A reflection about data collection and rethinking my methods

This week Heather and I hosted the class twitter session; we brainstormed some questions beforehand and traded off posing questions to the group.  Everyone has started to collect data, something we have been anxiously waiting for, so it was good to be able to check in early in the week for initial thoughts and updates.  It also seems that many of us are dealing with some “disruptions” to our data collection at school and at home – spring break, appointments, tournaments, testing, projects, absences, etc.  With three weeks for data collection, I think we will be able to work around some of these conflicts but it certainly adds to the self-imposed stress that we feel about having “enough” data.  For my own research, I know I will have a mountain of data, so my issues are not with amount but with being able to triangulate my collected data.  I have not had much success getting the four teachers to commit to individual interview times, but the PLN had a great suggestion, to create a schedule of interview time slots that teachers can sign up for during these remaining two weeks.

My observations have been going well and I’ve noticed that it is getting easier as I get to know my “subjects” better.  The first two days were a bit sporadic, sometimes the teachers were moving around a lot and other times they wouldn’t move for long periods of time.  I’m learning the importance of discipline in my observation process, to wait and observe and not worry too much about whether my observations are effective.  As I became more familiar with each teacher’s movement and methods in the game, it became easier to see a pattern or management style.  It will be important for me to get my interview questions answered so I can compare what teachers articulate about their classroom management strategies and my own observations of their in-game management.

I read through most of the blogs and commented on several of them that I felt I understood enough of what was being collected.  It’s interesting to see the diversity of topics and strategies and has made me think more about how I will continue my own research projects; it is encouraging to see that our research can be as small-scale as we need or are able to manage, as long as we are able to answer our questions and get different perspectives and types of data.  I have also learned that it’s important to get buy-in from individuals or groups that are part of my research and to consider how they will be involved.  I had assumed that since I would be training teachers to facilitate the Givercraft experience that they would be able to answer my interview questions.  Now I am realizing that they might not necessarily feel connected to what I am doing and are too busy to accommodate my request for interviews.  I also think it could be intimidating to be interviewed about your classroom management and use of tools and strategies in the game when you are not that familiar with it or it’s your first time using the game.  It may be that my interviews should be a wrap-up activity for the teachers that also combines feedback about the experience and what they (and their students) have gained from their participation.

This coming week, I am only observing one (1) teacher since the others will be on spring break.  The participating class will only meet on three (3) days throughout this week so I plan to start consolidating my raw data to be analyzed after data collection is completed.  I am feeling optimistic about the timeline that I have for data collection and am grateful for a “lighter” week so that I can regroup and organize what I have so far.  The major change in the game is that there will be several game features that will be enabled as part of the scenario that students will use over the next two weeks.  This will significantly impact how teachers will participate in the game so I am interested in being able to observe one teacher this week and get a better understanding of how my observation methods might need to be changed.

I am currently working on designing an online course for a MinecraftEdu reading club as my assignment for the OLTAK (Online Learning and Teaching) course.  It’s possible that in the future I could either teach this course or train teachers to  use it with their students.  This research process is helping me understand what is expected of teachers and how I need to incorporate my findings into my course design.  I am also excited about the opportunity to continue this research study with teachers that will use my online course.

Any thoughts, feelings, opinions, suggestions?

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