Using insider research to study teacher engagement with video conferencing in first year classes

Video Conferencing ScreenImage by mikecogh via FlickrNicola Westbury opened with an overview of the background to the study, and highlighted some issues such as the danger of disconnestion in large classes (Nicol, 2010) and how educators respond to technology education. The researchers used insider research “an individual who posseses intimate knowledge of the community and its members” (Labaree, 2002, p. 100). While aspects identified in this definition offers some great benefits, there are also ethical considerations.

There were 4 large (800 to 1000 students in first year classes, 17 lecturers and 6 key informating, and the initiative was rolled out in 2011 semester one. The use of video conferencing was trialled to simultaneously connect four lecture venues in Auckland. There were quite a few issues, and the initiative has only run in semester 1.

Data was collected via a range of means including group interviews and videoing of the sessions. One of the thing that came out is that teachers are now expected to take on roles as technicians – often involving the carrying around the hardware. Uncertainty was a problem, and technical issues were a constant bugbear – sometimes the technology worked beautifully and other times it didn’t. Emerging themes include changes as teacher, and identity.

English: System diagram: How vzRoom users comm...Image via Wikipedia

Insider research has been powerful and has allowed access to backstage areas of teaching. The repeated contact to collagues has been very positive. The use of implicit knowledge and credibility has grown and there has been a growth in credibility. There are, however, power relationships within the workplace. The data has not been used in an evaluative way, and this means making decisions around, for example, using the data outside the scope of the research study. Limitations also include being too embedded.

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About ictenhancedlearningandteaching

I am a director and consultant at Ethos Consultancy NZ ( I have a keen interest in all aspects of ICT Enhanced Learning and Teaching (ICTELT) where the focus lies on ways of scaffolding and empowering learners. In particular, I am interested in the way that creative, blended approached to Academic Professional Development can create trust, rapport and encourage reflective practice. As such, ICTELT is approached from facilitation, design, evaluation and assessment as opposed to the tools and what they can offer. I am a strong advocate of the potential of Web 2.0 to empower learners from all walks of life and cultures, especially after my experiences working for 6 years in the Middle East. In particular, I am interested how ePortfolios can be used in the VET sector (especially where Literacy and Language challenges are faced), in Recognition of Prior Learning, and in authentic, applied assessment. I have been involved with designing and developing ICTELT approaches and programmes for ten years. Following research informed approaches and design, I apply a qualitative, iterative process to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions, programmes and tools, encouraging learners' voices and input from all stakeholders.
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