date, there are thousands of resources and research works that can be downloaded or purchased online. Nonetheless, it is challenging to find the resources that will provide background information for your study and guide you in your writing. Tht is why it is essential to narrow your research questions and keep focused on specific issues that are relevant to the topic of your research. Therefore, Literature review should be aligned with the research questions at the same time providing different perspectives on the issue.

When you have defined a list of research works that will contribute to writing Literarture review, study each research work very carefully at the same time grouping the authors with similar or contrasting views. Such method will help to make your Literature review more precise and specific giving you an opportunity to analyze different viewpoints on the research topic.

Writing Literature review, especially for empirical studies, offers a historical pespective of the research in your field. There is an opportunity to discuss arguments and conclusions of scholars and researchers in different periods of time comparing or contrasting to the modern situation on the related issue. This approach helps you acknowledge all previously made research, discuss questions, summarize the works and suggest further research on the issue that you explore.

To conclude, Literature review is not a description of certain research works dedicated to the specific issue but a critical, insightful analysis of published work.

_________________________________________________________

Regarding my Literature revew for mini-thesis, I have created a list of relevant resources about online learning and read all of them. Next, I have defined the main ideas and grouped the authors according to the main topics. Currently I am writing Literature review contrasting authors’ views on online learning.

APA Formatting

The importance of using APA style is discussed in many research works as it sets the standards for scientific communication. Uniform style helps to give credit to the author or researcher of the article/work, find research works related to a certain area and organize all research articles in journals, books and electronic databases  in one format. The issue of plagiarism has increased in the last decade with the wider access to online resources: many students take whole passages without citing the author/ writer. It is significant for students as young researchers format the resarch in a uniform form, otherwise, their work will not contribute to the field of research. To avoid plagiarism, it is crucial to use APA format. How to cite in a proper way?

There are many manuals and online resources that provide guidance for APA formatting. I have found very useful and precise guidelines by the University of Saskatchewan: the guide clearly explains the importance of citing, contains information on various styles that are used to cite sources, and provides examples of citations for different styles.

I would like to share one more resource which can also provide guidance while using APA style. The resource is “Publication Manual of the American Pshychologial Association” which has a wide range of citing for certain types of publications, from periodicals to audiovisual media. Moreover, the manual discusses the mechanics of style including punctuation, abbreviations, and capitalization. The chapter “Writing clearly and concisely” in this manual gives a clear guidance and explanation on organization, style and grammar usage while citing and writing a research. Overall, this resource is a useful tool for students who take first steps in the field of research as it reveals how to make the reserach specific in its content and precise in language.

I would recommend these two resources for APA formatting and avoiding plagiarism in the future.

Discussing the challenges that I face while using APA style, I would mention that it is always difficult to cite the resources in the text, while writing an assignment. Especially, I need to read more and learn how to cite a secondary source.

Reference

Citation Style Guides: Why to Cite Sources: Academic Honesty & Plagiarism. University of Sasketchewan. (n.d.). Retrieved September 16, 2015.

Publication manual of the American psychological association. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2001.

Online Learning Environments

1.Author– Carol A. Twigg (2003)

Improving learning and reducing costs: New models for online learning

Strengths– The author introduces six characteristics of the course-redesign projects: whole class redesign, active learning, computer-based learning resources, mastery learning, on-demand help, and alternative staffing.

The researcher discusses 5 course-redesign models in higher education institutions: supplemental, replacement, emporium, fully online, and buffet.

Drawbacks– It is likely that not all educational institutions would be able to offer such course-redesign projects to their learners annually.

Citations– “Information technology enables best practices to be captured in the form of interactive Web-based materials and sophisticated course-management software”.

“Faculty can add to, replace, correct, and improve an ever-growing, ever-improving body of learning materials”.

“Sustaining innovation depends on a commitment to collaborative development and continuous quality improvement that systematically incorporates feedback from all involved in the teaching and learning process”.

2. Authors– Rod Sims , Graeme Dobbs & Tim Hand (2002)

Enhancing Quality in Online Learning: Scaffolding Planning and Design Through Proactive Evaluation

Strengths– The researchers focus on an additional dimension to post-development  evaluation processes in proposing proactive evaluation, a framework that identifies critical online learning factors and influences that will better inform the planning, design and development of learning resources.

Drawbacks– Not only evaluation is an integral part of online learning, there are many other significant points that need to be addressed for effective online learning, such as content of the resources, interactive and engaging practice and many other factors that will contribute to achieving educational goals.

Citations– “Using the concept of proactive evaluation, a strategy to enable scaffolding and support for teachers and learners new to online environments, the factors and influences integral to this framework are considered critical to effective online learning”.

“By focusing on the planning and design phases of the development cycle, proactive evaluation addresses the critical issues associated with the creation of learning resources and environments for delivery in an online context to ensure they will have a greater chance of achieving educational outcomes, with both teachers and learners gaining significant value from their online experiences”.

3. Author– Mary Thorpe (2002)

Rethinking Learner Support: The challenge of collaborative online learning

Strengths– The use of computer-mediated communication (CMC) as an integral part of the design of distance taught courses raises interesting challenges to our thinking about course design and learner support. The researcher emphasizes that online learning has changed pedagogical aspect of learning and today’s generation is facing completely new online forms of online teaching.

The researcher discusses what learner support is in Open and Distance Learning (ODL) and what needs to be implemented or taken into consideration to make online learning more effective and sufficient.

Drawbacks– Not all teachers or tutors can lead the “the technology of conversation” and they need more practice on developing facilitator skill in online learning to provide support and guidance for their learners.

Citations– “The communicative dynamics that can be created through intensive design and build of online learning groups do afford the possibility of greater communication-and greater challenge- for both learners and tutors/ course creators”.

“Learners can and do challenge the pedagogical assumptions as well as the knowledge claims of those in authority within such learning contexts”.

4. Liyan Song & Janette R. Hill (2007)

A Conceptual Model for Understanding Self-Directed Learning in Online Environments

Strengths– The researchers present different perspectives of various scholars on SDL. Three models (Candy’s Four-Dimensional model, Brockett and Hiemstra’s Personal Responsibility Orientation Model) were selected by the researchers for description.

The researchers also introduce a conceptual model for understanding SDL in an online context. This model incorporates SDL as a personal attribute and a learning process; the researchers added a third dimension- the learning context- to indicate the impact of environmental factors on SDL.

Drawbacks– SDL is a suitable online learning tool for adults, not for school learners.

Citations– “Given that the context where learning takes place influences the level of learner autonomy that is allowed in the specific context, as well as how a learner utilizes resources and strategies, and becomes motivated to learn, integrating the learning context in the study of SDL is significant”.

“The study of SDL online can help identify those trans-contextual SDL attributes as well as those unique online-based ones, enabling better online teaching and learning experiences”.

To conclude, the researchers agree that online learning is an effective tool for modern learning and teaching. Many factors nned to be taken into account in order to make online learning engaging and learner-centered. Moreover, teachers and tutors should be skilled enough to address the learning needs of their students and collaborate with them in online learning environment.

References

Twigg, C. (2003). Improving learning and reducing costs: New models for online learning. EDUCAUSE review pp.28-38.

Sims, R. et al. (2002). Enhancing quality in online learning: scaffolding planning and design through proactive evaluation. Distance education, vol.23, No. 2.

Thorpe, M. (2002). Rethinking learner support: the challenge of collaborative online learning. Open Learning, vol.17, No. 2.

Song, L. & Hill, J. (2007). A conceptual model for understanding self-directed learning in online environments. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, vol.6, No1.

About my theisis choice

While attending “Professional identity” elective I became interested in exploring teacher professionalism at the site of NIS school. The notion of teacher professionalism has been changing within different historical periods. The attitude towards teacher professionalism has been influenced by ideological, political, economic and social factors in Kazakhstan. Teacher professionalism is a complex and controversial phenomenon and this work is aimed at focusing on the main issues that have an impact and define teacher professionalism in Kazakhstan.

While many studies explored teacher professionalism, there are not many studies in Kazakhstani context. The purpose of this study is to understand the central phenomenon of teacher professionalism and identify the challenges and strategies to cope with the challenges.

Readings by Andy Hargreaves and Michael Fullan were the most useful for my thesis writing and provided me with background information for the study. I also found other research works that will be useful for my literature review. I am planning to explore the research works, find common themes among them.

Now I am thinking about the research questions that I would like to explore in my thesis. I find it quite challenging as still I am not quite confident which aspect of teacher professionalism I would like to explore.