LSIS Action Research 2013 by Hannah Tyreman

For those of you who are unaware, LSIS are closing their doors and the FE Guild is currently under development. I am certain that the chosen setting of their final annual research conference reflected the frantic spending of money before it was all lost forever.

This post will attempt to summarise the main messages to come out of the day.

The conference began with an assertion of the  importance of  carrying out action research:

John Elliott’s keynote speech focused on the importance of collaboration in achieving these three things through research.

Communities of practice
John suggested that the best way of conducting research is collaboratively in order that there are a range of professional perspectives offered on the issue being investigated. The problems posed by communities of practice are mainly logistical and time related. The advantages are endless.

These ‘communities of practice’ could be created across a single department, several departments or across colleges, schools and universities in the local area. This wider collaboration offers unique opportunities to work alongside other curriculum experts. If all research is limited to an individual approach then the learning situation will only ever be seen from an often unreliable and isolating single perspective.

Further to these ‘communities of practice’, the Japanese lesson study was described.

Japanese Lesson Studies

1. All the teachers in the group observe a lesson
2. Learners are interviewed
3. Post lesson conference takes place
4. Lesson redesigned and second teacher teaches- cycle again and again and again… until the lesson is refined fully
5. Main findings of the whole cycle are published in some way and shared in the local area to build on the findings

Softer version- 1 teacher, feedback, another teacher revises and that is broadcast- so fewer cycles!

If you’d like to explore the Japanese lesson study- CLICK HERE and HERE

John’s main message was that research has become individualised. Space needs to be given to collaborative development so that practice can improve exponentially.

Involving Students

Learners should be central to the research process. This is already the case in most action research that takes place but what if the learners could lead the research themselves?

Within a department, a number of learners could be trained each term and they could carry out some research into their chosen aspect of their teachers’ practice. Although this poses many difficulties, it also creates a number of exciting possibilities.

Students could find problems for enquiry in the lesson
They would express their own ideas and develop lines of enquiry
They would discuss problems, ideas and evidence
They would test hypotheses and evaluate evidence

How mobile technology can improve collaborative study from Cathy Clarkson @cathywint and Luke Stockdale @lstockdale28

Cathy and Luke began their presentation by commenting on how quickly technology is changing in education. One look at this site and you’ll be able to see that: Top 100 learning tools

They outlined the aims of their ipad project and used Frank Coffield’s analogy of the student and teacher relationship being one of pure collaboration to the point where they should become the co-riders of a tandem bicycle where the student sits at the front- CLICK HERE

The most useful things that came out of the ipad project were:

  1. iTunes U and TED Talks for video content
  2. Face time for tutorials
  3. Social networking for contacting students and sharing resources
  4. Calendar function for organisation between teacher and student- setting deadlines and meetings
  5. Note-taking tools- especially with the inclusion of picture and video content (worked really well for students with dyslexia).

Improvements for the future included:

  • Having easy to access, reliable Wifi
  • Support sessions for staff and students who are less IT literate

See the developments in the project more fully HERE

Independent learning through collaboration

This teacher had explored the use of Wiggio (CLICK HERE) to support collaborative working outside of class. Google Communities can be used in much the same way.

He is looking to develop independent study champions in the new year. These would be students adept at using the technologies effectively, as role models for other students.

Study Den on Facebook from @DerwenCollege
The greatest thing that struck me about this project was that the students involved in the project had been brought along to present in collaboration with their teachers- Coffield’s tandem in action! Essentially, this Facebook page had lead to autistic students working well together on English and Maths. The students involved had previously found it particularly difficult to work alongside others in a standard classroom situation. This kind of project seriously highlights the advantages of embracing technology in teaching!

ESOL- The Net Generation from Sohail Sayed @Mrcoolteacher

Does the use of digital media enhance learning?

This research had used some assertions from David Crystal (CLICK HERE) as its basis. His main point was that each teacher should develop a tailor-made strategy of using digital media to enhance their students’ learning. In and out of class opportunities can be developed to maximise their literacy development. He mentioned the dialogical approach to teaching to enhance teaching practice and ensure there is communication with learners to make decisions on subject matter and methods.

For those of you interested in action research, take a look at the following:

SUNCETT at Sunderland University- CLICK HERE

The International Journal for Lesson and Learning Studies- CLICK HERE

Conact John Elliott, UEA, to submit research findings  john.elliott@uea.ac.uk

British Educational Research Association – CLICK HERE

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