Jenny Arntzen PhD

My degree was confirmed in February, 2016. I chose not to attend the graduation celebration. I did attend a closing lunch with my thesis supervisor who managed to get me through the final stages of defending and graduating.

For may reasons, and not unusual in the field of higher education, I graduated without any hope or prospect of actually finding work in my field of study. Also, in common with other recent graduates, I left the academy desperate to for income generating work. I had laboured for 10 years contributing my unpaid time and effort to researching and writing up various topics. I graduated with a deep need to work and be fairly compensated for my time.

I had started work in carpentry as a means to renovate and repair my dilapidated heritage house. By the time I graduated I was working full time as a carpenter apprentice. I thoroughly enjoy building and being ‘on the tools’.

However, my training in graduate studies does not go quietly into an abyss after graduation. My propensity to seek out the absence, the missing piece that operates like a whirlpool vortex – unseen but affecting everything in its sphere of influence, re-surfaced like an irrepressible cork. My experiences being a homeowner, being part of a renovation that careened out of control, being a carpenter, and witnessing inept or non-existent project management practices leading other homeowners to the precipice, have converged into seeking yet one more formal certification: Project Management Professional.

In this endeavour I seek to specialize in residential renovations. Luckily I have my own pre- and post- action research on the go: my own residential renovations identified as Phase 1 (out of control) and Phase 2 (project management best practices).

At present I would like to propose and seek funding for a study of residential renovations: how, when, where, why construction professionals and homeowners (who) use project management best practices in residential renovations.

this close to being DONE

I have completed the minor revisions as instructed by my supervisor and a committee member. I have an email from my supervisor saying he will sign the form that will constitute approval to submit my dissertation to the faculty of graduate studies once he sees the final copy. I have sent the final copy.

I have completed the cover sheet form that I have to sign when I submit the paperwork showing my dissertation is approved for submission. I have received confirmation that my dissertation meets thesis requirements for formatting.

My fingers are crossed for Monday, that I will get written approval to submit. Once I have that written approval, I must go to the university and physically deliver the forms to my grad secretary. Once I do this, and it is stamped received, I then do something – I’m not actually sure what. I either walk the paper forms to the graduate studies faculty and submit by hand, or I receive permission to submit all the paperwork, including the dissertation, online.

Anyway, I don’t submit a hard copy of the dissertation to the faculty. I receive permission to upload my dissertation into the university repository. Once it is uploaded, it is part of the university collection and I can no longer access it for editing or any changes.

It is hard to believe that day may actually come.

“is it getting worse?”

I defended my dissertation on Friday and passed with minor revisions. My plan is to get those revisions done this week and submit the document by Friday. That is my plan. We shall see how it goes.

The study I investigated for my research looked at the relationship between instructional discourse in a teacher education program and the subsequent emergence of teacher candidates’ disposition toward using ICT in practice.

My findings were counter-intuitive, in that, despite being offered a wide varieties of encounters with ICT during their first year of their teacher education program, the majority of the teacher candidates were not planning to use ICT on their extended practicum.

As part of the study, the teacher candidates were invited to commit to participating to take a more active role in the study. The teacher candidates who volunteered agreed to attend ICT learning sessions outside their regular teacher education programming.

This small sub-group from the main cohort all planned to use ICT on their extended practicum, and, by the end of the study, were in active lesson planning and production to do so.

The data from my study was collected in the 2007 – 2008 school year. One of the questions posed by my panel of examiners was, “Is the situation getting worse or better?” (with regards to educational engagements with ICT in the profession of teaching). And I was sorry to have to answer, “No.”

The reasons for my answer are gleaned from a variety of indicators that all point to a continuing problem in the field of education. These indicators were not collected as part of a study, but simply report my impressions from diverse sources:

  1. Access to digital technology, and the knowledge and skills to use it productively have been deemed a human right in a Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue;
  2. The CRTC is requiring all Internet providers in Canada to offer a basic Internet access package that does not exceed $25 a month;
  3. The Ministry of Education in BC is implementing new curriculum that is dependent on using ICT as integral to learning activities, however, teachers do not appear adequately prepared to implement the new curriculum eg. ‘personalized’ learning is really ‘technologizing learning’
  4. Parents are questioning the new curriculum, and are critical of the burden that is placed on their children and the teachers eg. Questions Parents Should Ask With New B.C. Curriculum;
  5. There are deep concerns about privacy and government legislation with regards to the protection of student data being collected in a province-wide data management system eg. Information about Bill 11 and Student Privacy;
  6. The inclusion of competency learning in the B.C. curriculum indicates a concerning relationship to the corporatization of education and standardized learning eg. Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 8.37.52 PM.png
  7. There are still abiding issues with the use of ICT in education, in terms of learning ICT, learning to teach with ICT, and learning to teach ICT Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 8.33.53 PM
  8. In university settings, educators in higher education, including teacher education programs, are being forced to use online course management systems to track their teaching and student learning but they are not adequately prepared to utilize these systems, and, in some cases, are forming negative dispositions toward using ICT in their teaching and conveying those sentiments to their students (personal anecdote shared with me 2015 11 20);
  9. There is a pervasive and continuing discordant discourse pertaining to ICT in education, wherein it is referred to as a ‘tool’ that is part of a teachers’ ‘toolbox’, and thus, presumably, at the professional discretion of the teacher whether they use it or not; and; it is also implemented as integral to curriculum delivery, course management, pedagogy and assessment;
  10. Sherry Turkle, M.I.T. professor and best selling author on culture and technology was interviewed on CBC, with Anna Maria Tremonti for the Current, a national radio program, saying that ICT in education was a “failed experiment”.

I was able to compile all these examples of the difficulties facing educators’ engagements with ICT in the few minutes it took to write this blog post. In my opinion, the situation is getting worse and we must do something about. The good news is that there is plenty that we can do, and it does not involve throwing billions of dollars of technology at the problem.

There is a desperate need for educators to engage with ICT as a professional responsibility integral to practice, rather than considering it an add on that they can take or leave. Through substantive engagement, teachers could become the social leaders we need to help us, as a society, and within our families and communities, utilize the affordances of ICT to build and sustain productive, healthy lives, while, at the same time, critically examining the downside of our life with ICT. These are not mutually exclusive endeavours, rather, they are co-constructive and necessary to addressing the issues emergent in our time.

the defence draws nearer

It is hard to believe I am finally getting close to defending my thesis. The tentative date is set for November 20, 2015 at 12:30 pm. This is yet to be confirmed. The dissertation is now being read by committee members, external examiner, and university examiners. I feel good about the dissertation. Yes, there are some awful sentences in it still, but, overall, I am proud of the work I did.

The other day I was going through old laptops that still have collections of image files on them that I need to amalgamate into an external drive. I found a whole series of images I developed to explain the mechanisms of social learning networks and how a composite of learners can solve complex issues when a solo learner cannot.

There is great strength in diversity, when we are able to take advantage of difference rather than feel threatened that everyone is not the same as us.

I am in the process of amalgamating those images and will begin posting and discussing them as a way to prepare for my defence. In fact, I can see how posting about my dissertation and the findings will help be become comfortable articulating the work into common vernacular.

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Shouldn’t all teachers consider themselves educational technologists? #edchat #edtech

The fact is that human societies are now being formed and sustained through communication and information sharing digital technologies. There are very few parents among us who are not engaged in daily deliberations with their children and teenagers about how, when, and why we use different technologies for different purposes. Similarly, there are very few teachers among us who are not facing technological complexity in the forms of diverse devices, software applications, and network infrastructures and how these technological resources can contribute to enabling, enhancing and enriching learning opportunities.

The line between formal learning and informal learning is blurring, as we learn more about learning processes. Whether our learning activities are taking place within the environs of educational institutions are without, we are constantly taking in new information, making sense of it, evaluating its relevance to our current needs, and utilizing it accordingly.

It is interesting that the debate in BC education is largely focused on class-size, when the actual composition of a ‘class’ and the locations for learning relationships to form are changing quickly. How many teachers consider themselves educational technologists? How may are comfortable taking advantage of daily incorporation of ICT in their learning activities (for their students, with their colleagues)? How many teachers feel prepared to provide leadership to their students, and their parents, for the educational, and civic, uses of digital technologies for the good of society, for forming and sustaining friendships, for changing society for the better (socially, culturally, economically, energetically)?

How many teachers are ready to step up and provide support to their colleagues as they learn to incorporate ICT into every facet of teaching and learning? To change teaching cultures and teaching practice to meet 21st century societal needs as leaders in their communities?

I know that teachers work very hard to provide the best learning experiences for their students. I also know that the profession of teaching is changing, it must change, to meet the needs of an evolving technological society. How can teachers be supported to make the necessary changes to their beliefs, values, perceptions, and practices?

Teacher Learning, ICT, and Cultures of Connectivity #edchat #edtech

I have been in the midst of a literature review of educational research titles pertaining to digital technology in teacher education. My primary interest in this literature review has been to look at teacher candidate ICT learning in teacher education, as well as teacher educator ICT learning and teacher education program ICT curriculum. In recognition that teacher education educators are drawn from in-service teachers, I have also been looking at in-service teacher ICT learning. My database of article titles numbers 2,137. I have been coding them to identify the focus of the research: 1) in-service teacher ICT learning, 2) pre-service teacher ICT learning, 3) teacher educator ICT learning, 4) ICT use in schools, 5) student learning with ICT, 6) online teaching, and 7) other (subjects that don’t fit into items 1 – 6).

My first pass over the titles has been to give each article at least one code, with some annotations for clarity. I am working from titles collected from journals and conference papers published 2010 – 2014. One gap in this collection of research literature that keeps jumping out at me is the lack of studies into in-service teacher ICT learning. As I review the articles pertaining to in-service teacher learning, I notice there are a number of articles that investigate teacher knowledge, knowledge sharing, teacher use of ICT, teacher beliefs and attitudes about ICT, teacher ICT intentions, changing educational practice through ICT interventions, teacher ICT practices, teacher ICT professional development, teacher ICT presence in online learning environments, teacher pedagogical beliefs and ICT use, teachers’ use of ICT in specific subject areas (literacy, math, science, social studies, art, music, etc.), and teachers as ICT instructional designers. What I have not found is research investigating and discussing teacher learning. Specifically, there is a glaring absence of research reporting teachers learning ICT: how, why, when, where and what. 

The teaching profession and the field of education are undergoing many changes due to complex forces at play in early 21st century society. One of the most profound changes our human society is undergoing is our ubiquitous use of ICT in all our human knowledge and social systems. Our society relies on teachers to provide learning opportunities and instructional support to our citizenry, from pre-k to adult learning, and yet, there appears to be a dearth of knowledge about how teachers learn, and how they learn to teach with, about, and through ICT devices, software applications, and network infrastructures.

Part of my work with this literature review is to prepare my presentation for CSELP 2014 Symposium taking place on February 22, 2014 at the Segal Graduate School of Business, in Vancouver, BC. The topic of this symposium is the idea of changing technocratic conceptions of digital technologies in the service of education to think of our relationships with digital technologies and the multitudinous ways learning takes place when we engage media, networks, libraries, and temporary connections in shared interests and issues. It appears one of our most urgent, and necessary tasks, is to actually understand how teachers learn: how they learn to change their beliefs, their practices, their technological knowledge, their pedagogical practices, and their inter-collegial cultures for learning, and learning to change, particularly with regards to digital technologies for learning, and digital technologies in society.

I think it is safe to say there is not one teacher in British Columbia who shares identical ICT beliefs, practices, pedagogy, and online learning relationships, with any other teacher in this province. The fact is that every teacher has a unique history that has informed the formation of their relationship with digital technology in their professional practice. At the same time, many teachers have experienced similar phenomena and ICT events with their colleagues that have shaped their beliefs, attitudes, pedagogy and practice. I would argue that one of the most important steps we can take to transforming educational uses of digital technologies is to share our stories about our encounters with ICT in practice: in the staff room, at professional development events, and above all, in our classrooms. We need productive opportunities to talk about where we have come from, and where it might be possible for us to go. These discussions must be informed by the work of others, by research and literature that can broaden our perspectives and deepen our understandings. We won’t truly engage 21st century learning in our education system until we have made sense of what it means to do this, and we can’t make sense of it if we don’t talk about it.

I look forward to the day when every education professional in this province considers themselves a ‘thought leader’ (and discussion leader) as we formulate a vision for learning, digital technology, and cultures of connectivity in British Columbia. The stories we share become the research literature we can draw on to inform our imaginings for a dynamic, evolving, knowledge-generative ecology of learning in BC education.

The Online Education Revolution Drifts Off Course : NPR #edtech #edchat

The Online Education Revolution Drifts Off Course : NPR.

I work at the intersection of culture and technology in the field of education. There has never been a better time for professional educators to take the lead in shaping the future of education. In order to do this, they must commit to changing educational beliefs and practices with regards to digital technologies.

The NPR article cited in this blog post highlights the emerging complexity of institutionalized education. At one time the challenge was equipping educational institutions with digital technologies so that teachers could ‘keep up’ with evolving societal engagements with digital technologies. The development and promotion of MOOCs illustrates an extension of this problem: the commodification of educational ‘products’ purported to replace social and relationship-based educational processes. If teachers perceived their roles and responsibilities were threatened to be usurped by machines and software in their schools, that issue pales alongside the threat of teacher presence being replaced by websites and online discussion boards.

Educators’ response to these changes and challenges in the past has been to say, “This is not my concern,” or, “I don’t teach that way.” However, teachers’ non-involvement with digital technologies is a tacit form of approval for the incursion of digital technologies from other professions – business, computer science, economics, and administration. By actively avoiding the development of a coherent response to digital technologies in education, teachers have endorsed others to do so, and the results have everything to do with profit metrics and very little to do with real teaching, learning, relevant curriculum development and evolving pedagogy.

There is much for educators to do, first and foremost, to become leaders in their field: to bring masterful knowledge of the social life of teaching and learning, highly sophisticated understandings of the relational intricacies that foster enthusiasm for learning, commitment to endure the difficulty of learning, and self-efficacious practices to accomplish sometimes dull, sometimes systematic persistence to complete learning projects. The digitization of learning activities does not equal good learning, just as sitting in a classroom does not denote exceptional learning experiences. These are not mutually exclusive enterprises, they are, however, contested and demand a vigorous educational response.

I argue that the field of education has done a great disservice to itself in its failure to appreciate the significance of teacher learning and teacher education. I have just completed reviewing over 3,000 titles of education research pertaining to digital technology published in since 2010. On average, the ratio of research topics pertaining to student learning in relation to teacher learning and teacher education is extremely out of balance, in the order of 20 titles pertaining to student learning with digital technologies to every title addressing digital technology in teacher learning and teacher education. This preliminary finding leads me to conclude that the field of education is not well informed about teacher learning and teacher education with regards to digital technologies. I propose this lack of information is contributing to a lack of real leadership and direction from educational practitioners when it comes to shaping the future of education in the digital age.

The above mentioned article about MOOCs and online education highlights the problem. The absence of adequate and substantive, ongoing research into teacher learning and teacher education with digital technologies means there is a gap in knowledge about teaching and learning. Until teachers take up the challenge of researching and publishing their own findings on the significant aspects of learning as philosophical, social, cultural, relational, psychological, curricular, and pedagogical expressions of complex inter-personal communications, there is going to be a continued absence of this knowledge in the field.

Lectures are not inherently bad, although boring lectures are very difficult to learn from. Online resources are not inherently good, however exceptional online resources can foster learning in ways unimaginable. In class learning relationships are not inherently productive, and dynamic face to face learning encounters can inspire a lifetime of inquiry. Communicating through network media is not necessarily anonymous and anti-social: networks of learning relationships can yield knowledge and information unavailable within local geographies or social connections.

There is a profound need for educators to take up the challenge of providing learning leadership in the digital age. To take up this challenge, educators need to consider their own professional learning through, with, and about digital technologies as an ethical imperative of the profession, not an add-on to existing practice. We cannot predict what changes this conceptualization of the profession will entail. We do know what will happen if we maintain the status quo. The work of learning and shaping our future social consciousness will fall to those whose primary motivation may or may not hold the social good as its guiding principle. Whatever the intentions that motivate these non-educators, they cannot possess the hard-won knowledge of building productive learning relationships that is at the heart of every passionate educator. These are the professionals that we need to bring leadership the field in the 21st century.

The first step to enacting the transformation of the education is to talk about the condition of the field, digital cultures and technologies, and learning. We need these conversations to begin the process of critically inquiring into our own philosophical, social, cultural, curricular, and pedagogical transformations, and consequently, the transformation of the field. Through these conversations we build our own professional learning relationships sustained by networked media and our intrinsic belief that the contribution of educators is imperative to the future of the field of education. As we implement changes to our practice, we have a system of support enacted through personal learning networks online and in our local schools. We develop the enthusiasm, commitment, and self-efficacy to endure the uncertainties of bringing digital technologies into school settings, the ambiguity of conducting formal learning through online connectivity, and the sometimes dull, sometimes intriguing processes of learning with, through, and about digital technologies in the education profession.

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