Title

Understanding the evolution of teacher-generated projects in an advanced technology test-bed

Date of Award

1999

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Instructional Design, Development and Evaluation

Advisor(s)

Steven T. Bossert

Keywords

Technology integration, Project-based, Collaboration, Staff development

Subject Categories

Curriculum and Instruction | Education | Instructional Media Design | Teacher Education and Professional Development

Abstract

This dissertation seeks to understand the evolution of teacher-generated projects within an advanced technology test-bed, Syracuse University's Living SchoolBook (LSB). In this test-bed, teachers were invited to examine the possibilities for various technologies in real classroom settings. The projects were developed in collaboration with a telecommunications company, Syracuse University, and three schools (a middle school and two high schools) in upstate New York. This was a qualitative study designed to understand the events and interactions of the teachers and their students as they developed these projects. The primary questions for this study were: (1) What are the types of projects in which teachers choose to engage? (2) What are the core features of the projects that evolve? (3) How do the core features compare across the projects?

Four descriptive case studies addressed these questions. Initial data collected as a part of the natural history of the Living SchoolBook (LSB) including email, journals, meeting agendas, publicity, video tapes of meetings, helped to frame the investigation. Additional data sources included interviews and field notes from participant observation and videotaping of classrooms and project activities. A framework for analysis of web-based projects was developed.

Emerging from the cases is a model for the development of collaborative projects and the planning of project-based learning. A second finding emerging from across the cases is counterintuitive to traditional assumptions about teachers progression through stages of staff development. Most models of technology innovation imply that teachers must go through developmental stages, always starting at the simplest or lowest level of sophistication. Teachers in this study, however, were able to "leap-frog" to the invention stage immediately as a result of the support structure that was built around them. Other findings shed light on embedded professional development, creation of a classroom culture of innovation and collaboration, the exploration of learning outside the boundaries of the traditional classroom setting, and video conferencing as a vehicle for cultivating an authentic learning environment.

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