A reflection on being inspired and enlightened through this research process

I am starting to appreciate that our twitter sessions happen early in the week; it’s helpful to touch base with others about our assignments, challenges, helpful resources, and needs for the rest of the week.  It sets the tone for collaboration and helps me to stay connected with the progress of others.  This week I spent some time reviewing my research and using the theoretical framework and research question resources to hone in on my own themes and specific questions.  I was able to chat with other peers in other courses about the scope of my research study and what forms of data collection would be appropriate.  The energy from the SEACCR PLN has been inspiring this week; there is great dialogue and interaction on the blogs and everyone is contributing useful feedback.  Reading other blogs and learning about data collection methods (and terms) from the other research studies has prompted me to return to my own project and consider which methods are most appropriate and effective for my purposes.  I struggle when I am on my own thinking about how I should collect data, so learning about how various methods will be used by others has been helpful.

Kerri and I were able to meet in a Hangout call to discuss our research topics, framework themes, and specific questions and variables.  Learning about her specific focus in her research helped me to understand how I needed to be disciplined in my own research and not get carried away with all the possibilities of data collection.  I am learning from others that all data that I collect will need to be analyzed and summarized in my research, so I need to focus on methods that will help me to answer my research questions within my theoretical framework.  I am also noticing and understanding now that our methods and variables need to be challenged and viewed from different perspectives so that we can understand the context of our findings after data collection.  This is where the PLN has been very helpful this week; as we “pick apart” our topics, frameworks, and research questions, it is helping us to consider our bias and get a sense of how our research is being received and perceived by our peers.

When I examine various resources about conducting research, I have seen various systems and processes for organizing information and developing each element or product at every stage of the process.  Each week as I’ve been focusing on a different aspect of my research process, I’ve been looking back at the previous parts and looking ahead at how each will fit into the overall project.  I found that this helps me to understand the context but to focus on the specific part or product that I am writing each week.  At first I thought it was difficult because I struggled to focus on a specific topic but once I understood that the process would lead me to a focused topic, it became much easier.  There seemed to be less pressure to “know” what the topic should be but to really gain an understanding of the research in order to determine a direction for my research study.

I am beginning to make important connections from my learning in this course and my other two courses (Differentiating Instruction with Technology and Online Learning and Teaching).  Learning about online learning theories and differentiation through technology has helped me in my research.  I have a broader understanding of the history and development of online learning theories and this informed my research to find studies that were related to my topic.   At the same time, learning about differentiating instruction with technology has helped me to consider different methods for collecting data in my study and how that will demonstrate a range of tools and strategies that teachers use in MinecraftEdu.  I am also excited because I am beginning my own research project with my former employer, Oasis For Girls (www.sfoasis.org).  I am beginning research into evidence-based practices that support their current gender-specific programming model and eventually I will be helping them to align their curriculum with Common Core State Standards.

Like many of my peers, I’m beginning to see the research process come together and take shape and I’m excited about data collection, something I did not think I would be saying so early in the process!

Any thoughts, feelings, opinions, suggestions?

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