Redeploying FARGO at UWindsor

Conducting research as a faculty member is not without its challenges, especially when you are collecting data from students that you teach in your own classes. I’m a design-based researcher. This means that I usually collaborate closely with teachers and developers to implement designs of innovative technologies or instructional interventions. When I’m in the dual role of design-researcher and instructor, things are a bit more complicated.

This fall,teachers’ work-to-rule campaigns in Ontario have made it necessary to revise the B.Ed. program calendar in my Faculty. Many teachers have decided not to take on extra-curricular activities or supervise student teachers in their classrooms. I fully support teachers’ decision to exercise their rights, but I also understand that this has upset my students’ (teacher candidates) expectations to have a placement classroom. Fortunately, our Associate Dean and Field Placement team have secured placements for the students, so the practicum has only been delayed an shortened by a few weeks.

Still, I’ve had to revise my B.Ed. instructional technology course outline as a result. It was bad for my teaching because I suddenly had far less time to prepare for innovative teaching practices (I was hoping to troubleshoot, over the practicum period, the old LEGO Mindstorms sets and software to help students engage in constructionist activities) and because I unexpectedly had much more marking than I had planned. I just can’t mark fast enough to release assignment grades to students as quickly as I would normally.

It also makes it more difficult to conduct research. It’s always a challenge, balancing writing of various proposals and papers for grants, conferences, chapters, articles, etc. while also collecting and analyzing data. I’m a learning sciences researcher, so I tend to examine learning processes at the intersection of psychology and technology. Technology requires design, development, deployment, and troubleshooting. Sometimes it doesn’t quite work as one would hope, but I keep trying. I am fortunate in that my technology development expert/collaborator also happens to be my partner and is very helpful. Still, re-deployment of FARGO last week hit a snag as students couldn’t login due to “server error.” This week, I couldn’t give students enough class time to complete their Facebook exercise. Next week, they have exams. Then they are on practicum and I don’t see them until December. The B.Ed. course is a full year course, so I will continue collecting data.

I am a pragmatist (and eternal optimist), so I hope that I can revise my ethics review board application to collect data in my graduate E-Learning course. That was what FARGO was originally intended for at UWindsor in the first place, since my area of expertise is in online graduate education. I better get to work on that, but first, back to marking!


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