Friday, August 27, 2010

Multimedia Week 1: Digital Storytelling

For my discussion board post this week I selected a quote from Digital Storytelling Cookbook by Joe Lambert, which states “When we hear stories, we listen for answers that we can relate to our own lives. Honoring self-narratives through creative expression with an audience in mind, even an audience of one, offers the opportunity to not only record and string together your insights, but change how others think and feel.”

A little over a year ago I created a blog ( and started writing.I initially started it because I had lost a lot of the journals I had compiled over the years as a result of Hurricane Ike and figured the web might be a “safer” place to record my thoughts.I began by documenting some of the events of the hurricane as well as the total loss of our home to a fire.Another reason I started the blog was to reach a specific audience with a message of faith and hope.What I discovered was that my writing became a very therapeutic for me as I recorded the insights I gained through the recovery and rebuilding process. I agree with Lambert that telling a story not only provides an opportunity to change others, but it also changes the storyteller as well.

A post by one of my classmates, Michael Alves, reminded me of a video that I watched yesterday from Ted Talks by David McCandless. McCandless states "It feels like we're all suffering from information overload or data glut. And the good news is there might be an easy solutioin to that, and that's using our eyes more. So, visualizing information, so that we can see the patterns and connections that matter and then designing that information so it makes more sense, or it tells a story, or allows us to focus only on the information that's important. Failing that, visualized information can just look really cool." 

The Beauty of Data Visualization

I agreed with Michael that we have to teach students the importance of not only visualizing information, but also creating connections that enable them to make sense of the information or tell a story.

Katherine Wade, another classmate, mentioned sermons in her post and I was glad because I have heard plenty in my lifetime. Since I am married to a preacher / pastor and am probably his world's worst critic! Her post reminded me that the greatest teacher who ever lived used parables, earthly stories with heavenly meanings, to get his message across to his followers (learners). He used illustrations or examples of things that they could relate to and brought it down to their level of understanding. I agree with Katherine that the most effective speakers are able to engage their audience and hold their attention by telling a story in such a way that it evokes emotion and leads to greater insight and transformation.

Lambert, J. (2007, February). Digital storytelling cookbook, p.15. Story Center. Retrieved August 24, 2010, from

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Action Research - Exploring Ways for Continuous Improvement

One insight that caught my interest from my readings during this course was the importance of scheduling a planned consistent time for reflection and inquiry. Taking time for reflection allows a greater sense of control and accomplishment, and enables leaders to make informed administrative decisions and to feel better about the important decisions they make on a day to day basis. I also came to understand the value of principals becoming a “head learner” and as Dr. Jenkins referred to in the video, a “servant leader” in order to be a role model for staff and students.

An area that I would like to explore more deeply is the idea of building interpersonal trust. I have worked in an environment in the past where there was little trust among staff and leadership and where the primary communication method was the grapevine which was often unreliable. I would like to discover more strategies for assessing and building the level of trust in an organization.

To continue building my applied knowledge in this area, I will conduct further research on this subject online and tag the articles under “trust” in my social bookmarking account, Diigo. I can also distribute the “Trust Inventory” found on page 10 of Examining What We Do To Improve Our Schools by Harris, Edmondson, and Combs, to our program staff and compile the results to determine if there are ways that we can improve in this area.

I agree with Matthew when he stated on the discussion board this week that many times we spend more time looking at quantitative data (i.e. test scores, progress reports, GPA's) than we do qualitative data. My approach to working with students is more like that of a case manager or counselor because that is how I was trained. I spend a great deal of time making notes about what I am observing with individual students but I find that I rarely take the time to compile or review what I have written to build a course of action that will help move the student forward toward his/ her goals. Something I learned is that you have to schedule times for action research in order for it to be effective and to become a habit. Blogging is a tool that I can use to help me accomplish this task. Taking the time to look at the numbers coupled with my observations as well as getting input from other program staff would help me get a better picture of the student in order to address his / her needs.

Problem solving is a major focus in my role as an advisor and I agree that research and inquiry are critical skills to impart to college students. Sometimes I teach those skills, and other times I must simply model them. Students often look to me as a problem solver, but if I teach them how to look for and find the answers to their own problems, it will make my job a lot easier and make me a more effective leader.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Action Research Plan Consensus

The following article is written as part of an assignment for Week 4 of my Research course for Educational Technology Leadership. 

I met with my site mentor, Andrea Stephenson, to review and discuss the Action Research Plan for Student Support Services. As we reviewed the plan it was determined that we should meet on a monthly basis to review the progress toward completion of the plan. As SSS program director, Andrea has been working on the yearly program calendar and decided that the plans for professional development for staff could be added to our schedule.

Andrea also was able to recommend some websites to begin looking for information on research that has been done on motivational methods to implement in working with first generation college students. Andrea is also a first generation college graduate, as I am, which highly qualifies her as an expert on this topic. She has also presented academic enhancement workshops at the university sharing information to students to help them with budgeting, finding financial resources, and staying out of debt.

Andrea and I agreed that the focus of our data review should be to not only look at the reason students fail or drop out of college, but also the contributing factors as to why they are successful. Andrea liked the ideas of creating a blog to share the research findings and as a way of soliciting comments from students and advising staff. She also felt that the brochure was a good opportunity to reinforce the staff training and provide consistency in identifying barriers and addressing the needs of first generation students. She suggested that we use multimedia to present the successful student interviews as one of our motivational methods by placing them on the SSS website in order to encourage other students in reaching their goals.

We also discussed the fact that lack of consistency in advising staff in the past may have been a contributing factor to student’s failure to be successful in the program. She suggested that we may want to pull some prior program data to draw some comparisons from previous year’s retention rates to compare to the present since we have had a higher rate of consistency in advising staff for the past year. These additions and revisions will be added to the Action Research Planning Template as part of our strategic planning for the new program year.