John P Egan's FCP E-Portfolio

Archive for October, 2011

confessions of an educationalist supremist

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A few years ago I was at a dinner party, at which the host introduced me to a colleague. Said colleague was a great teacher (Killam I believe) and was finding their feet in educational research. I politely listened to their work, made a few toothless comments about how interesting it sounded. While I quietly seethed.

It’s true, I had–have, to a lesser extent–a chip on my shoulder about those not trained in educational research doing such research because of their subject matter expertise. I see this significantly differently now; reflecting about this has been rather useful to my practice as a researcher. Including a smidge of hypocrisy on my part…

Dedication, industriousness and planning are attributes of most excellent teachers…but not all teachers who are dedicated, industrious, and who plan well are excellent teachers. A minority probably are mediocre teachers–or worse. Of those that are good teachers–or great teachers–the ability to teach effectively doesn’t also make one a good educational researcher. In terms of staff development, too many subject matter experts are abandoned when they begin their teaching careers (“you’re an expert; you’re ready to teach”). So why would we encourage instructors to engage in SoTL work without an appropriate amount of training? Suffice to say Heather Kanuka’s (2011) article resonated with me.

Which speaks to the value of the FCP.

Ah but then…I have a PhD in education–but in adult education. My research areas of expertise are in health promotion, community education, and social justice education. You’ll notice there’s no mention of course design, pedagogical methods, evaluation or assessment. Because they were not part of my doctoral studies. They were, however, part of my practice as an educator–higher education most recently. My magistral studies included coursework on program planning (curriculum design) and learning theory though. And I’ve certainly planned, delivered, and evaluated all sorts of courses and programs.

But trained in SoTL research? No. Trained in social research methods? Oh yes: ethnography, surveys (correlational design), mixed methods, discourse analysis. Thus in terms of research paradigms, I’m not finding the materials of the FCP challenging–they’re the world I’ve lived in as a researcher for years. It’s the transfer of knowledge to its new application that presents the challenges for me.

On principle SoTL is important and of merit; it needs to be done well though: with rigour, using solid methods. Or, what Kreber (2007) calls “authentic practice”.


Kanuka, H. (2011). Keeping the Scholarship in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 5(1).

Kreber, C. (2007). What is it really all about? The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning as an Authentic Practice. nternational Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 1(1).


Written by John P Egan

October 21st, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Note to self

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Be sure to integrate the use of communcation tools (including Wimba) into your study design.

Written by John P Egan

October 21st, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

SoTL Project: ETEC565A: an examination of the transfer of learning from an online post-graduate educational technology applications course

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This is a preliminary draft…feedback appreciated….


In 2009 the Faculty of Education has piloted a new applications course: Learning Technologies Selection, Design and Application (ETEC565A), a three credit, one term course, in its Master of Educational Technology (MET) program. To date over 200 students have completed this course. ETEC565A currently making its way through the course approvals process to have it become a permanent course as ETEC545.

This course, developed by John P Egan, Jeff Miller and Michelle Lamberson with contributions from numerous CTLT and MET partners, integrates structured inquiry while also allowing learners a great deal of flexibility. Five modules consisting of a total of 13 (one week) units cover:

  1. Theoretical Frameworks
  2. Spaces, Places and Platforms for Learning
  3. Interaction and Assessment Tools
  4. Social Media
  5. Multimedia

In addition to multiple formative assessment points, summative assessment is conducted via a combination of an e-portfolio and the creation of a Moodle learning management system (LMS) course site. The assignments summatively assessed are:

  • LMS proposal (10 points)
  • LMS quiz or exam (15 points)
  • Digital story based on pedagogical reasons (20 points)
  • Complete LMS site with a broad spectrum of functional requirements (25 points)
  • A final course synthesis reflection about overall course experience (20 points)

The remaining 10 points are a participation grade based on the calibre and frequency of both their individual contributions to learning activities and of their responses to their colleagues’ contributions.

The range of technical competencies among MET students is broad. Many of our students bring professional web design, multimedia production, or online course creation skills—but many also come in with none such skills. These assignments can be completed at a fundamental, functional level and receive a good mark: to receive an excellent mark the quality of work must be more polished and sophisticated.

Another key aspect of the design is the use of narratives in most units. These fictive scenarios position the unit’s topic in the context of educational practice. Each employs an active learning strategy, such as inquiry-based or problem-based learning, where a peer is asking for the student’s informed opinion as an educational technology professional. As each unit is completed the instructor synthesizes the discussion, adds his own experience, and deconstructs the pedagogical design of the unit.

Additionally, ETEC565A/545 requires students to self-assess their skills, in order to identify and prioritize any new skills to be acquired, as well as how existing skills might be expanded or refined. The course eLearning toolkit is designed as a self-directed resource for students to achieve this. Each page of the toolkit has one or more concrete “how to” learning activities to get students started, along with additional resources to explore. Since students decide which skills, which activities, and when to explore the toolkit, both flexibility and a self-direction are required.



The SEoT data and informal feedback about the course is overwhelmingly positive: few students rank the course less than Very Good or Excellent in CoursEval. But these data don’t allow us to drill down deeper into the specifics of the course, its delivery, and how and why students find success—or struggle to do so.

I propose an exploratory study available to all students who have completed ETEC565A. Data collection would be via an online survey and key informant interviews, which can be completed anonymously. Most questions would be quantitative (mostly Likert scaled questions), though a significant amount of qualitative data would be collected as well.

The research question is:

What are the perspectives of students who have completed ETEC565A, and its  impact on their practice as educators?

The survey would have nine sections:

    1. Professional experience (context, role, years experience)
    2. MET experience (progress through MET and motivations for enrolling in the MET
    3. Cases/narratives in 565A
    4. Elearning toolkit in 565A
    5. Formative assessment
    6. Summatively assessed assignments, including e-portfolio
    7. Learning community
    8. Impact on practice
    9. Overall assessment of the course and its value

Persons who complete the survey will be asked whether they are willing to participate in key informant interviews to discuss the preliminary findings of the survey. Interview questions would be derived from this preliminary analysis.

Written by John P Egan

October 7th, 2011 at 4:20 pm

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