Educational Media Design & Technology blog and action plan

Summary July 18, 2011

My Action Research Project involved using technology to motivate students and improve learning.  Over the course of this project I learned what constitutes a valid learning objective and how technology should be used to accomplish that objective, as well as how NOT to use technology.  Just using technology in your classroom will not accomplish the goals of improved motivation and learning.  Technology must be incorporated in a way that brings meaning to the activity; the technology must elevate the learning to another level.  Our students live in a world full of technology.  They use Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Google on a daily basis.  These terms are not just nouns to our students, these terms are verbs…they represent ACTION!  Our students are already interacting with the world and they want to use technology for everything! Showing them how to use the technology to learn and create a product will impact the rest of their lives.

My literature review was definitely supported by my research.  In my review, I stated, “Jackson, Gaudet, McDaniel and Brammer (2009) reported that all subjects and all learning styles could be enhanced through the use of technology.”  These same authors concluded, “…teachers should focus first on learning theories and the overall way that individual students learn.”  I definitely found this to be true in my two cycles.  Including technology just for the sake of including technology was a wasted effort.  But including technology so that students could write and record their own songs, or create their own comic strips, those were valuable learning experiences.  Likewise, “Campbell, Wang, Hsu, Duffy and Wolf (2010) proposed a model for integrating the way students use technology in school with the way they use technology outside of school, specifically in the science classroom. “  I found that simple tasks that students already do, like taking pictures or recording video, were the easiest tasks to integrate into a learning activity.

As I look back on my Action Research Project, I see several areas that could be improved upon.  First, I did not provide enough time or a platform for student reflection.  After my experience with Full Sail, I realize even more how important this is to the learning process.  A test is not a reflection.  I’m thinking about how to use technology to accomplish this, whether it is a blog, Twitter or a Wallwisher.  I found success in the smallest activities, which was not what I expected at all.  The song that I had to create for one course and decided to include at the last minute in my Cycle 2, was mentioned the most on the Cycle 2 post-surveys.  Students thought I should do it more than once, with another topic.  In fact, we sang it before our state exit exam in the review sessions (the other two Biology teachers also sang it with their classes) and my students reported using the song to answer questions on the test!  I will definitely be using more music with meaningful lyrics and motions next year.

In conclusion, my Action Research was very valuable, not just for me but for all of our biology classes in my high school.  The activities that I developed for my project will be incorporated (some with improvements) in all of the classes next year and we are already developing additional activities.  I am lucky to be in a school that supports all efforts to improve student motivation and performance, even the use of cell phones.  As a result of my research, I have been selected to serve on the summer reading committee as the technology consultant.  For their reading projects next year, students will be using the projects that I’ve used in class in presentations to their classmates.  I’m very excited about teaching all of the teachers in my school how the use of technology can excite and motivate our students.