EDIT 9990 - Spring 2006
Doctoral Topical Seminar on Design-Based Research

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          Task 1        

You will maintain a blog concerning your personal research agenda. 

INTRODUCTION
On the first day of the seminar, you will be introduced to the blogging assignment. The development of a robust research agenda is not something that occurs quickly and it will surely evolve throughout your professional career. This assignment is included in this seminar because developing a research agenda is something that requires the kind of reflection and feedback that a blog can enable. According to Wikipedia:

A blog is a website in which journal entries are posted on a regular basis and typically displayed in reverse chronological order. The term blog is a shortened form of weblog or web log. Authoring a blog, maintaining a blog or adding an article to an existing blog is called "blogging". Individual articles on a blog are called "blog posts," "posts" or "entries". A person who posts these entries is called a "blogger". A blog comprises hypertext, images, and links (to other webpages and to video, audio and other files). Blogs use a conversational style of documentation. A given blog will usually focus on a particular "area of interest".

TASK

Your task is to maintain a blog concerning your personal research agenda.  To begin, the blog should include a description of the goals of your research agenda. The research goals held by an educational researcher are influenced by many factors including the epistemological views of the researcher, his/her research training, and the dominant research paradigms within his/her line of inquiry. Six major types of research goals commonly pursued by instructional technology researchers are described in the following paragraphs: 

Theoretical Goals
Researchers with theoretical goals are focused on explaining phenomena through the logical analysis and synthesis of theories, principles, and the results of other forms of research. This type of research is relatively rare because it requires levels of synthesis, generalization, and theory construction for which most researchers have not been prepared. In addition, this type of research usually requires a long-term scholarly agenda that can be sustained for many years. One example of research with theoretical goals within the field of instructional technology is the seminal work of Gagné to describe the basic conditions of learning and a theory of instruction.

Predictive Goals
Researchers with predictive goals are focused on determining how education works by testing conclusions related to theories of teaching, learning, performance, assessment, social interaction, instructional design, and so forth. Instructional technology researchers with this type of goal usually employ experimental (more often quasi-experimental) methods to determine the effects of some form or aspect of a technological innovation under controlled conditions. This type of research dominated instructional technology for decades, but reviews reveal that it has often been done poorly. In fact, until about 20 years ago, it was the only goal graduate students and young researchers were encouraged to pursue. It popularity stems partially from the fact that predictive studies using quasi-experimental methods take less time and logistical support than other approaches, and many research journals remain more receptive to reports of predictive studies than other forms of research.

Interpretivist Goals
Researchers with interpretivist goals are focused on portraying how education works by describing and interpreting phenomena related to teaching, learning, performance, assessment, social interaction, innovation, and so forth. Instructional technologists with interpretivist goals draw upon naturalistic research traditions borrowed from other sciences such as anthropology and sociology. The popularity of conducting research from an interpretivist perspective has increased dramatically among educational researchers over the past 20 years. However, a backlash against qualitative research has developed in some circles and recent initiatives taken by the Federal Government in the USA under the aegis of the Institute of Education Sciences demonstrate a strong preference for funding studies with predictive goals.

Postmodern Goals
Researchers with postmodern goals are focused on examining the assumptions underlying contemporary educational programs and practices with the ultimate aims of revealing hidden agendas and/or empowering disenfranchised minorities. Although increasingly evident among researchers with strong multicultural, gender, or political interests, research in the postmodern tradition is very rare within the instructional technology field. There are several reasons for this, not the least of which is the fact that there are relatively few senior instructional technologists capable of mentoring graduate students or young researchers in this approach.

Design/Development Goals
Researchers with design/development goals are focused on the dual objectives of developing creative approaches to solving human teaching, learning, and performance problems while at the same time constructing a body of design principles that can guide future design or development efforts. Design/development research which is referred to in many different ways such as design-based research, design experiments, formative research, and so forth is the focus of this seminar. One issue that remains unresolved is whether it is feasible for Ph.D. students to engage in a design-based research agenda within the time frame of a typical doctoral program.

Action/Evaluation Goals
Researchers with action/evaluation goals are focused on a particular program, product, or method, usually in an applied setting, for the purpose of describing it, improving it, or estimating its effectiveness and worth. Sometimes called action research or evaluation research, research with action/evaluation goals is similar to design/development research except that there is little or no effort to construct theory, models, or principles to guide future design initiatives. The major goal is solving a particular problem in a specific place within a relatively short time frame. Some theorists maintain that this type of inquiry is not research at all, but merely a form of evaluation. However, despite its primary focus on considerations of use for local practitioners, it can be regarded as a legitimate form of research provided reports of it are shared with wider audiences who may themselves choose to draw inferences from these reports in a sense similar to reports of interpretivist research.

RESOURCES
There are numerous Web resources related to the blogging:
There are many interesting examples of blogging. 

Check out this one by famous IT blogger, Jay Cross, in which he debunks the notion of learning styles:
http://metatime.blogspot.com/2005/12/learning-styles-ha-ha-ha.html

You might find Ray Schroeder's Educational Technology blog to be of interest:
http://people.uis.edu/rschr1/et/blogger.html

Here is a fascinating blog maintained by a German Ph.D. student, Sebastian Fiedler, who earned his Masters in our Instructional Design and Development program:
http://seblogging.cognitivearchitects.com/ 

Here is an example of a blog devoted to educational research from the University of Wisconsin:
http://wcer.blogspot.com/

The "Creating Passionate Users" blog includes a "Crash Course in Learning Theory":
http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/

This task is worth 25 points. 
We will develop a rubric together to assess our blogs.  An example of a rubric can be found here