P O R T A L S , P R A C T I T I O N E R S , A N D P U B L I C K N O W L E D G E : A S O C I O - T E C H N I C A L A N A L Y S I S OF D I G I T A L T E A C H E R E D U C A T I O N B y L I S A ( E L I S A B E T H ) M A R I A K O R T E W E G A THESIS S U B M I T T E D I N P A R T I A L F U L F I L L M E N T O F T H E R E Q U I R E M E N T S F O R T H E D E G R E E O F D O C T O R OF P H I L O S O P H Y in T H E F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E S T U D I E S (Centre for Cross-Faculty Inquiry) T H E U N I V E R S I T Y OF B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A 29 July 2005 ©2005 Lisa Korteweg Abstract This study of professional development portals developed by the U B C research consortium, the Public Knowledge Project, analyzes the research, design and implementation of these P D portals from a social as well as technological perspective. The P K P teacher education portals are examined as socio-technical systems: networks of technology, information artifacts, and people and practices interacting with the larger world of teacher education, professional knowledge practices, and educational technologies. For a teacher education portal to be accessible and usable, the users, the knowledge documents, the portal infrastructure, and the social context must be in a continuous process of enrollment and translation, aligning each other into chains of association, moving towards the goal of stabilization or realizing the portal's network. The thesis asks how we can move towards a socio-technical analysis of professional development portals in order to stave off a techno-determinist evaluation of technological artifacts that result in accounts of either doomsday failure or hypothetical success. I turn instead to an analysis of how two P K P portals made empirical differences in practitioners' professional lives and their knowledge practices, and what studying portals might tell us about information, knowledge, and social processes in teacher education. The chapters, using both empirical and analytical methods, examine the social impact of the P K P portals and the web of social and material relations in which the portals were embedded; two social worlds of teaching -pre-service and in-service- where both groups were grappling with the issues of knowledge and computer practices flooding into teaching via the Internet. Table of Contents Abstract i i Table of Contents i i i List of Figures v i i Acknowledgments vi i i Dedication ix C H A P T E R 1 . .' 1 Introduction 1 Event 1: Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia (Spring 1999) 1 Event 2: Salmon Island School District (Autumn 2001) 3 Event 3: Mainland District (Winter 2001) 5 Portals, Practitioners and Public Knowledge 8 Complexity of Portals, Practitioners and Public Knowledge 10 Thesis Statement 12 Plan of the Study 17 C H A P T E R 2 '. 20 A Literature Review of Teacher Education and Educational Technologies 20 Introduction 20 Un-usability and Inaccessibility of Educational Research 21 Teachers as Isolated Knowledge Practitioners 23 Models of Teacher Knowledge in Teacher Education 26 Conceptions of Teacher Knowledge 26 Facilitation and Mediation in Emancipatory Teacher Education 30 Problems of Sustainability and Scalability in Teacher Education 34 Models of Education Communities 36 Epistemic Communities in Education 39 What Educational Technologies can offer Teacher Professional Development 42 Complexities of Employing Technologies to Address Social Problems (Informatics) .... 45 Digital Epistemic Community Portals 46 Need for a Socio-technical Approach 48 C H A P T E R 3 50 Socio-technical Theories and Tools for Analysis 50 The Network 55 The Actors 57 Displacement, Translation, Enrollment, and Obligatory Passage Points 59 Resistance 61 Purpose and Method of ANT Terminology 64 Black-boxing 64 Intermediaries 66 Inscriptions and Epistemic Communities 67 Complexity and Socio-technical Analysis 68 i i i The Case of Aramis 69 Transformative Technologies for Teacher Education .72 Conclusion 75 C H A P T E R 4 77 Setting the Study: Locating the Contexts. 77 Overview of Public Knowledge Project 77 Prototype 1: PKP-VanSun (March-May 1999) 79 Description of the Prototype 80 Discussion Forums 83 User Results and Site Statistics 83 CITE Pre-service Site (October 1999-February 2000) 85 Webquest Assignment and the Context of the Study 87 Statistics and Results 90 NETTL the In-service Program (April 2000 to February 2001) 91 Who is NETTL and how is it unique? 93 Specifics of the NETTL Program 94 Choice of NETTL as a Site of Implementation 96 EdX the Prototype 97 Tracking Statistics and General Usability Results of EdX 105 Methodological Approaches in PKP-VanSun and EdX. 109 Connections of Purpose Across the PKP Experiments 111 C H A P T E R 5 113 Methodologies for Portals: Departing from Usability, Problematizing Participatory Action Research, and Reconciling Infrastructure 113 Introduction 113 Multiple Phases, Multiple Methodologies 116 My Researcher Stances 118 Phase 1: Designing and Constructing for Usability 120 Phase 2: Participatory Action Research with Portals 125 Problem of Participatory Methodologies with Professional Development Portals 127 Phase 3: A Socio-technical Methodology 132 Socio-technical Methodology for Post-Implementation Analysis 135 Conspicuous Methodological Challenges 139 Conspicuous Infrastructure 140 My Stance of Reluctance in Acknowledging Infrastructure 141 Methodologies for Teacher Professional Development Portals 143 Issues of Validity, Reliability, Generalizability 144 C H A P T E R 6... '. 150 PKP-VanSun and C I T E : The Case of Inverted Hollywood 150 Artifacts as Narratives 150 Master Narratives in Technologies 151 How Portal Narratives Can Learn from Movie Pitches 153 Movie Pitch Structure 155 iv PKP Movie Pitch for Pre-Service Teacher Education 158 Set-Up: The PKP-Vancouver Sun Prototype 159 PKP-VanSun Sequel: The CITE Empirical Example 161 Summary of the Actors 167 Movie Scenes: Connections in the Gender Discussion..... 167 Key Scenes: Disconnections in the Gender Discussion 170 Assistants to the Heroes: The Pivotal Role of the External Mediators 174 Frailty of the PKP Prototype in Comparison to Hollywood Movies 184 Final Pitch 186 Last Pitch of PKP- VanSun 188 Part II The Empirical Chapters 147 C H A P T E R 7 190 E d X : The Intermediaries' Tacit Successes 190 EdX, the In-service Teacher Education Portal 190 Desire for Participatory Action Research 192 Work of Professional Development Portals 193 Invisible Work of Intermediaries 194 Using EdX 195 Knowledge Work on EdX 199 Connecting With a Researcher and Research Methodology 205 Similarities between the Cases: Findings from the Comparison of Two portals: PKP-VanSun and EdX 212 Intermediary Work of Deborah (EdX) and Caroline (PKP-VanSun) 216 Epistemic Leverages of the Intermediaries 217 Problematic Costs of Intermediaries and Portals 221 Conclusions •• 224 Sustainability of Portals and Knowledge Networks 226 C H A P T E R 8 : 229 The E d X Trials 229 Socio-technical Trials 231 Dualisms of User-Tester Perceptions 234 Social Context of the EdX Trials 236 Spokesperson Actors of NETTL: The Mentors 237 Affective Goal of Comfort in NETTL • 239 First Trial, First Theatre of Proof and First Resistance 241 Mentors and Comfort 243 EdX, Comfort, and Gender 245 Discomfort with Experimentation, Discomfort with EdX 248 IILocal Knowledge, Local Expertise 251 IIIInfrastructural Simplicity or Complexity 256 A Proprietary Software Developer 261 Controversy of Microsoft 261 Internet Explorer 5 263 v Privacy and Community 264 Private Knowledge, Public Knowledge 266 Final Trial ofEdX 268 Concluding Thoughts 271 C H A P T E R 9 274 Conclusions and Socio-technical Lessons Learned 274 Introduction 274 Section A: The Literature Reviews. 276 Teacher Professional Development 276 Readings of Latour and the Socio-technical Literature 280 Section B: The Empirical Chapters 288 Reframing Evaluation of Digital Professional Development Portals 288 Research-Design/Development-Evaluation 291 Socio-technical Lessons Learned (and remaining questions) 293 Automating Access to Knowledge or Seeking Disintermediation 302 Underestimation of Comfort, Pleasure, and Ease, with the Transparency of Infrastructure 305 Automating Epistemic Community 307 Portal Design Openings for the Future 309 Section C: Overall Conclusions 311 Bibliography 315 Appendices A Screenshots of the P K P Portals 331 B C I T E Education Studies WebQuest Assignment 337 C Chronology of EdX's Infrastructural Events 340 D Gender-Practices Overview Page in PKP-VanSun Portal 342 E Mentors' Walkabout Discussion on E d X (June 2000) 343 F Empirical Epilogue 345 vi List o f Figures Figure 1. Screen shot of PKP-VanSun Web site home page 82 Figure 2. Screen shot of E d X Web site home page with Information menu 100 Figure 3. E d X Registration or Log-on page 101 Figure 4. Linking Users through the People Menu Functions 104 Figure 5. E d X Projects Menu Listing Ongoing Discussions (e.g., "Features . . " O n l i n e Collaborative "The purpose of sharing .. ."). . . . 105 v i i Acknowledgments Finding reasons to be, to study, to write and to continue to pursue writing requires important influential people who I wish to recognize here. I begin with my advisor, John Wil l insky, who has been there from (before) the start and did not waiver in his support of my abilities, even humouring me through the rough patches and dry periods. This thesis would have never seen the light of publication without his intelligent editing and heartfelt encouragement. I thank John for being the type of advisor and academic who not only writes/speaks eloquently but is also wil l ing to put his ideas into empirical action through (portal) design and (practitioner) implementation. I want to thank the mentors, the instructors, and all those teachers who tried, tested, and responded to the P K P professional development portals. Their willingness to give their time and energy freely to this project was greatly appreciated. I would like to thank two individuals in particular, both direct participants in the P K P prototypes: V iv i an Forssman had the energy and passion to bring her project management talents to this world o f teacher education. I thank her for "being there" and her ongoing realistic optimism of what is tenable in educational technologies. A n d I also want to thank Diane Akey, a practitioner who intuitively understood the powerful knowledge potential of E d X and wanted to share her understandings publicly. I want to also thank those friends and fellow researchers, from our shared graduate experiences at U B C , who continue to inspire me through example and lead. Avner Segall, Brenda Trofanenko, and Jane Mitchell were there to listen, to question and to push me to critically think through ideas. I thank them for this very valuable colleague- and friend-work. I was also fortunate to have a committee that was able to accommodate my interdisciplinary interests and my timelines. Ken Haycock remained on this project from the very beginning and Jim Gaskell joined in to lend his support and knowledge of Latour. I would like to thank them for their expediency and professionalism. Finally, I want to recognize two people without whom and because of whom I wrote this thesis. M y son, Thilo Kees Peerla, not only learned to speak early for his age but he also quickly acquired the word "thesis". His love for computers and the Internet continue to remind me of the importance of addressing these educational tools by writing this thesis. David Peerla, an academic before I knew him, had the opportunity to relive the thesis experience a second time as well as the chance to learn exactly the opportune moment when to ask and when not to ask about the thesis. Without Thilo and David, I would not have found the deep reasons to be in this research, to write it, and to write again, and for that I am profoundly thankful. v i i i Dedication To Marianne Livant (1928-1998) and to Robert R. Alford (1928-2003) Wise elders who continue to inspire me . . . A n d to Larry Laurens Korteweg (1928-2000) M y father, whose love of education I continue to know, whose path I somehow continue to follow, and whose stories I continue to tell and live by. i x 1 C H A P T E R 1 Introduction The purpose of this thesis is to examine the relationships among teacher education, new digital environments for professional development such as portals, and public access to research and knowledge through portal prototypes. A starting point for my research has been a concept of public knowledge (Will insky, 1999; 2000; 2002) that has the potential to be achieved through digital, technical means, employed to connect users and resources in innovative and dynamic ways, and envisage a transformation or change mission for the roles of research knowledge informing and working within the practice o f teaching, potentially contributing to what is now being referred to as evidence-based practice. However, during the course of this research, the notion of a public knowledge portal and its transformational implications - that practitioners would want to access and inform their practice with research-based, public knowledge - became increasingly problematic, given the challenges raised by the participants to the very concept. What began as a clear beneficial purpose for the improved social use of educational technologies by educators, became simultaneously focused and displaced, rewarding and uncomfortable, appropriated and disowned in its implementation. Descriptions of three critical events that took place within the course o f this study wi l l help introduce the trajectory o f complexity that I experienced during the research period of this thesis. Event 1: Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia (Spring 1999) One day in the spring of 1999, in graduate student offices in the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia, Dr. John Wil l insky met with his research assistants 2 (myself, being one of these assistants) to discuss a collaborative experiment in-the-making with the Vancouver Sun newspaper that Wi l l insky referred to as the Public Knowledge Project (PKP) . The editors of the Vancouver Sun believed there was a lack of public discussion taking place on the complex issues pertaining to technology and education in B . C . schools. John Cruickshank, Editor in Chief, was convinced by Wil l insky to conduct an experiment in connecting research to journalism, and the newspaper proposed trying out this experiment with a series on technologies in schools. The P K P experiment's aim was to supplement and provide a richer context or knowledge background for the reader public: we were to create an online portal where newspaper coverage would be combined with online resources filtered from the web, assembled, indexed, and categorized by our Public Knowledge Project. The Vancouver Sun portal was designed by P K P to provide relevant web resources drawn from five knowledge domains: research, practices, policies, organizations and issues. The larger mission of P K P was to "participate in scholarly publishing experiments that explore the prospects of greater public access to educational research," with Wil l insky going on to set out five goals of such work: Such systems w i l l need to offer some form of (1) free and open access through a friendly web-browser interface to a substantial body o f research articles, reviews, and surveys, with connections to databases dedicated to educational policies and legislation, media coverage, curriculum materials and projects, organization and courses, etc.; (2) an indexing system that allows topics to be searched across a wide range of parameters, from population studied to research method; (3) a way of readily moving from a given research study to other related materials in other databases, such as media reports and government policies, and back again; (4) open forums for researchers, professional policymakers and public to discuss educational issues, methods, and research agenda; and (5) supporting resources such as indexes, summaries, commentaries, glossaries, reviews, F A Q s , and instructional modules. (Willinsky, 2002, p. 370) From this conceptual beginning, the Public Knowledge Project spun off a variety o f experimental prototypes, including the Educators' Exchange project in M a y 2000. The 3 Educators' Exchange (EdX) was designed to develop and test an online knowledge management system for teachers, l inking research and practice. The E d X prototype aimed to provide improved access to learning technology research, to assist the formation of online communities of practice, and to demonstrate the use of a web-based knowledge management system as a learning and sharing resource for teacher professional development. In its original formulation, P K P was a scholarly publishing experiment and its key ingredient was "good" content determined by factors such as provocative theory, solidly researched, and/or evidence-based resources. The research-designers, myself included, believed that build it, and i f it is 'good' content or knowledge, the public (intended audience) w i l l come and benefit.1 When P K P started, there were no comparable precedents. The Internet had become increasingly chaotic, endlessly proliferating documents on education, and the Public Knowledge Project's goal was to bring order to one very narrow channel, scholarly research bearing on educational issues, for the benefit o f an increasingly baffled and accountability-demanding public. Event 2: Salmon Island School District (Autumn 2001) October 2001 . It was another staff meeting to contend with after what seemed an endless crisis-ridden school day, contrasted against a gloriously bright fall afternoon. A staff of thirty-three teachers (including myself, a part-time teacher), two administrators, and a guest senior administrator from the district office of this Vancouver suburb, we sat in a large, relatively unbroken circle of tables in the school library. Our meeting space was located beside the stacks of books with a row of i-Macs sitting against a shared wall with an up-to-11 refer to the team of PKP decision-makers as the research-designers. I want to emphasize how university researchers were making design choices with each prototype decision as well as emphasize the roles of the hired technical designers (software developers, system managers, etc.) who translated or concretized the research ideas into technical application. 4 date computer lab visible through a large picture window. Only one computer was in use during the meeting: the secretary was taking minutes on the office laptop. The central topic of this monthly staff meeting was teacher professional development. Each teacher reported which provincial professional development (PD) workshop they were able to attend during the previous week's provincial P D day. A s we went around the circle, teachers spoke of experiences, resources and information that they found important and useful. However, after three teachers' reports, the names, events, and resources were basically lost to the assembled community of colleagues. The information, coded in the oral, dissipated into thin air. The resources of the school district for teachers' in-service and professional learning now remained in that individual teacher's short-term memory. It did not travel or transfer to other teachers during the staff meeting. It wasn't recorded, converted or translated into a form that would permit it to travel to a public place accessible to everyone, available for further discussion, connections or extensions. The secretary did not take notes of the teachers' professional development summaries, as they were not official administrative business but rather informal collegial knowledge sharing. We shared our in-service experiences, we shared our verbal knowledge, but it was not made into concrete or retrievable public records. The computers remained unused and the teachers' new knowledge remained solitary, disconnected, and episodic. M y frustration grew from personal experience and professional observation, as I realized how repeated this loss of professional knowledge and experience is in schools and with teachers. I recognized this instance as a typical case o f teachers acting as recipients of knowledge: they have acquired some information from outside organizations, keynote speakers, researchers and workshop leaders, but the institutional culture within which they 5 work does not actively encourage them to consider this knowledge as an active part of a collective practice, of teacher's practice as sharing new knowledge with colleagues. There are few institutional mechanisms in place for teachers to view themselves as active foragers, sources, and managers of knowledge for their own development or for the development of teaching. Technologies as inscription devices (Latour, 1987, p. 68; 1988, p. 83) or computer tools as mechanisms for inscribing, extending, and connecting teachers' knowledge with homogenous professional terms, these technologies are not recognized as active tools for teachers' knowledge work. Teachers, as knowledge workers, are still understood and institutionally confined to attend to their assigned students, generally isolated in their classroom space, and solitary in their professional growth and acquisition of knowledge. Event 3: Mainland District (Winter 2001) January 2001. It is a typical rainy winter day on the West Coast. In an administrative building of a large Vancouver suburban school district (Mainland), nine mentors or teacher-leaders are meeting with their university program instructor and myself, the researcher and implementer of a new P K P prototype. The Mainland District has designated these mentors as established leaders in educational technologies and classroom integration. The district is collaborating with a university extension programs department to organize and offer an educational technologies diploma program to one hundred teachers, both elementary and secondary. N E T T L (New Educational Technologies for Teaching and Learning) is a two-year professional diploma program of teacher self-study projects integrating educational 2In the thesis, I use the following stylistic convention regarding names: For the participants, to maintain anonymity, when they do not participate in direct conversation with me or with others, I use designations such as Mentor 1, Mentor 2, etc. For the participants who do participate in direct conversation and to maintain the flavor of conversations (both the online and offline), I use first name pseudonyms. When publications and published scholars are cited, I use their real last names. And when I refer to PKP members, from the University of British Columbia, I use their real names (first and last) with permission. 6 technologies into their classrooms and, in return, providing enough credits to augment teachers' pay categories. The N E T T L mentors have been targeted as the first line of implementation and in-service for PKP's professional development portal called the Educators' Exchange or EdX. EdX is a PD online knowledge management system constructed for a cohort of educators examining educational technologies, studying the technologies' curriculum integration, and, testing the technologies' effects in their own classrooms. At this decisive meeting (January 2 0 0 1 ) , after nine months of working with EdX, nine mentors discuss the future and fate of the EdX portal for their knowledge work as mentors of teacher-colleagues as well as their own work as classroom teachers. In the below comments, they are addressing me, the author, as the designer and implementer of EdX. The university instructor and mentor coordinator, Chris, was also in the room, leading and contributing to the decisive discussion. The general consensus of the meeting and the conclusion of EdX are summarized by the following selection of mentor comments: Mentor 1: A l l these documents [of EdX] can be found out there on the net and what you've tried to do is make it easier by putting them all in one place. But, unfortunately, there are people like me who are stubborn. So, we're going to go to all of our traditional places [on the Internet] and methods of doing it [finding knowledge] because that's the way we've always done it. Even though there is this one source, this one site, EdX, that has brought it all together, it is still easier for me to do it my way and I'm stubborn. Mentor 2: EdX isn't working for us. Face-to-face discussion and personal interaction is a lot more important to us than resources or research. It's faster and instant and I get what I want from people, from talking to them. The required minimum is what we're doing here [in research for this course]. There's no room for something that does not give us instant gratification. People are not interested in searching for resources or reading research on EdX because they are doing their own grassroots research. ... [Published] Research and papers are irrelevant to my mentees. Once they have done their own field research, it might become relevant to them to look and find out what other people have done or written. They might wonder how might I extend it [their research] or what have other people found out? We're really at 7 the grass-roots stage here [of professional development] where I don't care what other researchers or educators have done because I am doing my own research and I want to find out the information for myself. I don't care how many papers or resources are out there because it doesn't apply to me, it doesn't apply to my classroom and my situation ~ I want to find it out for me by myself. Mentor 3: M y students [ N E T T L mentees] would rather phone me. It's like we're going into too much of an electronic world where we have to communicate too much by email or discussion forums. W h y can't we just pick up the phone?? We're getting too dependent on the electronic world. I 'm not going to use E d X i f my mentees are not going there. In these comments, three N E T T L mentors state how they perceived the E d X portal as lacking in usability to satisfy their knowledge and communication needs and how they became unwill ing to take ownership for the E d X portal. Mentor 1, as representative of the majority of mentors (or "people like me"), describes his own "stubborn" resistances to the driving narrative or expectation of teacher knowledge practices as represented by E d X . He laments how the E d X tool embodies and promotes reform, even efficient commendable reform, to his own stubborn ineffective methods of finding knowledge resources and conducting digital research to inform his teaching practice. Mentor 2 bemoans the genre of knowledge he finds principally represented on E d X , which he defines as academic. This mentor believes there is little connection, or need for connection, between inside, localized, grass-roots practitioner research, on the one hand, and external, university-located, expert research, on the other. He views E d X as a static technology, reifying the university model of a repository of academic research texts. This mentor holds an epistemic position, which finds few l iv ing dynamic connections or human intermediaries existing between two solitary institutions of academic research (theory) and grass-roots classroom teaching (practice). 8 Finally, Mentor 3 briefly describes his impression of E d X as a dissuasive technology for teacher-to-teacher communication or collegial connections. He characterizes the non-electronic, the non-EdX, as a more comfortable, sociable communication space for his teacher-to-teacher interactions. Portals, Practitioners and Public Knowledge These three critical events outline the complex unfolding of the study. They might be summarized as (1) the genesis of the Public Knowledge Project (PKP) ; (2) the collective loss o f teachers' knowledge and learning in the institutional space of teacher professional development; and, (3) the social shaping or rejecting of a technology due to perceived disconnections between theory (university) and practice (school), external (computer communication) and local (face-to-face communication). These were three events that I experienced in the course of this research, over a period o f three years, three locations, and two institutions (university and school districts). While the second event - the staff meeting - presents a mundane, typical reoccurrence in teachers' professional development, the first event - the PKP-Vancouver Sun collaboration -presents a counter-narrative to typical conventional professional development. The Public Knowledge Project (PKP) presents a unique mission, a means to reform or change the continuing loss or isolation of knowledge in teachers' professional development. The P K P mission (first event) reveals a significant change of course for the use of digital tools in education: it aims to develop and design technologies which w i l l record, organize/manage and increase the value of knowledge in connection to teacher professional development. P K P supports the teacher's right to know that what is stated, as "good" content in educational research, w i l l act for the teacher's professional behalf. The third event, the final E d X portal 9 meeting, moves beyond the design and consideration of technologies for professional development or beyond the flexibility of a technology to be socially shaped. In this event, the majority of mentors, who were P K P ' s most important spokespersons for potentially translating the merits of the portal's capabilities into the interests of the teacher-users, they declared the E d X portal as an ineffective tool for teachers' needs (Latour, 1987, p.71). In this final event of E d X , a critical theatre of proof the mentors were asked to take ownership of the portal's management, maintenance, and social shaping (Latour, 1988, pp. 85-87). 4 It is at this review or trial that the mentors declare the portal as generally unusable for teacher-users, bearing little resemblance to and suitability for teachers' knowledge work in this university diploma program. Here, then, is a chronological and philosophical continuum along which the thesis travels. M y research begins with the needs and gaps in digital teacher education in which the Public Knowledge Project designed and launched its first knowledge portal, PKP-VanSun , in A p r i l 1999. The P K P portal design development progresses through two implementation sites (PKP-VanSun, 1999, with a newspaper-reader public, and, P K P - C I T E , 1999-2000, with a pre-service cohort of 36 teacher candidates), culminating in the creation and testing of E d X with an in-service cohort of 100 classroom teachers. The thesis research concludes with the 3 Spokespersons are those who speak for others who cannot (non-human) or do not (human) speak. In this case, the mentors, as the designated technological leaders in their school district, could speak for the machine, for EdX. Simultaneously, they were the representative mouthpieces for those teachers who are not yet "technicist" or technologically able or comfortable to speak in machine-related terms. 4 A theatre of proof is a term coined by Latour to refer to "dramatized experiments where spectators can see the phenomena," previously described in scientific text (Latour, 1988, p.85). It is usually a spectacular or evident demonstration rendering the proof indisputable or without doubt. 10 closing o f the E d X portal in February 2001, but only to see it reincarnated into a First Class 5 database prototype called Web Link Directory, in September 2001. Complexity of Portals, Practitioners and Public Knowledge In the empirical context of this chronological and philosophical continuum, the study gathered evidence that spoke to how the design of a P D environment must build upon the participants' clearly perceived needs as well as factor in social elements that are familiar, hence, comfortable to these users. For example, the knowledge work afforded and encouraged by the portal prototype needs to resemble or assist the knowledge work in which teachers participate regularly in either their schools or, at the very least, in their professional coursework. The portal prototype needs to place the local expertise of the user group, of their community of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991), at the centre o f its knowledge repository. And the design of the technical features which function to encourage users to discuss, to access knowledge resources, and to reveal one's thinking, need to aim for an overall affective response of comfort. This study's chronological account of the events that took place around the development of a P D portal is a history of an experimental technology that evolves through three phases in its efforts to increase the educational and professional value o f educational research for teacher-practitioners. Professional development portals are to support teachers' knowledge work as well as extend their educational needs. Portal design for practitioners requires understanding their knowledge work: it requires understanding the ways that it is not only supported, but, potentially changed, even challenged, by educational technologies and professional development portals. What the evidence of the practitioners' use of the P K P 5 First Class is a system that can be described as collaborative groupware for organizations. It is a server system or intranet that provides its users with the ability to communicate and share information via email, conferencing, directories, individual and shared calendars and online chats. 11 portals demonstrates is that teacher-users can view technologies as systems of external professional control and social shaping as well as simultaneously view them as facilitative media for communication and self-expression. The degree of ownership that the technologies afford or permit teachers is critical to their use of it for purposes such as communicating and sharing knowledge in a PD setting. When teachers believe they have ownership and primary control or influence upon the tool's design, time period, and purpose, they are more willing to participate and participate regularly. They are more trusting and willing to believe that they are participating in the social shaping of the tool, rather than resent or resist a prototype that they believe has more social influence upon shaping them, their knowledge work, and their professional education. This is the critical tension and complexity of the study: I needed to analyze and understand the relationship between meanings and interpretations of technological artifacts and their sociopolitical milieu as well as trace the social or technological forces exerting shape onto the network. In order to address this complexity, I have sought to balance problems and attention to the technological construction of social, educational worlds with its converse, which is to say, the socio-educational construction of technology. To trace these influences or forces, I examine the work of the teacher-participants, their knowledge practices (i.e., are primary source research documents important for informing their practice or professional education?); the institutions that support these practices (including the academic field of teacher education); and, the interaction of all these with the portal and the spokespersons-actors representing the portal - software designers, management team, instructors, researchers. Understanding all of this might be too much to aspire to in the complex, nuanced, and variable world that we call education, particularly 12 teacher education in the digital age. And designing the perfect portal that will address all of these users, needs and factors is certainly too much to aspire for in one prototype at this nascent stage of digital professional development design. The thesis does not evaluate portals as winners or losers in digital professional development as this type of judgment and examination would simply reinforce a techno-determinist stance. Rather, the thesis is an account of a university research team testing grant-endorsed, sophisticated, research-based portals with practitioner-users. It is not an overly detailed, tell-all text, about these particular PKP portals as that would detract from a focus on teacher education as a field, as an institution, attempting to grapple with the potentials of digital environments and the structures, both social and technical, that either enhance or limit those potentials. Thesis Statement Given how few institutional mechanisms are in place for teachers to view themselves as active purveyors, translators, and managers of knowledge for their own professional development or for the knowledge base improvement of teaching, an internet-based PD environment providing public and free tools to access, manage, use, and talk back to educational research would appear opportune with a liberating, reform purpose for the two institutions, schools and universities. Yet, when the time came to transfer ownership of the portal to the key group of teacher-leader-mentors, they refused to participate any longer in this participatory research. Almost contradictorily, these digital PD portals had worked successfully for practitioners' knowledge needs, while they simultaneously faltered in the co-construction of a stable network with practitioners. 13 This study locates the paradoxical nature of this event at the intersection of teacher education, Internet-based technologies, and the institutions of university and school, in the ways portals and teacher professional development reciprocally extended, restricted, and otherwise served to disrupt or disconnect from each other. L ike other recurring elements of teacher P D and reform, such as outside expertise, university-driven projects with limited funding, involuntary (sic) teacher participation through course assignments and grading, the P K P portals played into multiple viewpoints (user interpretations) concurrently. Not only were the portals perceived as rich knowledge environments and tools of public access for professional learning, but they were simultaneously viewed as models and metaphors perpetuating the gap between teachers and researchers, and, between theoretical and practical knowledge. A s Huberman (1999) has argued, researchers and practitioners' micro-worlds cannot remain isolated from each other in order for the field of educational research to develop (p. 289). There needs to be greater "sustained interactivity" or shared activity for knowledge to be exchanged, translated, and constructed (p. 291). Digital P D portals can help initiate and sustain interactivity between separated institutions and stakeholders' micro-worlds by providing greater opportunities and malleable environments for this mutual engagement, yet, this promise was not achieved to any significant scalable effect with the P K P portals for two prominent reasons. Firstly, technological environments that intend to increase teachers' active engagement in their professional knowledge development need to be consciously designed to recognize and accentuate teachers' own professional expertise in the form of local knowledge. Secondly, the narrative o f use or metaphorical design needs to recognize the contributive element of human intermediation to build bridges between communities of 14 users, the stored knowledge (repository), and the dynamic knowledge of lived interpretation (discussions). The sense of these two critical components as missing was clearly indicated in the presence of symptoms of displacement and discomfort among participants. Although much discussion, particularly in information studies and technological design, has focused on user-centred design or usability studies of information systems in general, a theoretical or conceptual base of teachers' knowledge work to inform prototype design, particularly in digital professional development environments, has been lacking. In this thesis, I investigate the uses of irreductionist social theories of technology (Kaghan & Bowker, 2000) such as science, technology and society (STS) studies, particularly, its branch of actor network theory ( A N T ) , social informatics (SI), and situated learning, as the basis for understanding the emerging knowledge work and professional needs of teachers with educational technologies, and, how the design of teacher professional development portals works in connection with those needs to co-construct a network. 6 A s A N T theorists state, there is no (usable) technological object or artifact (such as a portal) unless there is a network of actors (i.e., users) (Latour, 1988; Callon, 1986). A n d there is no network until the users/actors are wi l l ing to take ownership and control of the use of the technological artifact. A portal (a technological artifact) is only as real as its network; therefore, a professional development portal for teachers is only as real as its practitioner-users and their usability of the portal's functions, contents, or (public) knowledge. This analysis is rooted in an empirical study of the Public Knowledge Project's professional development portals for teachers over a 36 month period; however, it is not a specific evaluation or judgment of any one of the portals or the research consortium of P K P 6 The term irreductionist refers to Bruno Latour's statement that "nothing is irreducible to anything else, there cannot be tests and weaknesses on the one hand and something else on the other" (1988, p. 214). Irreductionist social theories are those that do not test in order to judge or reduce the web of social and material relations. 15 in particular. Instead, it addresses concerns raised by its target user group, the teacher-practitioners (both users and non-users), about actual and potential changes in teacher knowledge work and teacher education made possible by portal technologies. I argue that the findings reflect not just issues specific to the P K P portals or to teacher education portals alone, but, rather, to the social, material, and institutional practices of teachers' knowledge work and the changes brought about by the electronic publication o f educational research, by both practitioners and academics, on the Internet. The findings of this P K P empirical work can be encapsulated and analyzed by the following complex question: how did these digital P D portals work successfully for practitioners' knowledge needs, while they simultaneously faltered in the co-construction of a stable network with practitioners? This thesis w i l l argue that the P K P portals succeeded in having noticeable impacts on certain practitioners' knowledge practices -making research more accessible and usable in the process- while simultaneously faltering to motivate and persuade a critical sustainable number of users to reliably, generally use and take ownership of these portals as intended by our research project. A s a result of studying the events associated with these P D portals, I first determined that an effective or stable teacher professional development portal is one that has to function at three levels to attain and stabilize a network. First, the portal designer-researchers need to acknowledge the possible narratives of use and the embedded purposes that lie behind changing or transforming users' or teachers' knowledge work. A n y prototype or digital environment has at its core a vision or narrative of how the prototype is distinct from other portals as well as what it intends to offer in convenient access to useful knowledge that has never been offered previously (Star, 1999). The encoded narrative for a portrayal of teachers' 16 knowledge work should reflect and actively support changes in practitioners' or users' epistemic communities. Secondly, the portal design needs to demonstrate an ability to draw forward, draw upon, and draw attention to human intermediaries. This second element is founded on the proposition that a prototype gains and stabilizes a network through its ability to encourage and acknowledge its human intermediaries (Star & Strauss, 1999; Callon, 1986). Intermediaries do the critical fieldwork of translating or bridging human work with the machine or digital environment. These human translators mediate the artifact's narrative or reform mission into terms and actions recognizable by fellow users: they bridge technical difficulties by offering alternatives or shortcuts; they demonstrate the benefits of the system and its contents by modeling themselves as exemplars of use; and, they showcase their own successful connections with the content or functions of the artifact. Their role needs to be patently clear and central in the portal design. Finally, the portal design needs to enable and influence an affective, social environment that promotes comfort and trust. This third element, the prototype's ability to attend to the affective design of its associated (enabled) social environment (Van House, 2002; Norman, 2004), is a critical function for enrolling practitioners and making alliances with users (Latour, 1987) in the portal's network. The portal's intersections with teachers' knowledge work and its influences on emerging communities of practice, highlights critical issues of comfort and trust in digital professional development portals. Teachers need non-intimidating opportunities to try to articulate new knowledge positions and they need supportive, friendly environments wherein they try to understand new educational research (White, Shimoda, & Frederiksen, 1999). 17 The P K P digital environments were envisioned and designed as professional knowledge management portals where professionals could access the knowledge they wanted or needed in one convenient library-type e-space. The P K P portals were actively defined and designed as knowledge spaces instead of affective spaces of comfort and trust for teachers to publicly share and try out new ideas. The main knowledge-work paradigm in the design of the P K P portals was facilitate access: it sought to provide direct, unmediated access to publicly funded, educational research now made more public knowledge in the increased accessibility through the P K P portals. Usability of the portal was understood as giving teachers the means to read knowledge and apply, with no watering-down intermediation by unnecessary translators (Agre, 1999), research-based (or evidence-based) approaches to their own teaching with educational technologies. The focus on teachers' knowledge work and public access to knowledge was expected to provide conditions for an emerging community of professional practice of its own making, rather than P K P needing to design for conditions and effects of support, comfort, mediation, and trust-making. Plan of the Study This dissertation is organized into three sections. Part 1 seeks to describe the basic outline of professional development, teacher knowledge, and educational technologies. In chapter 2,1 give a brief historical overview of the emergence and growth of educational technologies and professional development for the purpose of providing a setting within which the rest of the study can fit. Chapter 3 explains the theoretical model of A N T and other non-irreductionist socio-technical theories through an examination of conceptual terms that I w i l l use to analyze the digital professional development experiments of the P K P prototypes. Chapter 4 describes the portals in greater detail for the reader to visualize their 18 infrastructures, tools, and environments, as well as describes the social sites of implementation and the teacher-participants. Chapter 5 explains the evolution of methodologies from a usability focus to participatory action research and finally a socio-technical approach, each corresponding to a particular historical phase of the projects and to a particular implementation context. Part 2 constitutes the heart of the P K P prototype study, the place where the empirical facts of the P K P project are interpreted and retold through a socio-technical conceptual language. In Chapter 6,1 explore the first P K P prototype's emergence as the historical precedent and encoded master narrative out of which the next two prototypes develop to succeed it (February 1999-February 2000). I consider its impact on a cohort of pre-service teachers composing an electronic essay through WebCT discussions with references to the PKP-VanSun portal's content. Chapter 7 considers the transformation of the first P K P prototype into E d X and its successful impacts on some of the teacher-users' knowledge practices through the work of skilled intermediaries. Chapter 8 reviews the trials of E d X officiated by the N E T T L mentors, with a range o f contributing factors that made E d X an uncomfortable, unconvincing, and unappealing technology to the majority of these actor gatekeepers. Finally, Part 3 or Chapter 9 revisits the thesis in its entirety through three sections or mini-chapters. Section I revisits the questions set forth in Part I concerning professional development and teacher knowledge in digital environments along with revisiting A N T and social informatics as theories and methodologies for following human and machine actors in their interactions. Section II reviews the empirical observations of the actors and the networks by reconsidering the observations as lessons learned to better inform future attempts in designing professional development portals. Finally, in Section III, the 19 thesis concludes by considering what this study could offer the growing field of educational technologies research. 20 C H A P T E R 2 A Literature Review of Teacher Education and Educational Technologies Introduction In the recent past, teacher education has been frequently invoked as the answer to problems in education, including the present dissatisfying state of computer integration into classroom practices (Pea, 1999; Cuban, 2001). A study of the history of teacher education demonstrates that teacher education has been called upon in the past to perform transformative deeds in the field of education (Cuban, 1984, 1993; Goodlad, 1994). A n d teacher education is a viable part of any change process in education (Fullan & Miles , 1992; Spillane, 1999), particularly when practitioners are actively involved, but teacher education reform cannot work alone. Changes in the technologies available for schooling and for teacher education have an important influence on the way we experience and think of teacher education, but technology is also not all-powerful and cannot work alone. Rather, both technological change and teacher education reform need to intersect with one another and with other critically important social, cultural, political and institutional factors to help impact how digital teacher education could be effectively practiced. This chapter reviews the research of the fields of educational technologies and teacher education, particularly digital portal environments and teachers' professional development, to locate commonalities or points of intersection between these fields of research. Where the points of intersection occur are the points at which digital tools could be integrated to the greatest institutional effect in teacher education: to use digital portals to establish and 21 leverage epistemic communities in education with open access to both educational research and a broad range of educational actors. Un-usability and Inaccessibility of Educational Research Ellen Gondliffe Lagemann, a noted education historian, has claimed that educational research is a byproduct of twentieth century values on "scientism"—that is, making education research in the image of the "hard" sciences such as physics (Lagemann, 2000; 2002). A s a result, there is a notable shortage of "usable knowledge" coming from educational research endeavors; that is, research knowledge that matters to practitioners and to the way education is done in schools. Lagemann advocates for an effort to convert high-quality academic research into usable knowledge by translating research findings into the kinds of tools and applications that educators and learners can use. She also promotes the stance that "practitioners should be able to take the problems of practice back to research" (2002). Related to the problems of usable research knowledge for practitioners, is a more pressing problem of the first order: accessing the documents, the knowledge produced by educational researchers, as journal subscription rates soar with digital publication and hardcopy journals, leading to journal cancellations. A s Wil l insky (2005) has commented, the idea of dissemination or access to educational research by the public (those stakeholders located outside of the university, including teachers) has been seriously questioned. Not only has the scientific quality and contribution of educational research been questioned, but digital open access to educational research has not even been pondered by critically powerful, public educational agencies such as the National Academies (US) . 7 Wi l l insky specifically questions the sixth principle of scientific advice, offered in the Scientific Research in Education report 7 Willinsky directly addresses the National Research Council's publication, the Scientific Research in Education report (Shavelson & Towne, 2002) in two publications (2005, 2001). 22 (Shavelson & Towne, 2002). This principle implies that educational research becomes more legitimate and scientific when its disclosure is given only to professional peers (other academic researchers). The writers, and by implication the National Academies, do not consider or advocate for open access of educational research to the public. "It is as i f such research were indeed a professional secret, one which should only be disclosed to those who can be trusted with it. Against such notion, I would argue that the final step in any research project should be about ensuring the circulation and exchange of knowledge in as wide a fashion as is feasible" (Willinsky, 2005, p. 41) and ensuring that "research falls within a democratically informed public sphere" (p. 45). To fulfill this greater democratic public agenda for educational research, I agree with Wil l insky that it could be assisted by Internet-based digital technologies, in the order of "an infrastructure to promote ongoing collaborations among researchers, practitioners, and policymakers" (Shavelson & Towne, 2002, pp. 155-156, as cited in Wil l insky, 2005, p. 47). A n d I want to assist in the realization o f this greater democratic role for educational research in teacher education by examining a number of critical elements that I argue must be considered and addressed when providing greater access to research. These elements include the following: teachers as isolated knowledge workers; epistemological models of teacher knowledge in educational research; facilitation and mediation in teacher education; models of communities for practitioner-researcher interactivity; the options of internet technologies for education epistemic communities; and, the complexities of employing technologies to address social problems in the field of education in order to produce change. 23 Teachers as Isolated Knowledge Practitioners Few institutional mechanisms are in place for teachers to view themselves as active purveyors, translators, and managers of knowledge for their own professional development (individual consideration) or for the knowledge base improvement of teaching (collective, institutional consideration). One pervasive condition that maintains this impoverished knowledge situation for teachers is teacher isolation from their teaching colleagues, from other schools (or groups of teachers), from other organizational actors within their own school boards (curriculum specialists, administrators, parent advisory councils), from other institutional branches of education (Ministries, universities, policy makers, Faculties o f if Education) and, other institutional actors (researchers, parents, trustees). The current situation of professional development is of little help in changing this viewpoint of teachers as knowledge workers. Despite recognition of the importance of regular professional development, the majority of P D available to teachers is grossly inadequate: it is negligibly short-term, fragmented, intellectually vacuous or disengaging, and regularly uninformed by established teacher education research (Bal l& Cohen, 1999; Borko & Putnam, 1996; Putnam & Borko, 2000). A s the teacher education researcher, Linda Darling-Hammond (1997) has summarized the current situation: If teachers are to prepare an ever more diverse group of students for much more challenging work - for framing problems; finding, integrating and synthesizing information; creating new solutions; learning on their own; and working cooperatively -they w i l l need substantially more knowledge and radically different skills than most now have and most schools of education now develop, (p. 154) However, the problem of teacher isolation is not simply the lack of a skil l set by the individual practitioner, it also encompasses institutional and cultural elements that cannot be eradicated by a new skill set taught in workshops or schools of education. Shulman (1993), 24 the educational scholar and president of the Carnegie Foundation, had the opportunity to reminisce on the culture shock and institutional differences, indeed the institutional inversion, between schools and universities. Shulman comments on what he experienced and observed as a new PhD candidate entering and anticipating his membership in the institution o f the university, contrasted against his experiences of impoverished and solitary knowledge conditions as a practitioner. M y anticipation contained two visions. One was the vision of the solitary individual labouring quietly, perhaps even obscurely, somewhere in the library stacks, or in a laboratory, or at an archaeological site; someone who pursued his or her scholarship in splendid solitude. M y second vision was of this solitary scholar entering the social order —becoming a member of the community — interacting with others, in the classroom and elsewhere, as a teacher. What I didn't understand as a new PhD was that I had it backwards! We experience isolation not in the stacks but in the classroom. We close the classroom door and experience pedagogical solitude, whereas in our life as scholars, we are members o f active communities: communities of conversation, communities of evaluation, communities in which we gather with others in our invisible colleges to exchange our findings, our methods, and our excuses. (Shulman, 1993, p. 10, emphases mine) The community Shulman is describing in the university, the diligent collaborative community that encourages multiple modes of interaction (activity, conversation, evaluation, exchange) amongst its members, could best be described as a community of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991). It is a community where members actively, and routinely, seek out interaction with other colleague-actors in their organization (other education academics, researchers in one's particular and related sub-fields) as a means to hone their skills, to continue in the development of their profession, and to advance their thinking on a particular question or problem. The teacher, on the other hand, has a restricted, isolated sense of participation in their profession, in their knowledge contributions to their field, and little Brown & Duguid (2000) provide a detailed explanation and applied summary of communities of practice through technological environments. 2 5 realization that a larger professional community with whom they exchange ideas, methods and observations could improve itself and the effectiveness and engagement of their teaching practices. Even the building itself, the architecture o f the school, promotes isolation in its egg-crate like classroom construction. The infrastructural design of the building neglects conditions for collegial exchange by teachers or an expansive pursuit of ideas for engagement. Teachers' interactions with one another are not a focus in the organizational conditions of the daily timetable; hence, collegial interactions are often fleeting exchanges in hallways, in the staff room over rushed lunches, or tired comments at the end of the day by their doors. In the daily demands o f classroom work, teachers do not have ready access or incentives to hone a skil l set for establishing networks with one another. This activity of exchange, of developing the practice through professional discussion, is not an inscribed discourse in either their job descriptions, the physical architecture o f schools, school district organization, nor in incentives to reward for the time and effort necessary for networking and knowledge sharing. The results of this isolation and ineffective professional development are most acute when teachers who wish to discuss intriguing problems of practice can only consider graduate school to find like-minded, critically-engaged, professionals. 9 When teachers want to pursue their pressing professional questions, the sad irony is that their main option is to leave the institutional isolation of schools in order to participate in a larger, connected, knowledge-pursuant community such as that of the university. 9 See Neumann, Pallas & Peterson's (1999) examination of two practitioners, Brenner and Ladson-Billings, and their reasons, motivation and impetus for becoming educational researchers (p. 250). 26 Teacher education researchers are recommending that teacher isolation can be mediated and overcome when teaching is characterized by collective means and seeks connections with external constituencies. When teachers take collective responsibility for a school-based project, such as student learning, they conceive their work to be a joint enterprise (Little, 1990) and they become committed to discussing regularly the improvement of conditions for student learning, and hence, for their own intellectual engagement in their work. Teachers also develop a higher sense of personal and collective professional effectiveness and assume that learning for the students results mainly from school, rather than non-school factors (Lee & Smith, 1996). And , finally, when teachers engage with parents and other public stakeholders to determine standards of student performance, teachers are demonstrating that they are actively monitoring and developing themselves as a profession (Hargreaves & Fullan, 1998, pp. 104-105). Models of Teacher Knowledge in Teacher Education Educational changes of any significant magnitude wi l l require learning and knowledge enhancement on the part of practitioners. This knowledge engagement w i l l be difficult without support and collaboration, particularly from those who are in positions with politically powerful, usable knowledge, in parallel institutions, from researchers in universities who have gathered evidence-based knowledge to policy-makers in government who are forging new curriculum directions. These external-to-schools, yet parallel knowledge seekers in education, can engage in exchanges about what are effective strategies under which conditions or on important questions that impact teachers re-searching and re-considering their practices and professional knowledge. Conceptions of Teacher Knowledge 27 In the field of teacher education, academic conceptions of teacher knowledge generally split into two positions that serve two distinct purposes: they can connect or create conditions to place teachers and researchers in "sustained knowledge interactivity" (Huberman, 1999), exchanging, translating, connecting, extending, and constructing knowledge; or they can disconnect or displace teachers and researchers away from each other into separate spheres of scientific/academic and practical/applied, defined into reified positions of formal versus informal knowledge, reinforcing a conceptual dualism between theoretical and embodied, and an enlarging gap between research and practice (Fenstermacher, 1994; Richardson, 1994). Compounding the problems of usability and accessibility to research knowledge for practitioners and the public is the lens of research often pointed by academics onto practitioners. University-based researchers, whether advocating for teacher research by teachers or arguing the epistemological validity of academic research on teachers, have been the ones to espouse the quest to study teacher knowledge/research as distinguishable and separable from academic knowledge/research. University-based researchers are often studying down from the university into the schools in order to study the topic of where the university encounters and divides away from schools and teachers. It is not often that the university-researcher is attempting to study across, across from one side of the project table to the other, to attempt to collaborate on a project of mutual agenda, roles, purpose, and needs. There are academics claiming that the culture of school is distinct and different from the university (Hargreaves, 1994; Clandinin & Connelly, 1995; Norris, 2000; Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1993) in terms of community membership and the impacts of discourse, 28 organizational norms, and the material conditions of the professional practice. They claim that teachers have a distinct discourse and ways o f interacting with one another, which are not to be found in the university. In fact, some researchers have demonstrated that when in discussion, the encounters of researchers and educators can be volatile due to these institutional and socio-cultural differences (Page, Samson, & Crockett, 1998, p. 300). Other academics make epistemological claims about these distinctions between the two institutional worlds. They claim that teachers value practical, personal, particular knowledge useful in their immediate teaching situation while academics value theoretical and generalizable knowledge claims that w i l l be valued and recognized by their academic colleagues (Fenstermacher, 1994; Huberman 1996; Richardson, 1994). There are other researchers who use the classification of teacher's knowledge as personal-practical for the means to construct practitioners' stories as narrative research (Clandinin & Connelly, 1995). In these cases, practitioners' accounts are the primary source, the data, for the researchers' elaboration and secondary interpretation. If we enter the discussion of teachers as researchers or generators of original, primary source knowledge, must we inadvertently enter the epistemological debates and seemingly "paradigm wars" (Anderson & Herr, 1999), concerning the validity of practitioner knowledge by battling over the standards, rigour, and criteria of evaluation? If we abstain from discussing teachers as constructors or generators of knowledge and focus instead on teachers as filters 1 0 (Eco & Coppock, 1995), managers, or connectors to knowledge and 1 0 Umberto Eco (1996) recommends that Internet users focus on a skill set of filtering and selecting a manageable set of knowledge in order to avoid being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of research and information in the explosive and "acephalous" era of cascading digital information available through the Internet. 29 resources, we are still addressing teachers' knowledge but not from the point of defining, judging, or arbitrating it. Teaching is a complex practice of mediation between different knowledge worlds: the worlds of official formal knowledge (educational research, content knowledge, disciplines, educational policy, resources), the worlds of their students and family constituents (their discourse, communities, viewpoints), and the inherent institutional culture of classrooms (culture of schools, government policies, prescribed curriculum). 1 1 A l l three of these worlds and how they connect or filter through the teacher are objects of study (sustained, funded, connected) in the university. There must be something missing for teachers' professional knowledge and practice when they have limited or no access to educational research that fundamentally concerns them, their knowledge practices, and the development of the profession. Ironically, this issue of access to pertinent primary source research knowledge has become most pressing during a time of overwhelming overloads of information and new digital technologies. Miss ing links (Willinsky, 2002) of access, and, consequently, missing organizational mechanisms and technological tools for association, for both teachers and researchers, continue almost imperviously to the quickly establishing medium of the Internet's open access digital connections. Surprisingly, the institutions of school and university remain concretely and unnecessarily divided as the Digital Age gains presence and strength in daily life and work. Predominant models of innovation in professional development are briefly reviewed here to help challenge the gaps or absences of digital mechanisms, tools, or environments for teachers' access to knowledge. M y argument is that i f these mechanisms and environments 1 1 Lagemann (1993) does lament how teachers are not prepared or trained to become public educators or public speakers on the meanings and changes of public education. 30 were given due attention technologically, socially and institutionally, teachers would begin to view themselves as managers, mediators, and contributors of knowledge for their own practice and for the profession. I contend that it is only when researchers' models of teacher knowledge are flexible and participatory enough, along with technological design and research for knowledge conditions to inform each other, that we wi l l be able to, as Lagemann suggests, create "usable knowledge" (Lagemann, 2002), that is, knowledge that helps us not only as researchers, but as members of the education profession. The members o f this profession, practitioners and researchers alike, could stake spaces of commonality through the processes o f managing, mediating, and contributing knowledge and this common space could produce new groupings or communities for exchange. Facilitation and Mediation in Emancipatory Teacher Education Critical in the project for locating commonalities and building bridges between researchers and practitioners has been progressive, liberatory teacher education movements. Donald Schon's concept of the reflective practitioner is now generally taken as the seminal academic piece advocating a practice for teachers to refine their knowledge and to examine their practice critically. Schon's work (1983, 1995), in particular, finds a prominent place in the emancipatory project of getting teacher's voices, hence their knowledge, back into the debates about improving teacher practice and reforming teacher education, (Grimmett & Erickson, 1988; Liston & Zeichner, 1991; Zeichner & Tabachnick, 1991). Puzzles of practice for teachers (Munby & Russell, 1990; Grimmet & MacKinnon, 1992) are those teaching events that may occur as puzzles: when what was intended and what actually happen are so unexpectedly dissimilar that no amount of replaying the lesson on the 'video player of the mind' w i l l discover what went wrong. Something more is needed, 31 something such as a facilitated, substantial conversation with an informed or experienced Other. Teacher colleagues could help enlarge and discuss the situation as they themselves may have had previous experience with the same phenomena o f practice. But teachers rarely meet for any discussion that is regular or substantial due to institutional constraints of time, money and energy. Teacher researchers have realized that there is research potential in these conversations of mediation as well as a means to help alleviate teacher isolation by offering knowledge engagement opportunities as local inquiry activity (Wells, 1994). The risk in the practice o f mediation in teacher education or reflection-in-action (Schon, 1988) is granting power or authority to usually just one mentor or mediator who is there to point up any collisions between the teacher's theories-of-action and theories-in-action (Schon, 1988). It becomes the facilitator or the mentor's role to sort through the implications o f puzzling events in the classroom. "Good" reflection is achieved when there is congruence between the teacher's espoused theory and the teacher's theory-in-action as negotiated with or decided by the university-based researcher-facilitator. But much can go awry in this encounter with both the event and with the participating facilitator. It begins with the conceptualization of facilitation by the mediator, usually an external teacher-researcher, who believes they occupy a more authorial position in the mediation. A s Kathy Carter advises: " A s researchers and teacher educators, we can only serve . . . perhaps, by helping teachers to come to know their own stories" (Carter, 1993, p.8). This emphasis on the role of the researcher creates an imbalance that is not easily resolved. Cochran-Smith & Lytle (1993) try to level this imbalance, negate or minimize the hierarchical, authorial position of the facilitator, the researcher, by categorizing them as outside, externally-based interventionists. M y position is that mediation should not be 32 minimized but rather multiplied by many educational actors: practitioners, teacher-researchers, academic researchers, documents by researchers in lieu, facilitators or intermediaries, who are all implied, exchanging, facilitating and gaining (not just providing service or assuming authority) from a discussion centred on common stories and inquiries into the field of teaching. The setting for the encounters between researcher-facilitator and practitioner has typically not included a knowledge environment or portal system wherein the researcher and the teacher can tap into resources concerned with similar issues and topics to help inform their research and/or facilitation. In a knowledge environment, one's espoused theory can be more readily connected to developing or established theories and, thus, help enlarge the reflection or facilitation exchange. For example, is the puzzle, problem, or question, located in the teacher's subject content knowledge, culturally responsive issues or organization of the curriculum as administered in the school? The teacher needs to inform, connect, and extend their knowledge into webs, systems, or communities of other teacher-inquirers, teacher-researchers and research-facilitators in education pondering similar questions. The internal becomes webbed into a larger professional sphere or community of knowledge discussion, where the local is maintained while being extended, and this knowledge movement does not displace the central role of the teacher-contributor and their voice. A commonality among recent innovative research directions in teacher education that relates directly to the work of P K P and our professional development portals is human mediation. Mediation, usually directed by researchers with teacher-practitioners, was a critical mode of interaction in the portals for helping to move research knowledge into teachers' knowledge practices. This mediation or facilitation has also gained attention in 33 projects o f innovation in teacher education. Cochran-Smith (2001) refers to it as the teacher-researcher facilitating or encouraging inquiry stances with or alongside practitioners as teacher-researchers. Borko (2004) classifies and describes the knowledge activity of facilitation as one of three critical variables for any successful professional development program (p. 5). A n d Huberman (1999) proposes human mediation as the engagement activity for both practitioners and researchers which he terms, sustained interactivity, or a more reciprocal activity of knowledge connection, exchange, and construction (p. 291). The central role of the mediator or facilitator is to engage in knowledge discussion or inquiries with practitioners. Sometimes, the goal of mediation is to challenge and engage in critical examinations of teaching which can result in teacher discomfort or the approach may be to offer affirmation for the practitioners' ideas/thinking (recognition and comfort through validation that their work is meaningful). Cochran-Smith and Lytle (1999) would support a conceptualization of the teacher-researcher as a co-facilitator who works to create conditions for knowledge validation and comfort within teacher circles before engaging in critique, in order to maintain a defensible power balance. A s White, Shimoda and Frederiksen (1999) have shown, learners, including teacher-learners, need opportunities to articulate new knowledge positions and they need supportive environments wherein they can understand new educational research or acquire inquiry stances (Cochran-Smith, 2001). I am trying to abstain from characterizing intellectual or knowledge engagement as an outside-teaching activity that can only be re-inserted into teacher networks by the work of researcher-facilitators. I counter that the local knowledge of teachers, gained through practice and classroom contexts, can be transmogrified through interaction with other educational actors 34 in a seamless space that is neither inside or outside the school but an overlap between the two, that o f a professional development digital portal. Problems of Sustainability and Scalability in Teacher Education The tension for these innovative models of in-service teacher education is how much labour, human-researcher contact labour, in particular, is required for this kind of collaborative mediation or knowledge facilitation to be initiated and then sustained. The teacher-researcher interaction works of Page, Samson, & Crockett (1998) and Grossman, Wineburg, & Woolworth (2001) both discuss the difficult, complex, socio-cultural fault lines o f working and mediating with groups of teachers in longitudinal encounters. Grossman, Wineburg & Woolworth frame their method of collaboration with teachers as a "community of learners" but this does not adequately reflect the work they, the researcher-leaders, must continually do in order to lead, direct and be physically present to sustain these projects. Thus, any joint, cross-institutional, collaborative grouping between researchers and practitioners concerns two critical variables: the sustainability of researchers' and teachers' time, energy and commitment, and the scalability of the number of participating teachers and researchers in order to ensure that the group grows into a community (or network) which continues to garner continuity and strength. A n innovative means for promoting both sustainability and scalability for education groups has begun to be explored, notably by learning sciences researchers (Pea et. al., 1999; Barab et al., 2001; Scardamelia, 2004) rather than teacher education researchers (ironically), through digital, Internet-based tools. This was the impetus for my wanting to be involved in the P K P portal projects. I began with the dream-position that the P K P portals were to be designed as "knowledge refinery" tools rather than "knowledge repositories" (Brown, 1997) 35 where informal, tacit knowledge usually exchanged at the water fountain or coffee pot could be transferred, transmogrified, and re-captured through digital means for practitioner and researcher exchange. This digital space, the portal, would become more o f a social refinery because it would involve not simply static, posted texts but live, active members of the education field wi l l ing and invested in the exchange of experiences and ideas as well as the explicit education o f each other's point o f view. The political contribution o f Huberman's (1999) vision is that he recognized the innate, reciprocally beneficial potential of a sustained interactivity project on both researchers and practitioners. Instead of positioning the researcher as the teacher of teachers, of university facilitators doing practitioners a favour or "service" (Carter, 1993), Huberman (1999) conceived of it as participation by the researcher in not only research of teachers but in their own education as researchers. Sustained interactivity between teachers and researchers can scale up into institutional connections capable o f shifting epistemological debates and redefining each actor's knowledge work. Unfortunately, as presently constituted, the (analog) institution of school does not lend itself to this kind of supported, sustainable or scalable knowledge work. The mechanisms of peer-to-peer conversations, space and time for research projects, open access resources of articles, projects-in-process notices, meetings and conversations with researchers/academics, publications and conferences of teachers' knowledge/research, repositories or digital libraries for storing teachers' knowledge (documents, ratings, comments, learning objects) - and making them all public - alongside other knowledge documents, these mechanisms either do not presently exist or they are rare and not financed by school authorities (i.e., the money and impetus comes from external sources, particularly initiating universities). 36 M y concern here is to establish a sustainable recognition that educational knowledge as a medium or an environment is one in which teachers routinely and actively work. I am approaching educational knowledge as media, as the construction material for knowledge environments or systems, through which teachers can connect with resources, one another, and with other educational actors such as academics and researchers. The conceptualization of this environment or network needs to work the inverse to remain sustainable and scalable: a place where researchers can connect with teachers and other institutional actors to work their knowledge as more accessible and usable in the larger endeavour entitled public education. It is this acknowledgement of knowledge as the common medium for teachers and researchers that should begin to pry open their respective institutional gates to bridge towards epistemic communities in education. Models of Education Communities To lessen the conditions of both teacher isolation -reducing teachers' opportunities to learn and share knowledge- and unusable research knowledge -the isolation of research from interaction with and examination by practitioners and the public, there has been a movement in teacher education research to experiment and test different community models in education as well as study different modes of interaction between researchers and practitioners. If the two "micro-worlds" (Huberman, 1999) of teacher and researcher were brought into conversation or collaboration on a project (shared activity), the expectation is that there w i l l be adjustments, shifts, or changes to the shared knowledge work or knowledge situations (environments) in which they collaborate. A general problem is that these projects have not been sufficiently tracked and empirically analyzed as a movement, yet the desire for this ideal of a community continues, with its associated ideal conditions of trust, comfort and 37 consensus. A n d an ongoing critically demanding question is how have these projects o f communities with practitioners functioned, what have they gained, and why do they regularly falter? The evidence of constant faltering is that there is not, as of yet, an established, accepted view of what model works best to achieve educational communities comprised of practitioners and researchers. Quite the contrary, there seems to have been a proliferation of terms and models to describe, outline, and define optimal communities for educational actors including communities of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1989; Wenger, 1998; in education, Barab & Duffy, 2000), communities of learners (Brown & Campione, 1994; Shulman & Sherin, 2004; Grossman, Wineburg, & Woolworth, 2001), knowledge building communities (Scardamelia & Bereiter, 1993), knowledge management communities (Hargreaves, 1999), and inquiry communities (Cochran-smith & Lytle, 1999; Hollingsworth, 1995; Wells , 1994). In the literature o f professional development, researchers are noting that effective professional communities of teachers with teachers are generally characterized by shared norms and values, a collective focus on a common project (typically focused on learning, be it student- or teacher-centred), collaboration, public (de-privatized) practice and reflective dialogue. But, the researcher-facilitator's most pressing question remains how to approximate and engender a state of community of teachers with teachers and with researchers through design, mediation, and iterative experimentation. In its broadest definition, the teacher-research movement is striving towards community models in order to "discover new social relationships to assuage the isolation of teaching for teachers" (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1999, p. 22). The idea of community is itself a complex concept with a number of variations in the literature, depending upon the primary focus of that community. In communities of learners (Brown & Campione, 1994; Shulman & 38 Sherin, 2004), deep understanding is perceived to be accomplished by sharing distributed expertise through teaching one another. A community of practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1998), on the other hand, is focused around negotiation of shared activities as new members are inculcated through shared participation from peripheral to central membership. In a community of inquiry (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1999; Wells, 1994), the focus consists of posing, not just answering or concluding inquiries, interrogating one's own and others' practices for the construction of local knowledge, and emphasizing differences in local classrooms as sites for inquiry. I examine the former two models in this section to demonstrate how a model functions for teacher education. In the model of communities of learners (Shulman & Sherin, 2004; Shulman & Shulman, 2004), power and authority between actors appear to be negotiated around notions of "expertise." B y implication, the model condones the distinction between inside and outside, local and external of the teacher world, the distinct separation of the institutions of school and university. It does not actively work to permeate those boundaries, to loosen or disengage the distinctions by acknowledging them other than allowing teachers' expertise that can be used to teach others who need to learn. The model of a community of learners also seems to imply that there is still a need for someone to be the leader-facilitator who helps guide the community and learners. This actor in authority, the leader-facilitator, is often the university-based researcher by deference or default as they are most often the initiators, coordinators, and flinders of these projects. The term, communities of practice (CoP), is very current and popular in a variety of fields including information studies, commerce, and education. CoPs focus on the negotiation and refinement of activities within work-oriented environments and focuses particularly on 39 the engagement of newcomer-members in practices that move them from peripheral to central participation in the community. Etienne Wenger (1998) specifically defined the notion o f engagement in these communities: it involves mutual relationships established in the creation and pursuit of a joint enterprise. A shared repertoire o f resources can be developed for negotiating collective meaning including routines, tools, concepts or anything that the community has adopted in the course of its development. Taken together, these elements of mutual relationships, joint enterprise and a shared repertoire/discourse constitute a community of practice. These elements ring similar to the ones outlined in teacher education literature for alleviating teacher isolation (Lee & Smith, 1996), yet they do not implicate mediation or enrollment of actors outside of the immediate context, the classroom and school community, nor does it apply to cross-institutional spaces. A CoP can become a space of identity for teachers i f it offers members a place to incorporate their histories (past experiences), local knowledge (present expertise) and also provides an experience that makes engagement in that community a continuing element in a developing personal future. Epistemic Communities in Education Yet another approach central to a study such as this one concerning teacher knowledge, teacher research and the generative need for cross-institutional exchange is the notion of epistemic communities in education. Epistemic community is a broad generic term I employ in this study to acknowledge the need for new models of social relationships for both teachers and researchers, particularly to escape and break down their institutional isolation. However, I also employ it as a term that acknowledges the need for researchers (academics) to play active, collaboratory, cross-institutional roles in the establishment of these epistemic groupings or communities. 40 • The term, epistemic communities, has been accredited to John Ruggie (1998) 1 2 and has been employed for a number of years in the Social Sciences to study a phenomenon similar to Durkheim's term of "mentalites collectives" or collective mentalities. A n epistemic community is not predisposed to the playing out of power relationships between individuals driven by calculations of utility. It is conscious of those " . . . webs o f meaning and signification" (1998, p. 194) that have a profound impact on human interaction. Notice, I am using the term epistemic community in a broad sensibility here in order to avoid pre-designing or pre-defining the desirable social outcomes (e.g., comfort, trust, critical inquiry) that would pre-determine the point at which a group can become a community. The term, epistemic community, leans toward the idea of a group of people engaging in ideas of delimiting their language and assumptions appropriate for this mix of actors and expanding their ideas of an appropriate social reality for educational exchange between teachers and researchers. The term, epistemic community, is distinct from communities of practice and communities of learners in that it can be used loosely. Epistemic communities are not concerned with teachers becoming more expert in their content knowledge, classroom routines, curriculum development, student assessment, per se, but rather are concerned with spaces (environments) for opening up the institutional knowledge norms and practices to other perspectives (epistemologies), particularly involving those other institutional actors who study and work educational perspectives (education researchers, policy makers, administrators) or those who have a stakeholder interest (parents, trustees). In epistemic 1 2 The term epistemic community is credited in this dissertation to Ruggie, principally because he was the first to use the perspective as a central feature of analysis in a theoretically rigorous way. Other social scientists who have employed similar terminology include Knorr-Cetina's (1999) term of epistemic cultures. Knorr-Cetina rigorously describes the epistemic culture of open critical exchange of work amongst physicists and the social conditions and terms for that culture. 41 communities, a discourse emerges and develops on how to discuss and relate educational research/knowledge to practitioners' questions, issues, and viewpoints as well as connect with other types of knowledge that these different institutional actors may not have considered for themselves. When teaching is publicized (taken beyond the immediate local, the school or classroom privacy realm) and when educational research is publicized (taken out of high-subscription cost journals or available to only those with university library access), practitioners and researchers have a new intra-institutional space in which to communicate. Teachers have the opportunity to observe teaching as a third, overlapping space through knowledge exhibits or objects such as stream-lined video cases, to engage with research texts and practitioner accounts, to discuss questions and coach each other, to co-examine, observe and mediate, and to problem solve in a dynamic environment of knowledge objects. This forum could be described as an epistemic community. The work of educational epistemic communities would be a melding o f the private and the public, of autonomy and interdependence, for both researchers and practitioners. Mediation and translation (through cross-institutional dialogue and engagement) would be key leavening or participatory processes in this community or network. B y mediation and 13 translation, I am referring to the network-work that develops shared understandings and displaced values for educational discussions: that is the collective movement or 'mentality' of the epistemic community may displace the initial assumptions guiding and motivating some participants in the collective. However, the epistemic work can only be successful i f the members are enrolled: they w i l l return and participate with both their shifted, displaced 1 31 am referring here to specific Actor-Network (ANT) terms of Bruno Latour, which I re-define, elaborate and apply to education in Chapter 3. 42 assumptions and their new, shared understandings i f these understandings bind the new community/network together. A n epistemic community encourages the idea of a collaborative, mutually responsive, contributory group with an acknowledgement of the good o f different institutional positions of the members. Members know they wi l l benefit from these different institutional perspectives and encounters. People who want to know more, to gain access, and know well , to go beyond their own local situation, form epistemic communities where they become epistemically interdependent. Such communities become rhetorical spaces (Code, 1 9 9 5 ) where knowledge-acquiring, managing, and refining activities are nurtured and shaped into collective activities. What Educational Technologies can offer Teacher Professional Development The greatest isolation for teachers (practitioners) is the reality that they have little to no visible epistemic community, no one to really know with. N o one to actively explore questions about which knowledge claims they have relied upon in practice, how credibility was established for these claims through practice and how they are to be described and exchanged in the collective forum. The promise of digital P D , informed by teacher education research, is that it can work to overcome the chronic problems of time, resources, and context that impede most face-to-face P D programs and education community development. More importantly, digital P D can work to improve the intellectually vacuous or disengaging knowledge conditions of analog P D by giving access to usable research through well-indexed and integrated knowledge repositories. How can technology help appreciate, accentuate, and support the complexity of engaging in a collaborative study with teachers where the goal is multiple: to honour the 43 teacher's voice and knowledge, to extend and connect it to other voices and knowledge sources, to pursue the scope of the knowledge, to embed it inside a larger literature and discussion that is inside educational research (and in which the teacher lives, even tacitly and unaware). M y argument is that technologies, malleable technologies, innovative knowledge environments, are capable of allowing and permitting teachers to include their own voices into the creation of the literature and research of teacher knowledge as well as extend their voices into collaborative discussion with researchers, those attempting to produce usable knowledge for teachers. Educational technology could be argued either as a very new or a very old phenomenon, depending on one's view of what exactly 'technology' comprises. In the largest, anthropological sense, technology is tools, whether it is a physical artifact or a cultural practice that helps people to accomplish what they could not accomplish alone. The contemporary sense today, and the one which implies that educational technology is a new phenomenon, is the notion of technology as information or knowledge technology, particularly through networked information technologies. Constructivism implies that learning technologies are essentially environmental supports for learners constructing their own knowledge. A constructivist approach to P D portals would focus on practitioner participation through tools to construct and refine new knowledge (Scardamelia, 2004). But this study of teacher education through digital environments is located in socio-cultural theories of learning by practitioners. It examines technologies as socio-cultural instruments for those who want to enter communities: communities of practice, communities of learners, or epistemic communities. I am not examining teachers' participation in the P K P P D portals as a means to measure and assess 44 participation in a particular type of community. Instead, I grapple with the theoretical and empirical implications of portal technology designs as socio-cultural instruments designed to encourage volition towards change by both practitioners and researchers. The portals are to foster a desire to enter into public, intra-institutional interactivity concerning knowledge positions in education as defined by the people involved at each site and defined by published and unpublished documents. P D portal spaces can foster conversations or exchange between different institutional actors. Portals can be designed to invoke discussions where actors, participating from different institutional locations, bridge external-internal divides. Portal design can promote three modes o f interaction to take place between people and documents. These include discussion with references and footnotes; adding knowledge documents to make conversations more informed, connected and extended; and, connections between documents and documents through innovative indexing models (Will insky & Wolfson, 1999). These three media o f interaction could evolve into new entities or knowledge spaces that can serve as support systems (for comfort and acceptance through a shared language or vocabulary), sanctuaries (acceptance, shared values, and understanding), libraries (knowledge is filtered and accessible) and learning centers (locations for pursuing deep understandings as well as openings for new evolving epistemic positions) for both practitioners and researchers across institutions in the profession of education. This was the model of the Public Knowledge Project: to create a wellspring of resources, of knowledge documents defining positions and outlining new models. This model was first conceived of as a type of knowledge management system but the foundation of knowledge management (as defined by commerce and management researchers and journals) 45 is to create a system to push the organization into a more productive, self-reliant, or think-tank system where workers spend a part of each day consulting and adding to the system's repository (Sveiby & Lloyd , 1987; Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995). It is a means to collect, store and publish internally the tacit, implicit knowledge of many of its workers. It is a type of digital library and new work practices/training/professional development all combined. The purpose of the P K P portals was to provide a rhetorical space of access and immersion into educational research where users would find scholars whose work (and presence) could constitute (micro and multiple) epistemic communities in one space. User-practitioners would want to engage in these epistemic communities because they could fruitfully express their knowledge claims in stories of practice, in observations from the field, and in dialogic questions and discussions with writer-researchers they admire. Complexities of Employing Technologies toAddress Social Problems (Informatics) Presently, across the proliferation of educational technology studies in the last decade, there are problematic patterns. Studies can be either too promotional, involving speculative writing as they have not yet been tested or implemented or they can place too much positive emphasis (techno-enthusiasm) on one specific tool promoted to solve a range of social problems or to instigate substantial reform. Rarely is the studied tool subjected to critical description or empirical analysis. Often, it is based on enthusiastic assumptions and aspirations. The emphasis of many educational technology studies has been on singular components such as technology leaders, cognitive frameworks underpinning the design, potential contributions of the tool or demonstrations of a framework rather than the combination or the entirety of the network. The extent to which any group can even develop certain desirable community-like traits -before they can even be defined as CoPs, 46 communities of learners, or knowledge-building communities- is a major (large) accomplishment by the designer-researchers and an experience that "many participants find both frustrating and satisfying" (Kl ing & Courtright, 2003, p. 221). Social Informatics 1 4 critics such as K l i n g and Courtright, complain that the casual use of the term community to characterize groups that are engaged in learning has been over-used and misguided particularly in reference to groups using technologies. I particularly agree that there seems to have been an uncritical overemphasis on the term community, particularly "community of practice" (CoP), to characterize any group that "is engaged in learning or e-forums" (Kl ing & Courtright, 2003, p. 221). Instead of focusing on the dream of community building for human participants through a technological artifact, a more useful analysis, that seems to have been de-emphasized or neglected, is an examination of the tool's infrastructural abilities or technical constraints to work in relation with human users. Digital Epistemic Community Portals A goal of the P K P portal study was to see the extent to which the engagement of the portal users (the practitioners), their use of the tool, was aligned to any model of community (CoP, Community of learners, an epistemic community). Barab and Duffy (2000) explain the role o f community in educational contexts as one where, "the goal of participation in a community is to develop a sense of self in relation to society - a society outside of the classroom" (p. 43). In this study of portals as a set of mechanisms and infrastructure constructing and supporting a rhetorical and resource space for sustained interactivity between researchers and practitioners, I examine the role of and participation in community 1 4 Social Informatics is the critical study of the social impact of new technologies (see Kling's foundational articles, What is Social Informatics? (1999) and Learning about information technologies and social change: The contribution of social informatics (2000). It is a sub-field of Information Studies that is gaining support in a variety of fields including education (see Warschauer, 2003a, 2003b). 47 to lessen knowledge loss and isolation and improve knowledge exchange and epistemic identity. The goal o f participation in a P K P portal community was to assist user-practitioners in developing a sense of self in relation to an epistemic community - a community outside o f the classroom yet intimately connected to and invested in teaching and education. For the P K P portal participants, digital infrastructure and tools were to act as an extension and enlargement of users' face-to-face communities, allowing them to engage and expand on their educational understandings in ways not supported by the isolation of their school settings and the limitations of their few and far in between face-to-face interactions with each other and with researchers. However, for those who are not able to reframe their teaching or research contexts to engage in this epistemic interactivity or who are less comfortable with the technology, digital supports can be viewed as either unhelpful hindrances, even threatening by becoming evaluative. Further, evidence from studies of participation in contexts which are recreational, social, and voluntary (Schlager & Fusco, 2003) and social informatics studies (Kling, 1996) suggest that online engagement and community building through internet technologies can be very tenuous and complexly influenced by many technical, social, cultural and affective factors. Collaborative digital environments have been identified as potentially democratizing spaces that allow for multiple "voices" to have opportunity to contribute to and define epistemic communities as well as demand open access to the information they need to further their development (Agre, 1999, 2001; Nardi & O'Day, 1998; Sproull & Kiesler, 1991; Zuboff, 1989). Positions such as these suggest that a community digital environment could provide important support mechanisms for institutional reform (hence, the reform of teaching and teacher knowledge conditions) because the users themselves could define the functions 48 of the tool's infrastructure, the disposition of the community interactions and the content levels required to meet their knowledge needs. At the same time, these portal environments necessitate a level of openness to collaborative knowledge work that could be overwhelming for some (particularly for teachers unaccustomed to this kind of collaborative knowledge work), and so the extent to which the democratizing knowledge ideal of an epistemic community could be achieved was a factor constantly considered in the P K P portal implementation. Need for a Socio-technical Approach It has become increasingly prevalent for most professional development and educational technology interventions with practitioners to be characterized and reported as communities. The term community is really used to depict an ideal of the project, the desired or aspired to state-of-affairs rather than to analyze an existing reality. Instead of assuming that a knowledge space for practitioners on the Internet w i l l result in community (epistemic or otherwise), I turn to an alternative critical methodology, to a socio-technical analysis to counter this aspirational tendency in education literature. The term socio-technical refers to a methodological mix, a practice or even an analysis that integrates social and technical elements in a way that reveals their interactions, interdependencies, and interpenetrations. Socio-technical analysts understand social behaviour and the organization of artifacts (such as websites) in a much more integrative manner. P D portals are structured socio-technically, in that they are co-configured not only by the constraints and "affordances" 1 5 (Norman, 1988) o f the technologies involved, but also by 1 5 The term affordance was first coined by Donald Norman (1988) to denote and describe technical features that beg the use of the object, just as a shoulder-high flat panel on the side of the door "tells" you that the door opens by pushing. 49 social, cultural and institutional factors. A socio-technical analysis for P D portals, such as the P K P portals, offers the best method to avoid techno-determinist arguments o f either pro-enthusiastic portrayals of technology -the technological artifact is the reason for the formation of close, trusting education communities- or techno-indifferent -the technological artifact is unimportant in offering and leveraging support for group development. 50 C H A P T E R 3 Socio-technical Theories and Tools for Analysis The historical point at which I am reviewing and assessing the contributions of the P K P portals is one in the field of educational technologies that has led Kozma (2000) and others (Soloway et. al., 2000) to advocate more multi-disciplinary approaches and creative analysis than the field is presently producing or encompassing. In this chapter, I follow a theoretical perspective (with methodological implications) of interactions between technological agents and social groups that differs from those typically followed in most educational research, particularly in educational technologies and teacher education. In the last decade, a growing literature in the history and sociology of technology has introduced an array of concepts (and terminologies) focused around the idea o f "social construction," which I take to mean that technologies are always developed by groups engaged in building, testing, and using, simultaneously, the technology's meanings and material form. I primarily draw upon the social construction work of Latour (1988, 1991, 1996) and his theory of interactions between human and non-human actors, or networks, to both describe and demonstrate technology as influential on humans (i:e., as a form, environment and tools of knowledge) as humans on the technologies (i.e., as the innovators, designers, constructors, participants and users of prototypes). I also treat technology in this thesis as integral to teacher professional development in a manner that teacher education scholars generally and currently do not. That is, teachers/practitioners necessarily transform technology just as technology transforms their practices and social relations. A n d I add to the literature of educational technologies by demonstrating that practitioners, human-actors, 51 engaged in the use/non-use and implementation/resistance of technologies, transform portal design and development as much as the portal transforms their practices. In this chapter, I first introduce Latour's terminology of socio-technical relations or analysis, then illustrate his points and terms with examples from his own work of Aramis: or the Love of Technology (1996), and finally lay out how I use his conceptual language in examining the work of the P K P portals by adopting a socio-technical approach similar to Latour's A N T . In my work with digital P D portals intended as forums for participatory design with teacher-practitioners, I needed a theory (and methodology) of technological change as a social process that would permit an analysis pointing in two directions: 1) the design, tinkering, or bricolage o f the portals by the users and designer-researchers, and 2) the balance o f the portal's construction with its converse, which is to say the portal's construction of the users' social world. A t this stage of analysis, I can view the non-linear emphasis of the P K P portal projects where the portal's construction was influenced by the social players as well as the portal constructing a social "micro-world" (Huberman, 1999), or knowledge environment, where the practitioners and researchers interacted and engaged in knowledge exchange, connections and interpretation (knowledge construction). B y employing the language and terms of Latour's actor-network theory (ANT) , I examine the relationships between the meanings o f technological artifacts such as digital P D portals and their socio-political implementation by directing the same attention to the material and technical elements as I do to the socio-political elements. 52 M y framework for understanding the P K P P D portal prototypes' history, concluding in the portals' diminished realization 1 6 , draws upon multiple related socio-technical approaches, predominantly located inside science and technology studies (STS), and one of its central concepts, actor-network theory. I look to this field for its longer history of examining socio-technical work and socio-technical system design. A n d I look to scholars in this field who creatively document and describe technological practices as richly social practices. These scholars include Bijker (1997), Haraway (1991, 1997), Shapin & Schaffer (1985), Callon (1986, 1991) and Bruno Latour (1987, 1991, 1996, 1999a). Bijker's research in the social construction or social shaping of technology - sociotechnical analysis of bikes, bakelites, etc. - signals the power o f an analysis of technology guided first and foremost by its role in social groups. He describes how social interpretations of problems (by the target groups or users) fix the meaning and material, physical form of particular technologies. For example, the first bicycles were perceived as too athletically daring and physically dangerous to work for any but the ultra-athletic and adventure-seekers, a very small user group. Hence, the problems associated with this high bicycle and other groups' desire for greater bicycle usage drove the bicycle design development into the shape of a smaller, easier to mount bicycle. Bijker's idea of "technological frames" refers to the combinations of concepts, theories, goals, and practices used by groups attempting to solve technological problems. Shapin & Schaffer (1985) define various "technologies," including the material, the literary, and the social, that seventeenth-century scientists employed to establish a social space wherein experiments could count as establishing facts. Their work points to the importance 1 6 Realization is a specific A N T term where Latour describes the actualization and materialization of a prototype as realized, that is, the drawings and plans have taken material form and exist in use (see Latour, 1996, p. 199). 53 of performance of the scientific or technological actor for a select, elite group's "seeing" in order to establish and adjudicate fact or scientific truth. This brief sample of socio-technical works present deep and deeply important conceptions of technological change. They help us to understand technological change as a social process, but they do so by focusing on the technology (whether the pump for Schapin & Schaffer or the bicycle for Bijker), and the technology's stages of development -innovation, design- as an entity o f analysis as equally worthy as the social analysis. These socio-technical approaches are all to some degree non-techno-instrumentalist or socially irreductionist 1 7 frameworks (Kaghan & Bowker, 2000). They are concerned with how socio-technical systems - systems or networks of people, technologies, and practices-are created and maintained. A n d they refer to a similar analytical principle: these systems are not determined by technical mechanisms alone; they are not technologically determined but must be socially examined, worked and theorized in order to become stable accounts. The social order is also not pre-determined or given by the technological artifact: the socio-technical system, or network, is continually re-constructed and re-ordered through the actors' (both human and non-human) activities and interactions with one another. Callon (1988), a leading theorist of actor-network theory ( A N T ) , was the originator o f the term "network" (1986). A N T emanated from Science and Technology Studies (STS) with ethnographic studies of laboratories and the socio-technical processes by which scientific discoveries gain currency, mobilize resources, and collect allies via the practical social work both inside and outside the laboratory (Latour, 1987; Latour & Woolgar, 1991). A N T sees power and order as effects to be described and, in the process o f description/observation, 1 7 Please see footnote #6 on p. 16, Chapter 1, for a fuller explanation of the term, irreductionist. 54 18 analyzed. A N T argues that key elements (and terms) such as actors/actants, translation, inscriptions, enrolling and controlling allies, intermediaries, black boxes, and the acquisition of resources, help constitute a challenge to traditional boundaries between technology and society, science and politics, and, by analogy, between portals and educators. These conceptual terms and, by extension, the method of A N T (which I discuss as an ethnography of infrastructure or a socio-technical methodology, following Star's example (1999), in Chapter Five), also help to explain the de-stabilization, de-realization, or failure of socio-technical systems such as Latour's account of Aramis (1996) and the conclusion of P K P ' s most expensive, well-funded, and sophisticated P D portal, E d X . 1 9 M y purpose in this chapter is to outline a conceptual terminology toolkit, consisting of A N T and Science & Technology Studies, to analyze teacher professional development portals as socio-technical systems, as networks. The contribution of this ANT-informed, socio-technical approach to the P K P prototypes is not simply a reflection of the artifacts themselves but rather a record of development in digital professional development. The method's purpose is not about locating, defining, or evaluating the P K P portals inside taxonomies of educational artifacts, but rather registering the historical design and realization process of P K P into the study o f digital professional development. The A N T adopted approach is a toolkit of terms for observing how an electronic professional development artifact, its users, and its designers attempted to make a difference or transform teacher education. The A N T terms do not promote an account of an endlessly reflective mirror on the 1 81 w i l l predominantly use the term "actor" throughout the thesis, even though Latour often uses the term "actant" to signal a definition o f the term that does not rule out nonhumans as val id (social) actors comparable to humans. I w i l l mainly use the term actor since it is more familiar for the reader. But its association needs to remain o f equal weight between human and non-human entities. 1 9 Aramis is the account o f a failed automated personal train system in Paris—how it came into and then lost its existence, resulting in failure or death, surviving only in Latour's own analysis. 55 tool's set of technical features or on a cognitive framework scaffolding the design. It works to bridge the great divide in technologies' accounts: the divide between "popularizing technology and denouncing its politics" (Latour, 1996, p. vi i i ) . I am working these theoretical concepts and terms as contingent, practical, hypothetical tools with which to think and communicate about portals in digital teacher professional development. I am testing to see i f Latour and others from these socio-technical fields have productive, fruitful theoretical concepts for analyzing my specific work with the P K P P D portals, and for teacher education technologies in general. I am attempting to enrich theoretical development in educational technologies by referring to socio-technical theories in order to simultaneously contend with the P K P portal empirical details and yet broaden the account away from its own particularities. The Network The primary element and theoretical contribution of A N T is the actor-network which is "any collection of humans, non-humans, and hybrid human-non-human actors who jointly participate in some organized and identifiable collective activity in some fashion for some period of time" (Kaghan & Bowker, 2000, p. 258). A N T is concerned with how these pieces or actors are held together, how they form as amalgams of organizations, social institutions, machines, artifacts, and agents, at least for a time. The most unusual and robust contribution of A N T to the study of socio-technical systems is the inclusion and agency of the non-human. According to A N T , networks are heterogeneous, composed not only o f people but also machines, texts, functions, funds/grants and other elements. The P K P prototypes were networks, in a Latourian sense, as they were composed of heterogeneous actors: pre-service teachers, in-service teachers, university researchers, private 56 sector project managers, software developers, university program instructors, teacher-mentors, W e b C T discussion boards, diploma program website, web-based public e-documents, internet browsers, portal prototypes, servers, firewalls, school computer labs, university computer labs, federal funds, funding pre-requisites, database indexes, tags and classifications. In what follows, I have analyzed how these pieces came together, how some pieces formed for a time, how some didn't enfold into the network or built weak tentative alliances, and how the network ultimately faltered. Examples from STS and A N T suggest the extent to which the success of a scientific or technological entity depends upon the manipulation o f the world outside the laboratory or the system and the forging of alliances with users and non-users. The network and its claims work not because the portal prototype is true to the intended group's world, institution, or social context but because the institution or social context is tinkered with (explicitly or tacitly), transformed, or co-constituted by the prototype and this in turn makes the network work. Infrastructural work, such as the development of standards and common platforms, the cooperation of provincial/federal agencies, and complying servers and firewalls, is also required to achieve the claim or the usability of the prototype (as materialized through the system) to work in the wider world in the attempt to effect an institution such as teaching. Socio-technical systems innovation must be consistently applied or co-constituted in order to work and in order to strive towards convergence. 2 0 Socio-technical systems or networks do not work in just any reality, but only in a particularly (re)worked, designed, and co-constituted context. See Bowker & Star (2002) and Star, Bowker, & Neumann (2003) for a detailed definition of convergence. Briefly, it is an ideal "fit" of tool/artifact with a group's needs and social, epistemic functions. 57 Latour and other A N T scholars view a socio-technical system or actor-network as an entity with a personality or a "machine with a soul" (Kidder, 1981). It is not necessarily an anthropomorphic concept but rather a prototype exerting force in the manner that we view human actors as forces in a network. Latour's theory is a set of conceptual terms whose purpose is to be deployed as a methodological toolkit to follow these forces. Theoretically, we work to understand who are the actors and how to observe them in order to describe and follow their actions. Latour is careful with the terminology, the descriptors of A N T , because there is the problem of the analyst/reader assuming that they understand the concept "network' from their own use of the Internet and networked computers. Latour prefers to invert the term as a "worknet" where "the work, the movement, the flow, and changes of and between actants should be stressed" (Latour, 2004). The Actors A N T is both a theory-method that takes into symmetrical account the technical tools 2 1 , or non-human actors, as well as the human spokespersons, or the human social actors. What necessarily arises in tracing the network through its links are not two actors who are essentially different, or dissimilar in nature, but the evidence o f co-evolution of two actors. The actors, humans and nonhumans, appear as different when we concern ourselves with evaluating or differentiating their qualities. A n d , as Latour says, "it is as i f we might call technology the moment when social assemblages gain stability by aligning actors and observers" (1991, p. 129). A researcher following Latour's approach, following Latour's 2 1 The thesis uses the terms artifact, quasi-object, tool, prototype, and system to all refer to the knowledge portals developed by the Public Knowledge Project. Each term is similar in its reference to an entity that is not firmly established or black-boxed in education. However, each term does have its minor emphasis. Tool brings attention to computer technology as a medium and process rather than an end in itself. Prototype emphasizes the experimental quality of the emerging entity and its openness to revision. Quasi-object is Latour's preferred term (1996). System emphasizes the techno-social system surrounding, supporting, and holding a tool in a position (Bowker, Star, Turner, & Gasser, 1997). 58 ways of observing, is alerted to detect particular moments in practice where the actions o f the actors are aligned with a certain desire. The interactions of people and machines are interpreted by human participants (actors or actants) through a form of social negotiation, with actions and meanings negotiated in context by the participants, both human and non-human. The actor-network theory o f Latour and Callon directs attention to the ways technologies function as networks of power in which the enrollment of active allies (humans and machines) is a primary mechanism. The next element of Latour's conceptual method is locating and following these relevant social and technical elements or actors constituting the network. This thesis involves problems in describing technical artifacts in education. The P K P portal experiments were constructed to address the social and technical needs and problems of educational technologies for teacher knowledge management, education epistemic communities, and digital professional development. A central claim in this socio-technical approach is that the "description o f relevant social groups (actors) is as important as the detailed description of artifacts in standard technical histories" (Bijker, 1997, p. 47). The empirical research of the implementation of the P K P portals helps identify the social groups that were relevant for the portal networks. I interviewed human users (and human non-users) of the P K P prototypes in an accumulative fashion in order to get a more complete picture of the sets of actors involved in the controversy. 2 2 After I followed the actors, I describe these relevant groups in more detail to determine how to delineate them from other relevant groups. Actors simplify and reorder their world by forgetting about obsolete distinctions or by drawing new boundaries (Bijker, 1997, p. 48). They switch to a 2 2 Controversy here refers to an unsettled account as well as an undecided verdict on the stability of the network (see Latour, 1987). 59 different artifact (witness one mentor's use of ICQ for mentor discussions and a Yahoo chat room for his in-service mentee group) or the user group expands beyond original indication (the research-inclined, teacher-education-centred mentor used E d X in manners unforeseen). These groups or actors are also relevant for the analyst when I set out to explain the development of technical changes with the P K P portals. The identification, delineation, and description of relevant actor or social groups apply to the characterization and description of artifacts. " I f we want to understand the development of technology as a social process, it is crucial to understand the artifacts as they are viewed and transmogrified by the relevant social groups. If we do otherwise, the technology again takes on an autonomous life of its very own" (Bijker, p. 49). Thus in this conceptual model, the meanings attributed to the artifact by the different relevant social groups, or actors, constitute the artifact. Displacement, Translation, Enrollment, and Obligatory Passage Points Both human and non-human actors must be "enrolled" into the network through translation, defined by Law & Callon (1988, pp. 288-289) as "a process in which sets of relations between projects, interests, goals, and naturally-occurring entities - objects which might otherwise be quite separate from one another- are proposed and brought into being." The P K P researchers along with the project or system managers defined a problem, and designed/delineated the actors involved (and to invite) so as to fit the defined problem and proposed solution. Designers of portals want to establish their systems as the "obligatory passage points" through which the actors must work to solve the problem or satisfy the need (Callon, 1986). Designers must also work to keep competitors away from the actors they want to enroll. They cannot enroll all o f the actors at once, so they focus on (what they hope 60 is) a representative sample of the population, adjusting their projects to get the sample to cooperate (Callon, 1986). 2 3 We, the research-design team of P K P , wanted teacher-users to turn to our P D portals as their vital link or bridge into educational research. We wanted to construct visions (or narratives) o f knowledge management or epistemic portals as the solution, the missing link, to problems in conventional P D programs. We were trying to establish the P K P portals in the manner of what Latour (1987) and Callon (1986) have called "obligatory passage points" in the study of digital teacher education. That is, any study of P D programs or systems would henceforth have to proceed by way of the tools, techniques, and concepts innovated and established by the P K P P D portal precedents. In the P K P goal and shift towards a new narrative o f teacher education, in particular, digital professional development, was the dictum that teachers have the right to know, the right to open, free access of educational research commenting on and influencing their profession, practices, and knowledge. 2 4 A N T generally emphasizes scientists or engineers' (designers') strategies of persuasion in the enrolment o f allies. If they are successful, the scientists or system designers become the general representatives of the populations involved and can speak for and about them in a discourse of certainty. The populations have been displaced - moved from their original state into an enrolled state within the scientists' network or the technological project (Callon, 1986). A s an actor or group of actors is displaced, they are moved away from their original position to a convincingly translated new position. This new place is acceptable to the newly enrolled actor because it has been translated to such an extent that the move is 2 3 Enrolling a representation of the population (the delegates) is a process of scalability. 2 4 See the motto of PKP-VanSun's homepage with the moving banner "You have the right to know." (www.pkp.ubc.ca) 61 workable, amenable, and now enrolls or represents their interests as well . However, in the process of translation, the original members or actors of the network, are themselves displaced: they have had to shift their own interests, translate their positions in order to enroll other actors. Thus, the chains o f the network are restlessly dynamic, rarely certain, and stability is a question of stable, predictable movement. Latour (1987) urges the analyst to follow the actors of the network and observe how they translate and transform the knowledge claims under question. This work of transformation (or transmogrification, as described by Bijker) is driven by the activity of actors enrolling and controlling other actors or allies in the network towards the interest of the project and the claim. A s one actor attempts to enroll and control other actors, similarly, other actors are attempting to enroll and control it. The result is translations of interests, transformations (and displacements), to some degree, in all directions in the network's chains. Resistance Latour's (1987) description of a network generally follows that which resists. The network is changed by the resistances, interactions, and, translations that it encounters between and with its actors. In each encounter, the effects are mutually given, hence, the chain effects of the network or the socio-technical system. The method of the thesis is meant to acknowledge and register the resistances of actors as part of the translation and participatory mode of the project. The encountered resistance is not interpreted as "interference" to the design team's projection or force in developing teacher professional development prototypes. Latour (1986) eschews, while acknowledging the appeal, o f such a model of social determinism. "The advantage of such a 62 model is that everything may be explained either by talking about the initial force or by pointing to the resisting medium: when an order is faithfully executed, one simply says that the masters had a lot of power; when it is not, one merely argues that the masters' power met with a lot of resistance" (p. 267). A Latourian or A N T goal is to make visible those things that have been lost in.the artifact/portal's description (up to this moment) such as resistances; not in order to make the other meanings disappear, but rather to make it impossible for one bottom line, for the final account and record of the P K P teacher professional development portals, to be one single statement. Resistance to an information system by its actors provides important instances for research where the analyst/observer has to follow the resistances (Latour) and distinguish between resistance that is either irrational (disruptions to the system) and opportunistic (sabotage) or resistance that arises from a poorly designed system for the designated users' epistemic needs or world view. Resistance is often a result of actors' readings/perceptions of the system as counter-productive or contrary to their worldview, discourse, or practices. Resistance reveals the inherent dualisms of perception o f a socio-technical system (Bijker, 1997; Barab et. al., 2003). A n information system (portals) can be viewed simultaneously by actors as a productive solution or affordance -the portal contributes to their worldview and practices, and they are thus enrolled- or the portal can be viewed as an obstacle or significant problem - i t is a disruption to their worldview, interference to their practices and thus they are repelled or not enrolled into the system. This was a critically important variable in the complexity o f the P K P projects: the actors simultaneously viewed the same portal as representing or embodying oppositional metaphors (i.e., either it was informative, enlightening and enlarging the teacher's desire to participate in educational research or it was 63 overwhelming, uncomfortable, and reducing the teacher's desire to participate in educational research). I am delineating and following Latour's (1986, 1987) analysis of the development of a network around (or through) a technical innovation or tool as that which resists. The (actor-) network may be changed by the resistances, or, to use a more neutral term, by the interactions/translations that it encounters from other actors and networks or the outside of the network. The results are the actor-network's view becomes effectively distributed (when, for example, an educational technology such as a calculator becomes integrated in a non-obvious, seamless manner into the classroom math curriculum) or the network's view is marginalized until it is ineffective (hence, no teacher uses an educational technical tool in the delivery of curriculum). To have an oppositional effect, resistance needs to be recognized as such by the organization. In the P K P cases, recognizable human 'resistance' might be characterized by the actions of mentors or teacher-educators, for example, who do not add knowledge resources to the portals' repositories; or they do not attempt to technically guide their mentees when these teachers are accessing the portal (i.e., when the organizational design o f the prototype intended the mediation or technical leadership to be brought into play). Thus, in deciding to deploy an action that might be taken as some form of resistance, the human actors (e.g., mentors) offer an "anti-program." On the part of non-human actants, an "anti-program" might arise i f there is a repetitive technological "fault" or flaw, such as the search engine or search commands of the portal do not produce any related resources to the selected key terms or the portal system does not respond or function in internet browsers other than Microsoft's Internet Explorer. 64 Latour is urging us to follow the actors o f the network and observe how they transform the knowledge claim under question. This work o f transformation is driven by the activity of actors enrolling and controlling other actors or allies in the network towards their interest in the project and the claim. A s one actor attempts to enroll and control other actors, similarly, other actors are attempting to enroll and control it. The result is transformations, to some degree, in all directions in the network's chain. Purpose and Method of ANT Terminology Latour has not created these terms, these neologisms, in order to adjudicate, judge, or enforce meanings upon the actors. Central to the process of A N T is the semiotic work of description. A N T does not proceed from a policing of terms, but proceeds through description as a means to follow the actors and the translations. What is interesting in the A N T method is how many ways there are to translate, to bring into relation meanings o f the artifact, or the entity itself. The central activity of A N T and the dictum of Latour is follow the many actors and heed to what they say. Neither the actors nor the translations of the network are denounced. The A N T method is an uncritical and agnostic process. Latour's intention is that we observe all actors/actants, human and non-human, as having capacity to transform practices. Latour's approach is irreductionist in that he does not advocate for any one actor or group of actors, human or non-human, as having greater influence, greater force to determine the network's outcomes of stability, its realization. Black-boxing The black-box refers to an image of a box that controls both the input and the output. The inner workings of the box are too complex to investigate or to challenge, therefore, we only see and are concerned with the input and the output (Latour, 1987, pp. 2-3). The box 65 itself is 'black', opaque and impossible to discern. Ideally, an actor, be they a project, process, machine, idea or person, may prefer to attain black-box status as their behaviour is taken for granted and not amenable to reconsideration, thus not open to re-shaping. In educational technology, we are at a stage where the facts and the machines that create educational technology programs have not been black-boxed. It is a controversial and flexible time for educational technology prototypes, experiments in use, and teacher practice reform. N o one knows what the 'ki l ler app ' 2 5 for education or specifically for teacher education is to be or become. N o one knows how or even i f tools w i l l leverage or change the pedagogical-curricular output of the school. N o one is yet convinced that they have a tool that only requires inputs and assures the right output. Many teachers are reluctant to teach with computers, to trust in the notion of a computer's pedagogical abilities and efficiency (and with some valid reasons). 2 6 The educational technology programs thus far have not been successful in rendering the tools invisible, seamlessly integrated into teachers' knowledge and teaching practices. In many schools, the tools may be physically invisible because they do not yet run efficiently or they have no defined purpose by the practitioner and are hence "underused" in classrooms (Cuban, 2001). Once there is an invention/development of a professional portal for teachers which triumphs longevity, credible brand-name status and loyalty of users, this future artifact w i l l lead to closure and stabilization in the discussion of electronic teacher education. This future artifact may become the black-box o f digital teacher professional development. But this future moment may not be near. Consequently, when describing the recent history of digital 2 5 This is a technicist term that literally means the "killer application". It refers to an application as the one that outdoes any other competitors and becomes the most unquestioned, universally accepted, computer application. 2 6 For an elaboration of these reasons, see Bryson & de CastelPs (1998a) article, "Imagining teachers as luddites in/deed." 66 professional development artifacts, precedents such as PKP-VanSun and E d X need to be described and examined as a series o f socio-technical opportunities for creating and 27 stabilizing an educational epistemic community network (that were not fully realized). Intermediaries " A n intermediary is an actor (of any type [i.e. human or non-human]) that stands at a place in the network between two other actors and serves to translate between the actors in such a way that their interaction can be more effectively coordinated, controlled, or otherwise articulated" (Kaghan & Bowker, 2001, p. 258). Because networks are never completely stabilized, translation is continual and this is the central work of intermediaries. The actor-network theorist, Callon (1991) states "an intermediary is anything passing between actors which defines the relationship between them" (p. 134). But according to Latour (2004), intermediaries are dopes or puppets. Intermediaries are passive -they are not actors, acting in the sense that Latour intended that word. Intermediaries do nothing on their own. Mediators, on the other hand, modify and mediate texts. Mediators trans-form information. Mediators translate (1996, p. 219). I prefer the definition of intermediaries as those actors responsible for the invisible work of mediation that often under girds the support for the social growth and increasing trust in the network (Star & Strauss, 1999). This conceptualization of the term, intermediaries, best captures the effective knowledge work of the enrolled teacher-educators in the P K P portals. Intermediaries are those individuals and organizations that facilitate connections between users (i.e., between teachers, between teachers and teacher-researchers) and between users and the system's knowledge resources (i.e., documents, research Latour (1991) uses the word "realize" to emphasize how networks are not simply constructed and intentions materialized but rather the network must be observed and the actors aligned for the entity to exist. 67 resources, policies, etc.). It is a very active role yet one mostly invisible to observers as it is taken-for-granted. Intermediaries in a community portal can increase access to the system's content or repository: through active suggestion and modeling, they can help teachers want to locate primary sources, return to read documents from the repository, and articulate positions in connection with the content. Intermediaries can be effective human screens for filtering or actively connecting: they point teachers towards knowledge resources that may begin to engage them in dialogue about their specific needs or point them towards researchers (research texts) who are grappling with similar puzzles o f practice or questions of teaching. Inscriptions and Epistemic Communities Inscriptions are the stabilized messages (texts, graphs, diagrams, maps, etc.) that communicate at a distance in the network. A N T addresses the role of inscriptions in establishing credibility and stability, order and power (Latour, 1986; Law, 1992). Inscriptions play a key role in the creation of knowledge and the processes by which knowledge communities decide what and whom to believe. Inscriptions permit interests to be translated, networks stabilized, and the outside of the lab to be worked and controlled. Portals enhance the ease with which inscriptions (documents, resources, researcher texts) cross institutional or community boundaries making Latour's "immutable mobiles," mutable mobiles, In digital environments, inscriptions gain mobility but through their mobility and their digital form, they become increasingly mutable or open to transmogrification (e.g., excerpted selections or abstracts o f documents representing the whole; additions or revisions to the original document appearing as the primary source document, etc.) (Brown & Duguid, 1996; Levy, 1994). In the P K P portals, we have the 68 makings of cross-institutional boundary objects 2 8 where researchers/academics can have their work posted for and discussed by beginning and established practitioners as well as other documents or research objects for analysis and discussion by both practitioners and researchers. Epistemic communities need to take on the role o f determining the inscriptions/boundary objects that w i l l both enter or cross into their knowledge base (what they perceive as valid knowledge worth including) as well as those inscriptions/boundary objects that they need to send out, to distinguish their epistemic community, as stakes of their knowledge claims. Portal and open access technologies (such as the P K P portals) help facilitate the conditions to exert this kind of public knowledge work and epistemic community development. Complexity and Socio-technical Analysis Socio-technical analysis is important for portal design to make progress or evolve and for observing actors' decisions or actions as contributive (affordances, D . Norman, 1988) or disruptive (hindrances or resistances) to the prototype's network life and stability. Ironically, the time and energy to do this conceptual work is rarely available in the empirical crunch to make the system function and maximize its mechanisms and features. The middle ground, somewhere between the maximal technical and the over-simplistic social, is not an easily apparent set of mappings for a teacher education portal in-the-making. Socio-technical concepts bridge the divided conceptual terrain of the technical and the social/institutional and they enable researcher-designers to work simultaneously and more equally these co-evolving sets and chains o f actors. This term from S. L . Star and J. Greismer (1989) refers to those information objects capable of crossing the social boundaries between communities. 69 Designing, maintaining, and reviewing a teacher professional development portal involves comprehending social and technical phenomena of increasing complexity. As Latour (1996) contrasts complexity and complicated, we can begin to see how complex networks are and consequently, how complex the work of socio-technical analysis needs to be. "For complication is just the opposite of complexity: a complicated task is one made up of many steps, each one of which is simple: a complex task, as the name indicates, is one that simultaneously embraces a large number of variables none of which can be identified separately" (p. 219). So what comes to the fore in this chapter is a conceptual toolkit meant to assist in observing and analyzing a "large number of variables" or actor positions, ever shifting and interconnected in a chain with others. The work of this chapter thus far has been to engage in conceptual traffic control, describing the concepts of translation and transformation (or transmogrification), enrolling and controlling allies, obligatory points of passage, resistance and displacement; black-boxes; intermediaries or mediators; and, inscriptions and im/mutable mobiles. No single conceptual term explains everything but, together,the A N T terms of this chapter help assist educational researchers understand how to follow the actors and observe multiple positions, perceptions, and encounters involved in the chains of the network. Together, these concepts help highlight the complexity of relationships inside (in the making and using of the portals) and outside of prototypes (the funding mechanisms, the peer review and audits, the development of other portals, including teacher education portals). The Case of Aramis To demonstrate how these conceptual terms can work to reveal and describe a network through a case study of technology, I refer briefly to the case study of Aramis, a rail 70 system, documented in Latour's (1996) book, Aramis: or the Love of Technology. And , it was this book in particular that inspired me to re-examine and review the project of the P K P portals to determine why they did not become accepted practices and stable objects in teacher education and to give these portals the textual account they deserved. In the book, Aramis, Latour has written something very close to a sociological novel (a "scientifiction," p. ix) about a public transportation project that nearly "transformed into an object", but which instead, "[i]n the archives,... turn[ed] back into a text, a technological fiction" (p. 24). The Aramis transit project, an innovative Rapid Personal Transit (PRT) system intended to service densely-populated urban centres, was to be the obligatory passage point of public transit in the larger metropolitan area of Paris. Latour describes an extraordinarily well-designed, semi-personal robotic rail transit system that moves independently to collect and transport passengers to their stated destination stations. It was a network comprised of many human actors including c iv i l engineers, politicians (municipal and state authorities), corporations, town planners, commuters, journalists, and many non-human actors including robotics, train cars, non-material couplings (such as inter-car linkages orchestrated electronically, optically and acoustically), variable reluctance motors, computerized onboard control units, and new plans of track layouts. A l l o f these actors (and more) were in constant motion or displacement through chains of translation, encountering resistances and translating interests to enroll and control allies. The network was stable and realizing for a period of time (close to 25 years) and was able to evolve through several prototype stages but it wasn't stable enough to become a complete object, implemented with commuters in Paris. After millions of francs and years of development, the Aramis project was scrapped and the object became textual inscription. B y the end of the book, the two narrators and key human actors do not attain a complete history or total resolution of the death o f Aramis. Instead, they attain a list o f different understandings of Aramis, summarized from those actors involved in the building of this train-that-never-was. Latour's central question of the book -why did Aramis fail to gain reality?- is answered by the insight that there were far too few compromises or far too few translations and transformations achieved in the design, creation, and construction of Aramis by both human and non-human actors. The list of frequently divergent, even contentious, understandings and resistances were never manageable enough to be translatable or agreeable for the many actors involved to become enrolled and controlled. A t the close of the book, as the French government retracts the last set of funding, Latour concludes that the blame for the failure or death of Aramis is the belief in the existence of "complete objects." Latour claims that it is this (modern) belief that prevented Aramis from aligning the chains of "passions, transported people, money, Communist ministers and software" (p. 213), because, when Aramis was treated as a complete and finished object, it could not transform itself "to hold on to its environment, and ... gain in existence" (p. 212). This belief in complete and completed objects also led to Aramis being labeled a failure, even though many o f its disassembled actors went on to success in networks elsewhere: an entire public transport system based on a pared-down Aramis (called V A L ) was built in L i l l e . A n d the Aramis project's desire and driving goal for the attainment of a hybrid transit system combining the independence of an automobile and the transport efficiency of a regular railway train, continues to this day. Transformative Technologies for Teacher Education At this point, the reader may be wondering why should we want to describe educational technologies and digital professional development as human and non-human relations as in Latour's approach? What in this approach appeals, particularly in teacher education? I draw upon Latour's analytic strategies, Latour's method, for an educational technology and digital teacher education purpose. I use this method to follow chains of engagements of "what holds and what does not hold together" (Latour, 1991, p. 110) in digital teacher education portals. A n d I deploy Latour's techniques, his conceptual terms, to ascertain how practitioners (teachers) and teacher educators are transformed into practitioners who accommodate particular forms of computer and portal technologies in their customary practices o f relating and acting as teachers. A s well , in a manner that augments K l i n g (1996, 2003) and Warschauer's (1999, 2003) approach to social informatics, I illustrate how it is that humans, including teachers, inevitably transform non-human actors or digital tools and artifacts. It is my intention to illustrate that power or control to effect change, or, reform, lies not in any individual instructor, professional development program, or technological device/application, but in the translations and mediations of certain social or socio-technical relations for other relations; and, that these transformations in practices arise in particular socio-technical associations. In the analysis of socio-technical relations in teacher education, I recognize change and reform in teacher education as a displacement29 o f the ways that practices of 'teaching' are enacted and experienced by practitioners (human actors). I wish to underline the importance o f this theoretical move: in traditional analyses o f teacher reform, of teacher 2 9 When practitioners align themselves with one teaching practice (pedagogy) or another, they substitute previously held perspectives and practices for others, and the old practices are 'displaced' in a move that can appear as power and control by the innovators of the new practices, of the new technologies. 7 3 development, it appears that teacher educators, professional development instructors or teacher-researchers (those from the "outside" of schools) control an agenda, a shaping over human and nonhuman others. In this way, in any depiction of the social or technical as a cause of domination (of ultimate force in shaping the network), an argument or sub-text emerges that blames the practitioners and positions practitioners to suspect or distrust the institutional role of outside experts. Blaming teachers for lack o f reform suggests that while practitioners have the power to change the way they act in schools and classrooms, they choose not to exert such influence, particularly over themselves in their own practice (their reflexivity or their praxis). When such a choice is made, the teachers implicate themselves as controllers of their own classroom and professional fate. This conceptualization of power relations in teacher's work and in P D assumes that individuals are fully autonomous. I seek to also open and displace (sic) this concept of teacher education for debate. In this chapter, I suggest that in engaging with statements of social action or social change involving technology, people cannot help but participate in the enactment of power relations, in the enrolling and controlling of others. However, I also suggest that technology is a far more powerful actor in conditioning teachers' decisions than Is traditionally recognized, and it is becoming a more powerful actor as educational technologies development increases and increases in its school implementation and presence. If we think of technology as actively shaping human decision-making processes (Wajcman & McKenzie , 1999), then it becomes possible to see power distributed across a whole range o f actors. It also becomes possible to see that people can act differently than might be expected in any encounter with technology, and are able to displace, modify, and change an existing chain or effect of power. . 74 It is important for all teachers to be aware that, according to Latour's A N T approach to understanding power, force in the shaping or transformation of practices is itself an effect, not a cause of positioning. Power and control in a network can be described in a series of transformative associations made "durable" by technology, and open for the possibility of revision (Latour, 1991). For instance, teachers commonly take administrative directives (i.e., to use a particular computer platform, or to use the district's intranet and designated internet browser software) as issues of organizational authority and view their practices as ruled by administrators' power. Once it is described in socio-technical terms, as Latour would describe it, that teachers' own associations with the computer/Internet or the choice of software effect translations and substitutions in their relations with administrators, then it is possible to reconstruct the whole practice differently (e.g., use the computer/portal in some situations and not in others, or all the time, or not at all). It would seem that i f technology continues to be represented and described in teaching practices (and teacher education) as an add-on, or a tool to enable teachers to accomplish "work," then teachers will continue to have problems in technological practice and participating in epistemic communities. Problems will be addressed by seeking to refuse the technology (not use the portal), alter it, and/or replace it with another. Recalling the transformative effects of mobilization of non-human actors into practice as shown by Latour, it becomes evident that problems with technology will not be resolved, simply by removing or ignoring the technological artifact. It must also be acknowledged that, just as the addition of innovations may be necessary to strengthen associations with any program, removal of any human or non-human actor will alter the network. Predictability will be gained, or lost, and the network destabilized. Such additions or removals are openings in any chain of human and 75 non-human relations and offer a possibility for negotiation and realignment of power and domination. It also becomes evident that when an intention or "desire" is acted on in practice (whether it is a practice of building transit systems or of teaching with technologies), the innovator(s) is positioned to encourage fulfillment of that intention and that computer technology is but one of the innovative means available to tip the balance on a gradient of accommodation. Discretionary decision-making practices dictate innovative (human and non-human) loads that serve to position humans in particular relationships with other human and non-human actors. Conclusion The approach of this study is ANT-derived and socio-technical and, as such, reflects a twofold interest. First, I endeavor to answer the empirically oriented question, where did the P K P portals find strength or alignment and why did they falter in enrolling chains of users? In this way, I hope to contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of the challenges involved in digital teacher professional development than has yet appeared i n either the teacher education or the educational technologies literatures. The A N T set of conceptual terms and semiotic practice permits me to investigate the manner in which we (different stakeholder groups or actors) are co-responsible for and co-constituted in these prototypes (digital worlds such as the actor-network world of the P K P portals). I am not attempting to make these observations from a simplistic " I ' m for it or against i t" standpoint, as some o f the E d X mentors (key human actors) were wi l l ing to repeatedly state, and, as I positioned them to declare in the heat of project deadlines and the thick of their resistance. I do not intend to tell a simple, determinist, political heroics story 76 about resistance versus complicity. What the ANT toolkit of terms allow me to demonstrate is that many kinds of agency, both human and non-human, have to be recognized, encouraged, followed, and observed. Both knowledge and agency are not things that are immediately apparent and given, but things the observer/methodologist must describe and trace in the socio-technical network. This work is an empirical account, a thick description of how the portal system and its infrastructure evolved and faltered, and, equally, how the relevant actors, human and non-human, intended and participating, resisted making enough amenable compromise to take full advantage of the PKP portals. 77 C H A P T E R 4 Setting the Study: Locating the Contexts Although the study under-girding this research was located in the Public Knowledge Project and, particularly, in its professional development portals, as I have stated in the introduction, this dissertation is not a specific or traditional evaluation of its work with teachers.3 0 Rather, it focuses on following particular forces or actors, human and non-human, embedded within, between, and around the portals, and how those actors influenced one another in the ensuing chains or network of connections and disconnections. Sti l l , an overview o f the Public Knowledge Project, the two implemented P K P professional development portals (PKP-VanSun and E d X ) , and the teacher education programs in which they were tested (the C I T E cohort and the N E T T L program) needs to be introduced in order to assist readers in following the actors, contextualize the issues, and follow the portals' effects or chains of enrollment and displacement. In this chapter, I present this overview in a chronological manner in order to help the reader better navigate and situate this study. Overview of Public Knowledge Project The data for the thesis was gathered over a three-year period (1999 to 2002) by direct participation, as a Graduate Research Assistant, in the Public Knowledge Project (PKP) , a research consortium directed by Dr. John Wil l insky in the Faculty o f Education at the University o f British Columbia (www.pkp.ubc.ca). P K P continues to the present day and encompasses many Internet-based projects, mostly focused on digital scholarly communication and academic open-source publishing initiatives. The commonality between 3 0 Traditional evaluations of information technologies often treat users as objects of the tool and pay little or indirect attention to the social impacts and effects of the prototype's use. Please see Chapter 5 for a more in-depth discussion. 78 these more recent projects and the design and implementation of the earlier professional development portals is the commitment to maximizing the public potential of the Internet for both the communication of and accessibility to research knowledge. Or, as Wil l insky has succinctly stated (2000), "We [PKP] are exploring ways of using the Internet to make the vast wealth of social science research into a greater public resource" (p. 226). The genesis of the P K P professional development portals began with the belief that the education stakeholder community needed an integrated web-based forum for collating and sharing publicly available knowledge and insights derived from highly diverse sources on the Internet (researchers, university institutes, non-profit organizations, government groups, newspaper editorials, etc.) pertaining to the topic of education and educational 31 technologies. The P K P consortium or "we" wanted to create websites or portals where documents could be found authored by university and think-tank-based researchers, government groups, and non-profit (NGO) groups, side by side with teacher responses; where indexing systems would be integrated and innovative; and, where discussion boards and repositories of documents would be seamlessly connected. We also wanted to capture and publish practitioner knowledge developed through participants' own documented innovations, implementations, and responses to educational technologies in their classrooms. P K P made the complex needs o f teachers our specific focus in a series of website or portal prototypes beginning with PKP-VanSun (March-May 1999) 3 2, the implementation of 3 1 I employ the pronoun "we" as I refer to the design period of time and the group of researchers directly involved in PKP's professional development portals. Once the implementation of EdX was officially concluded by my resignation from the EdX project implementation with NETTL, in February 2001, this signals the beginning of the period of time characterized by the pronoun "I", as I grappled with the results and began to analyze formally the dilemmas of usability and teacher participation in the PKP PD prototypes. 3 2 The date spans listed for each prototype represent a period of time that began with field site consultations, prototype development, implementation or site testing, and a general debriefing by research-designer project members. 79 the PKP-VanSun portal with a cohort of pre-service teachers (October 1999-February 2000), the P K P F (a policy forum hosted by the B C T F website, November 1999-January 2000), the Educators' Exchange or E d X (Apri l 2000-February 2001), and the final conclusion o f the P K P - P D portals which was the transfer of the accumulated built repository to the WebLink database, housed on a school district's First Class server. M y motivation for involvement with the P K P project was to test how Internet prototypes could offer possibilities of linking research and schools to redefine schools as "knowledge refineries" (Brown, 1997): organizations that actively forage knowledge resources as well as produce their own knowledge documents and recommendations for action through synergistic reflection. The two field sites of teacher education chosen for the implementation of these portals in which I participated directly and one field site in which I helped negotiate the transfer of the content (of the E d X repository into WebLink in order to extend its knowledge contribution to more teachers), included the following: one group of pre-service teachers engaged in collectively composing an electronic essay through discussion 3 3 (PKP-VanSun, October 1999-February 2000); a cohort of one hundred teachers in a university-directed, professional diploma program of educational technologies (EdX, Apr i l 2000-February 2001); and, one school district's attempt to organize and filter Internet resources to facilitate the district's and teachers' practices of curriculum design (WebLink, September 2001-present). Prototype 1: PKP-VanSun (March-May 1999) The basic research question we began with as a consortium and wanted to concretely demonstrate through design, was how can this new technology, the Internet, improve the quality of public knowledge. We wanted to understand how best to connect and present See Jane Mitchell's dissertation, Computer Technology in Teacher Education (2001), for another analysis of this event. 80 different forms of knowledge in this new medium so that the prototypes would support people's interests in understanding and utilizing the available knowledge on a given topic. Against the fragmentation and proliferation of information on the Internet, we were seeking to create a countervailing force that linked and conceptually connected web-based resources. We were exploring how to design portals that offered research knowledge, in particular, more accessible and public forms. The core idea was to strengthen notions of public knowledge as a vital aspect of democratic education and action. The first Public Knowledge Project prototype, PKP-VanSun , was a working concrete manifestation of the idea of designing "usable knowledge" (Lagemann, 2002) through Internet-based prototypes, first developed in John's book, Technologies of Knowing: A Proposal for the Human Sciences (1999). In the initial P K P experiment, we collaborated with the Vancouver Sun, the local newspaper to see how print journalism could be extended by providing interactive forums for readers and newsmakers, as well as web-based links to related research, policies, issues, practices, programs, and organizations, six domains of knowledge that were and still are accessible through the Internet. We chose Technology and Education as the central topic around which we could provide support to the newspaper for two reasons: the Vancouver Sun was compiling articles and material on this topic and wanted to experiment with a new communication medium, and, both the Vancouver Sun and P K P believed it to be the educational topic of greatest pressing interest to the public and educators alike. Description of the Prototype P K P worked with the Vancouver Sun to cover five prominent technology and education topics that were coordinated to complement a series of articles appearing in the 81 newspaper, during five days o f consecutive special coverage. The P K P portal was designed to work specifically with this Vancouver Sun series, written by two staff reporters, to help parents, teachers, students and members o f the public assess the contribution and impacts of new computer technologies in education. Wi th each new article, the P K P portal offered a new collection of web-based links to users to enhance and extend the article's coverage of the topic. The five sub-topics of education and technologies, chosen by the newspaper, that P K P mined for online resources included 1) the impact of technology on curriculum and education 2) funding issues 3) gender and technology 4) the internet and 5) the future of libraries. The web-based links or U R L s that we selected to back up each of the sub-topics were chosen to represent six domains of knowledge: research (academic literature); policies (examples from both local and provincial government levels); issues (far-ranging editorial opinions on the topic); practices (practical methods for solving problems and creating innovations suitable for integration into an individual's practice or teaching); projects (projects attempting to reform or problem-solve at a collective level); and, organizations (collectives whose purpose is to lobby and change policy-making related to the topic). P K P , following John's concept of a knowledge domains schemata, considered the linking o f these domains critically important for allowing the public to make connections and to inform themselves more thoroughly on a topic. The idea was that these domains would provide the public with a breadth of information that links theoretical and substantive empirical concerns with practical options and political opinions. The first function o f the PKP-VanSun prototype was to link newspaper articles in electronic form to our portal (Fig. 1). The PKP-VanSun portal was a repository composed of 82 a matrix o f hyperlinks, each annotated with a bibliographic entry including author, source, date, full U R L , and a brief summary. We created the matrix based on two axes: one axis was the topic-of-the-day as defined by the corresponding newspaper article. The second axis was the categories of knowledge from which each topic could be probed. These categories included research, policies, practices, programs, organization, and, discussion forums, each represented as a red button on the screen. Janet Steffenhagen, Vancouver Sun, 24 April 1999. Teachers take on technology Now educators across North America are taking a hard look at past purchases and future needs as they grapple with a crucial question: Have expensive new technologies actually improved student learning? "The jury is still out,' says long-time educator Charles Ungerleider..." Technology's Educational Impact PKT Oveiviews Research Policies Organisations Projects Practices The Overviews include links to... • Research on computer's impact on education • B.C.'s report and action plan for technology. • Scholars debate implementing technology in schools. • Canada's technology showcase Schoolnet. • Changing role of the computer in the classroom. • An Open Forum with Charles Ungerleider, B.C. Deputy Minister of Education. [Forums] (PKP) is run by a team of researchers in the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia, led by John Willinsky. We are exploring ways of using the Internet to make the vast wealth of social science research into a greater public resource. [Cont'd] Ethical Guidelines for PKP Research? In our efforts to learn more about how to build websites that bridge the gap between research and public knowledge, we will be studying your responses to this site. [Cont'd] As an experiment in public knowledge, we need your response to a simple question or two: Does this version of PK P help to make more sense of the issue of technology and education? How can it do its job better? Just click on "How's This Working?" and TELL US. Figure 1. Screen shot of PKP-VanSun Web site home page We were attempting to create strong connections and a seamless integration between the knowledge-heralding medium of the newspaper and the schemata-informed filtering and re-packaging of Internet-published knowledge by our university team. The work for myself and other consortium members became a six-week profound immersion into the Internet for locating the most pertinent, valid, research-based information related to the articles' topics and to reinforce sources, counter-points, or contexts. 83 Discussion Forums The Public Knowledge Project considered the expression of public opinion another important domain of public knowledge in conjunction with access to resources. In the P K P -VanSun portal, we first explored how a conference or discussion web-board would play a role for the users' knowledge-making and knowledge articulation. We offered the users a forum directly connected to each day's main article and topic that included guest panelists who were the quoted experts in the corresponding Vancouver Sun article. The five forums included Day 1) Technology's Educational Impact Conference with the then Deputy Minister of Education; Day 2) Funding Equity Conference with the then Minister of Education; Day 3) Gender and Technology Conference with a professor of educational technologies and gender studies; Day 4) Kids and the Internet Conference with an R C M P officer specializing in Internet safety; and, Day 5) Virtual Libraries Conference with the Chief Librarian o f a library system experimenting with digital media. Each conference began with a welcome note by myself from P K P and introductory comments by the guest panelist. Unl ike a regular radio phone-in show or the editorial page of the newspaper, these forums were designed to permit the user-visitor to choose whom they wished to respond to or to question at any time of the day or night. The forum technology also allowed the user-visitor to compose and edit a message, as many times as they wished in as many words as they desired. User Results and Site Statistics The experiment with the discussion forums revealed some important considerations for the next design edition of P K P . While we were surprised at the small number of actual postings by users-visitors, we were also pleased at the number of readings and visitations. In one case, an anonymously posted message describing the problems of a school questioning 84 the design o f a computer lab, was read 90 times over four weeks, even though this did not result in a single posting commenting on the anonymous note. John and I speculated that there may have been too great a number o f conferences occurring in this short five-day span (even though the conferences remained online for another two weeks). We also realized that it was difficult in the portal design to know where the expert-guests were available. We hypothesized that testing a variety of formats for the conferences could make a difference for the low rates of participation by users. These formats could include conferences pertaining to personal testimonials and exchanges of personal information (i.e., forums for parents with teenagers who have Internet access in the home or educators attempting to upgrade the computers in their school, etc.). Other conference formats could consist of a group of experts discussing one particular topic or guest panelists answering questions from a general anonymous public. The statistics we compiled from the tracking logs considered a range of issues and categories of data. The PKP-VanSun site had 453 new visitors over the five days which the project ran with the newspaper's active coverage, with 749 visits altogether as we left the site actively open to users for a total of four weeks, with an average five minutes spent during each visit to the site. A t its busiest, we had twenty new visitors an hour. The site received 1881 hits in total. A quarter of those visits were from outside of Canada. Among the different overviews of Internet resources we provided, the one on "research" concerning teachers (or the educational impact o f technologies) was the most popular, followed by the domains of "issues" and "policies", again both inside the topic of technology's educational impact on teachers. The discussion forums had approximately fifteen participants a day, with some o f the messages being read some 90 times from when they were posted until four weeks later 85 when the forums actually closed as an active site. Our final summation as a team was that the average length of the visits was encouraging as was the evidence o f reading i f not the active engagement within the discussion forums. CITE Pre-service Site (October 1999-February 2000) C I T E is a customized pre-service program within the general Bachelor of Education program at the University o f British Columbia. The acronym C I T E stands for Community of Inquiry for Teacher Education and the program works to consciously and reflectively create conditions for greater inquiry into the meanings and practices of teacher education by both the pre-service teacher candidates and their surrounding education communities. P K P , as represented by John and myself, began having conversations with Jane Mitchel l , a fellow graduate student working within the C I T E program as an educational technologies instructor, as well as support for faculty attempting to integrate new technologies. Jane and I shared similar research interests including how to support and improve the conditions for intellectual engagement by teachers, both new and experienced, through technological means. A s we at P K P were seriously pondering where we could re-contextualize the P K P -VanSun site as a resource repository to inform educational stakeholders or groups, Jane and a C I T E instructor were pondering questions regarding the ways in which students justify their ideas and the degree to which published research might inform them. A t this time, the C I T E instructor was in the process o f teaching a course entitled, Education Studies: a course concerned with the study o f social relations in educational settings, focused on educational opportunity (or lack of opportunity) in relation to social class, gender, poverty, ethnicity and sexuality. A s this type of course regularly examines controversial social issues, the 86 opportunity for greater access to research and other types of knowledge to inform student discussion was considered propitious. The Education Studies (ES) instructor and Jane wanted to consider whether and how they could use and integrate effectively some of the vast amounts of information and resources available on the web into a pre-service course. For this reason, we developed an alliance between our Public Knowledge Project's need for another human test site and the C I T E instructors' needs for a working, ready-made knowledge portal to inform student discussion. Jane and I discussed how the PKP-VanSun prototype could be used and how to best design an assignment task which would both take advantage of the resources located on the P K P web site as well as take account of the social issues needing attention in the ES course. Jane designed an "ES on-line' task to provide a context for the pre-service students to consider the ways in which access to and uses o f computer technologies in schools intersects with social issues to generate educational opportunities as well as to perpetuate social inequities. 3 4 Students were given the following task: A s a beginning teacher what do you think are some crucial equity issues pertaining to technology and education and what action do you think schools and teachers can take in relation to these issues? The task was intended for students to develop both a critical perspective and a practice of informing themselves through research in order to address educational situations. In this case of collaboration between Education Studies and the PKP-VanSun portal, the task focused on the topic of educational technologies, a topic that is regularly dominated by a techno-determinist characterization. Educational technologies can become the same object of 3 4 This unequal opportunity is often referred to as the "digital divide." See Social Informatics researchers such as Mark Warschauer (2003) for convincing critiques of the myth of a technological solution for social problems, as is often assumed with the problematic term of digital divide. 87 causality for polarized ends of a techno-determinist argument where one end extols the virtues of ICT and the other end condemns its innate vices. Both P K P and C I T E wanted to engage users in the technology itself while they accessed knowledge to help them consider choices of action when encountering educational technologies in their practice in schools. The method for conducting this collaborative investigation was twofold: it centred on a structured on-line discussion set inside the W e b C T discussion tool - a discussion forum enabling participants to engage in a threaded discussion, already a familiar and usable tool to these students - and the task necessitated access and references to the PKP-VanSun portal, an unfamiliar knowledge repository prototype. To broaden the discussion of social issues in educational settings beyond this one group of 36 pre-service candidates -who had been discussing topics with one another for three months in their courses- and beyond this one set of university walls, Jane invited external educators interested in either educational technologies or pre-service teacher education to participate in the experiment. Beneficial to P K P ' s purposes, these guests represented a more public audience for our portal as they were from different institutional settings including a Lower Mainland school district, Australian universities, and other departments o f the Faculty of Education. Beneficial to the C I T E instructors' purposes, these guests had greater experience and perspectives larger than what these pre-service teachers were familiar with. Webquest Assignment and Context of the Study ' The actual ES assignment was designed by Jane Mitchell as a type o f Webquest where the task itself was presented in a web-based format, located on W e b C T and contained direct links to both the PKP-VanSun portal homepage as well as selections from its 3 5 Webquest is a term used to describe a digital lesson or learning object in which students work online conducting research using web-based resources. The intent o f our Webquest was to model a working example that students might emulate in their own teaching practice. repository of resources. Three modes o f inquiry - writing for the articulation of one's knowledge position, consulting established knowledge resources to footnote one's position, and, doing all o f this in a public discussion - were brought to bear upon the question of social (in)equities and educational technologies through a digital medium. The design of the task that appealed most to the P K P research agenda was that in using the portal for a purpose (to accomplish the assignment), the pre-service students would be able to reflexively comment on the usability and usefulness of our PKP-VanSun portal. Each of the seven discussion threads were "public" to only those with access to the WebCT site, but within WebCT, students could read and contribute to other threads i f they so wished. We traded off our P K P mission for public reach in order to seize upon the chance to work in a participatory action setting where students would be continuously consulted with in order to receive their feedback on the assignment, the discussion interactions, and the P K P -VanSun portal's design and function. Students were required to make a minimum of three contributions to the discussions. The first two were written over a two-week period in November and December 1999. The final contribution in January 2000 was made after a three-week practicum experience. The guidelines for contributions were that students address a designated topic from the P K P -VanSun selection; draw upon the web-based resources indexed and accessible through the PKP-VanSun repository to support and provide evidence for their ideas; and to build upon and respond to the ideas of others in the discussion forum, including the guest participant's. M y role in the C I T E research project was multiple: I consulted with Jane on the curricular design of integrating the task with our prototype; I was an external guest moderator in one of the seven discussion forums, working with 6 pre-service teachers on the topic of 89 corporate sponsorship in education and technologies; I taught the PKP-VanSun infrastructure and navigation to the pre-service class in a computer lab; I helped design, administer and analyze the survey; and, I designed the question battery, lead the focus group session, transcribed the tape-recording, and analyzed this data for user response to the portal design and usability. It is worth emphasizing that time was a constant issue at all the P K P test sites, but it was particularly at a premium in this C I T E test site. I had only one computer-lab period in which to introduce the students to the design and navigation o f the PKP-VanSun portal. Other complicating factors included the fact that there was still outstanding ES coursework to be finished during class time, which meant the instructor was not able or wi l l ing to link on-line discussion with face-to-face class time. The WebQuest task was implemented at the end of term, hence, it was situated in a compressed time period when students were stressed with numerous other course assignment requirements. Due to constrained time factors and the discontinuity between the WebQuest and their other pressing work, this innovative online assignment became an add-on in the ES course itself. A s we began the introductory session, Jane and I overheard and observed negative sentiments such as, 'Oh, not another assignment' and 'Why write when we can just turn and talk to one another?' Yet, despite this initial (and valid) grumbling, the majority of the group became engaged with the topic, the technological tools, and the participation o f external guests. There were students who left their time constraints to the side as they contributed responses that went beyond the required expectations. 90 Statistics and Results There were 36 C I T E students and 7 external guests who participated in this WebQuest assignment experiment for a total o f 43 participants. Each participant was required to make three postings for a minimum total of 43 x 3 or 129 postings. After the task and online discussions were concluded, the total number of web resource references was 68 out o f 129 or 53% of the total postings with 43 references or 63% of the referenced postings referring directly to PKP-VanSun 's filtered, indexed Internet resources. 3 6 More importantly, student response data was collected from two sources: a post-assignment survey of the whole class - which Jane and I conducted inside class time following a short de-briefing discussion - and a two-hour focus group session of five o f the participating students, a couple o f weeks after the conclusion of the assignment. Responses in both data collection events were categorized according to the following reoccurring themes: the P K P resources and summaries informed or supported ideas; citations were used because it was a requirement o f the assignment - a coaxed practice rather than one o f spontaneous choice; the P K P articles were interpreted as offering little of merit for citation to support students' personal opinions; or, the P K P portal was interpreted as an expert filtering tool of the Internet with many advantages and contributions. A s can be seen from these conflicting themes, the interpretations were multiple and mixed and there seemed to be no overall consensus as to the merit of the tool when asking students directly for their response after a forced participation event. In the focus group session, the critical barrier for the enrollment of users (to engender sustainable use of the portal) that surfaced repeatedly were navigational The other 37% of referenced postings included URLs, found by students off the web. In the final survey, the same number of CITE students found the self-searched URLs or references as useful and important as the PKP-VanSun U R L resources. 91 design issues for the access to and engagement with the selected P K P resources. These participatory themes and usability issues are further analyzed in Chapter 6 o f this thesis. NETTL the In-service Program (April 2000 to February 2001) A t the same time as the conclusion of the C I T E implementation and with no indication by the C I T E instructors that they would want to repeat this kind of research experiment again, P K P was in the process of completing a concurrent test site, the Public Knowledge Policy Forum ( P K P F ) 3 7 . P K P F was another teacher-audience prototype developed in cooperation with the provincial teacher union (BCTF) and housed on their B C T F website. Whereas PKP-VanSun-CITE and the later E d X prototype focused on digital supports for specific cohorts of teachers' formal education (course/program enhancement), P K P F was a prototype focused on engaging a ' pub l i c ' 3 8 of teachers in ministerial policy formation, revision and implementation. P K P F examined a newly released provincial policy report on educational technologies and was composed of two components, an online repository of educational resources following a knowledge schemata similar to P K P -VanSun's, and, a set of discussion forums moderated by a P K P consortium member. What was striking about the P K P F example and what opened a new problem set to consider for further P K P research was the disconnection between the repository o f resources and the online discussion forums, housed in the very same portal. 3 9 Those users who read more 3 7 See Shula Klinger's PhD dissertation (UBC, 2001) that specifically analyzes the PKPF experiment and her role in developing a virtual community of teachers. 3 8 1 refer to the teacher audience of PKPF as a public because the targeted audience concerned all the members of the B C T F union-a group numbering in the thousands. This group is more amorphous, ambiguous and difficult to capture in comparison to the PKP-VanSun-CITE and EdX user audiences. 3 91 was fortunate to learn of these results from my participation in the PKP consortium and our regular consortium meetings. I did not directly participate in the PKPF study as my work was focused on different portals and on a different purpose, the integration of research portals into teachers' course and classroom practice. 92 documents in the repository rarely participated in the discussions and those users who were regular participants in the discussions, rarely read or referenced the resources from the repository. Reader-users weren't sharing and contributing their knowledge to the discussions and discussant-users weren't accessing resources or referencing their opinions. Given these participation results, it was as though the usability design of the portal did not connect, integrate, or effectively crossover these two components of the portal, discussions and repository. W e reasoned as a consortium that we had increasingly important prototype knowledge 4 0 and valid, well-selected resources 4 1 to offer to teachers but that we needed a more grounded, specific education community -such as a cohort of teachers- with whom to test and develop the next working prototype. 4 2 A t this time, we were also being well funded and endorsed by the Office of Learning Technologies, a federal funding agency that granted us $300,000 over three years for continuing the development of our public knowledge portal infrastructure for the purpose of educating educators. Our proactive project manager, V iv i an Forssman, was keenly working her networks of contacts looking to see who in education might be in search of a knowledge portal. A n d Viv ian found Chris, an experienced, committed teacher educator and instructor o f N E T T L We were realizing the complex interactions and regularly divided solitudes between the repository tool of resources and the discussion forum tools. 4 1 At this point of time (March 2000), we had accumulated approximately 400 indexed and classified web-based documents or resources, all selected by our consortium. 4 2 Fieldnotes, January 2000. PKP consortium meeting (Wall Centre, UBC) . 93 (New Educational Technologies for Teaching and Learning) 4 3 , a recently established professional development certificate program at a Lower Mainland university. Who is NETTL and how is it unique? The N E T T L program is situated in a university department that works to implement a model of in-service teacher education that is in the classroom, in situ, or situated in the daily work of teachers, both physically by offering university courses in the school district buildings and pedagogically in its approach to teacher reflection, self-study and action research, following the teacher-action-research model o f Lawrence Stenhouse (1983, 1985). 4 4 The primary text in this approach to teacher education is the teacher's own local practice in their classroom rather than academic articles concerned with practices of a generalized group of unknown teachers. In their daily local practice, teachers are constantly making decisions about ethics and politics in relation to their actions and their effects on students' learning. A cluster o f such decisions surround issues of how teachers choose to make their work "public" (Stenhouse, 1983, p. 185), public to their students, to the parent community, to their own teacher-colleagues, and to themselves. Professional development programs such as those offered through this department were popular and successful in "working with partner organizations [school districts] to design innovative in-service programs which engage educators in focused sustained reflective inquiry into classroom practice" ( N E T T L program guide). These professional development programs did not qualify for graduate accreditation because they were not academic or rigorous enough in their N E T T L is the invented acronym for a two-year university-directed diploma program. The acronym stands for New Educational Technologies for Teaching and Learning and captures the purpose of the existing program. 4 4 In one of my initial meetings with Chris (prior to the mentor workshops), she and a fellow department colleague emphasized a quote by Lawrence Stenhouse printed on their program pamphlet as representative of their philosophy and mission to teacher education (Fieldnotes, April 2000). 94 bibliographic texts, resources, and required assignments to be translated into graduate credits. But these programs were constantly tested for user-ship as the department ran on a budget relying upon student fees with no supplemental or subsidiary monies from the university. N E T T L was one of the more recent extension programs developed in this unique professional development department. Not only was N E T T L innovative in its teacher educational approach but it was also very popular due to its pressing topic and timely content of educational technologies for teaching. N E T T L cohorts were popping up in many school districts and the in-service professional development department needed to hire many o f its newly certified teachers to return to mentor in the very program they had just completed. When I began work with Chris in one school district with a cohort of new mentors, the N E T T L program had only arrived at its second year anniversary mark and was an obvious success with registered school district partners doubling in number each year. Specifics of the NETTL Program N E T T L is a program built upon mentor leadership and guidance,, and organized through mentor groups. Mentors are teacher-leaders of educational technologies in a school district, hired to supervise and counsel a group of teacher-mentees (usually numbering five to seven in-service teachers) through the N E T T L program and new technologies' integration for the classroom. The N E T T L program combines two face-to-face summer institutes (each institute is two-weeks long) with other distributed learning events extending over two school years. A l l learning events and activities are localized in the school district. Teachers are not required to set foot on the grounds o f the university, instead the trajectory is inversed with the university instructor traveling to school district locations. This travel is symbolic of the Professional Development department's commitment to collaborative partnerships with 9 5 school districts and developing local capacity with district teachers. It is also symbolic of the department's commitment to participatory teacher education beginning with local empowerment of the teacher's own classroom-based knowledge. The summer institutes are organized, scheduled, fleshed out and implemented by the mentors in consultation with the program instructor (in this case, Chris). Each summer institute has a designated number of core pre-designed learning activities that must be completed during the institute. 4 5 During the school year, teachers choose types of learning activities to focus on their own professional learning or their classroom teaching practice. In N E T T L , there are no grades but there are credits. Credits are earned by satisfactorily completing an evolving set of self-designed, mentor-approved learning activities. The teacher-mentee decides, in consultation with their mentor, how many credits they plan to earn in each term, but it is ultimately the mentor who determines and approves for the university i f these credits were indeed warranted by the teacher. Wi th this flexible program, centred on the teacher's participation, choosing their own "learning path", teachers could design their coursework to accommodate their full-time teaching responsibilities. This was of great appeal to many o f the teacher-mentees who were overwhelmingly female in number, of a median age in the late thirties, many with children at home; The N E T T L program could not function as a primarily distance, dispersed form of education i f it were not for the mentors. Their role is central in guiding, supporting and translating for their mentees the expectations and 'standards' o f the N E T T L program. N E T T L rationalizes that it is a program for educational professionals who are already experienced learners; therefore, learning activities are not graded. To gain a pass, teachers are 4 5 This is a noteworthy distinction as most of the N E T T L program is built upon an open-ended, grade-less, teacher-defined learning path with next to no compulsory tasks, readings or attendance (other than the Summer Institutes attendance). 96 required to submit a portfolio to their mentor each semester demonstrating what they have learned and how they determine they have "grown in capacity". Mentors and the teacher-mentees are instructed that the evaluation criteria for the completion of credits needs to "stress reflection, self evaluation and ongoing learning" (2005, N E T T L program guide). Choice of NETTL as a Site of Implementation N E T T L was a program focused on teachers learning how to integrate new technologies into their teaching and curriculum design as well as engage with new tools for their own technological learning. It was also a program designed as a dispersed, distance method o f teacher education relying on mentors to make it personalized, face-to-face, and supportive for teachers who may have never turned on a computer or tried anything more challenging than email as an application. Mentors were also critical implementers o f the program as they guided the teacher-mentees to understand the workings of this unique university program that was designed as a self-paced, self-directed, and self-reflective system of learning. Chris, as representative o f N E T T L as a program, wanted to locate user-friendly tools for greater support and community building by teachers with other teachers. She was keenly interested in finding a tool that would inspire and facilitate a community of practice for N E T T L teachers and mentors and she was hoping that P K P could offer that prototype. Chris was also attracted to the idea o f a tool as a demonstration to the university that N E T T L could consider a more "academic" research-based approach as an option for teacher-learners and as a future means to validate or qualify the program as a graduate course. 4 6 But the program and the instructor seemed conflicted over the interplay or accommodation o f three demanding strands, each vying for emphasis: how much of an emphasis on technology acquisition for a 4 6 Fieldnotes, June 2000. 97 skills-based program (the preference of the majority of these mentors) or how much o f an emphasis on teacher's own classroom-situated, personal-practical knowledge of technology integration (Chris's preference) or, finally, how much of an emphasis ( if any) on public educational research as a central knowledge resource for teachers (PKP ' s preference)? EdX the Prototype P K P ' s work with N E T T L began in January 2000 with meetings between Chris and Viv ian Forssman, beginning the collaborative negotiations of partnership. The first stage of partnership was a consideration of P K P evaluating the N E T T L website for usability recommendations but this initial purpose quickly evolved into a joint collaboration to co-develop a portal o f resources and communication tools to build a virtual community of support for the N E T T L students. Wi th a wi l l ing instructor intent on attempting to see this experiment through for her program's teacher education purposes, we now needed a workable, dynamic prototype and software developer. After two prototype development projects, PKP-VanSun and P K P F , we the research-designer team of P K P (particularly myself and Vivian) realized that the work needed to both technically design a portal and coordinate the research project would be difficult to manage given our limited technical capacity in a university setting (no full-time technical staff, server space, or built platforms). We decided to consult with software development companies to determine i f we could build upon their technical expertise and established prototype platforms to further our research and implementation goals. On Apr i l 6 t h 2000, with Chris present, we (the P K P consortium) held a demonstration competition on the U B C campus for two software developers, one from Halifax and the other from Vancouver. After the two show-and-tell demonstrations, it was Chris who was the most 98 decisive and vocal as to her preference. She quickly determined which portal infrastructure would offer the greatest community building capacity for her N E T T L participants. Thus, it was decided that our project would work with John Cousineau of Innovative Information Inc (III), a Vancouver-based, proprietary software development company. The Educators' Exchange or E d X developed by III was a tool modified and tailored for a specific cohort community, a N E T T L cohort of 100 elementary and secondary teachers in a Lower Mainland school district. E d X was built upon an existing platform technology, a knowledge management prototype, called Info Exchange, already tested by Cousineau in corporate settings. In this project collaboration of an in-service professional development program ( N E T T L ) , a university research consortium coordinating the participatory design and implementation (PKP) , and, a corporate model of knowledge management portals (InfoExchange), we had the makings of a complex network of shifting alliances and competitive stances o f enrollment or resistance by these diverse stakeholder actors (and the "masses of actors" they would then influence). 4 7 John has articulated the core vision for the larger P K P infrastructural purpose in books and articles. In his Harvard Educational Review article (2002), "Education and Democracy: The Missing Link M a y be Ours," an article that was penned as the E d X project was nearing its close, John describes the technical features and infrastructural characteristics that prototypes need to present to fulfill the P K P vision: (1) . . . research sites that provide open access to complete studies with support for less-experienced research readers, those with disabilities, and those without the latest technology; (2) comprehensive, open-access, and automated indexing and archiving systems for online research, which allow readers to locate refereed research, dissertations, and other resources, and conduct fine-grained searches by, for example, research topic, sample characteristics, methodology, and works cited; (3) research 4 7 The use of the terms network, enrollment, actors and masses of actors all refer to Bruno Latour's work. See Chapter 3 for definitions and uses of these conceptual terms. 99 support tools that enable readers to readily move from a given research study to its dataset and research instruments, to related studies, reviews, overviews, and glossaries, and to relevant policy, program, and media materials in other databases; (4) open forums for researchers, professionals, policymakers and public to discuss educational issues, methods, and research agendas within the context of this body o f research. (2002, p. 370) The E d X prototype qualified for John's infrastructural prescription. E d X succeeded in fulfilling John's mandate because it could be described as a web-based portal or a type of digital library where members could both access and contribute digitized resources collected from a diverse range of sources on the Internet (university research, provincial policies, teacher-created lesson plans, federal programs, international projects) as well as offer their own authored documents. E d X offered a sophisticated site search engine, classification system, rating and review features for documents, and a search archiving mechanism entitled, My Agents. A n d E d X allowed users to create open forums for discussion with supporting documents retrieved from the portal's repository. Central to the E d X prototype design were mechanisms for accessing information and connecting for collaboration on almost every page of the system. The technologies involved in the E d X portal included those to support document creation, retrieval, foraging, transfer, dissemination, manipulation, and management of information. In the screen shot (Figure 2) of the Information channel (or a drop-down menu), readers can observe the categories of information that were modified as the E d X prototype was tested and feedback received from the teacher-users. We began with eight main categories of information ( M y Interests, Dai ly News, Articles & Reports, Examples of Innovation, Tips & Tricks, etc.) that were a combination of categories imported from I l l ' s corporate implementation site (e.g., Dai ly News) and from the last iteration of the P K P repository (e.g., Articles & Reports). The most dramatic modification in this channel was the 100 expansion of the " M y Interests" selection of information into six sub-categories of subjects and school organizations most familiar to teachers. Figure 2. Screen shot of E d X Web site home page with Information menu. E d X also did not meet key criterion for an effective public knowledge system as stipulated by John in 2002. First and foremost, E d X was not a public, open-access system. E d X required a registration and password, the means by which the III software developers could monitor and determine the identities of users as members of the selected and funded or paying community (Figure 3) and ensure the protection of their software code and the boundaries of the user group. 101 t > ft \ 0 " ' M a Refresh •••• .-rtom*• •' AutoFill Print Mail 3j? http ://wwv2jnnovativeinfo.com/educationexchanq*/login/login.cfm y) Live Home Page © Apple Computer @ ^PP 1* Support (£j Apple Store (^}MSN @ Office for Macintosh @ Internet Explorer Figure 3. EdX Registration or Log-on page With EdX, PKP exchanged our commitment to public open-access prototype infrastructure for an investment in a privatized community intranet. From Chris' emphasis on this technology as a tool for a NETTL community to the mentors' repeated concerns for privacy, I believed we had to create modes of comfort and define an area of trustworthiness through a closed private system. By giving structure and definition to this digital community, rather than opening it to an ambiguous undefined public user group, we intended to persuade the NETTL practitioner-participants to use this external technology (outside the NETTL program and website as well as outside the teachers' school district's own set of technologies) and trust in its abilities to foster an epistemic community or a community of practice. This was a difficult experimental position for PKP: we knew we had to demonstrate the effectiveness, comfort and trustworthiness of the portal before our stakeholders (the school district or NETTL mentors and teachers) would consider participating, maintaining, or paying for the system, yet we knew we represented both an external institutional actor in 102 teacher research and education, a university-based research project, as well as the agent of a sophisticated unfamiliar technology that could evoke technological discomfort. In John's pivotal Harvard Education Review article (2002), he does not state which specific prototype would technically qualify for his purpose (i.e., digital library, portal, M U D , etc.), as there is no one artifact that matches a social purpose but John is clear in his argument for public open-access systems. While E d X was not open-access, it was a portal prototype like the other P K P artifacts. I refer to the P K P artifacts as portals because they were all prototypes concerned with filtering resources from the Internet, of giving a defined gateway into a repository of community-selected information. In a rather technicist or tech-talk fashion, this definition of portal has been offered by the portal software industry: Although it may be impossible to settle on one definition o f portal from a mission or philosophical perspective, it is pretty clear what a portal is from a technological perspective," said Jenny Rickard, vice president for product management at PeopleSoft Learning Solutions. "With a single log on, portal technology provides the capability to aggregate content from multiple sources, .. .integrate workflow from multiple sources, access role-based analytical information and, i f desired, facilitate commercial transactions. (Sistek-Chandler, 2000) The definition of "portal" is still transitory and difficult to pin-down and define in the every-changing continuum of digital innovation but the portals of the Public Knowledge Project can be best described as containing the following elements. There is a collection or database of content that is a structured, indexed aggregation of documents. The P K P portals, therefore, are not the Internet writ large but a distinct filtered selection of Internet resources. The portal's material includes full-form online resources encompassing a range of knowledge types, media, and intended uses, such as articles, reports, organization statements, discussion archives, email messages, images, and the like. The P K P portal design was concerned with 103 linking audience, user group or community, with attributes of the repository content in a participatory, needs-oriented manner. N o matter what combination of technologies and content is held to constitute a portal, however, it is important to give full consideration to the human services and social interactions intertwined with the system's design and infrastructure. It is often this complex social element that has been overlooked in a race to develop the ideal technical system. Richard Lucier (1995), the once director of Library Services for the entire University of California system, characterizes these portal tools as evolving social-technical institutions where "information space" complements "information place." The E d X portal was consciously designed to include spaces and places for linking users through the People channel or drop-down menu (Figure 4). Teacher-users could read of other teachers' common interests in the Profiles selection and connect with users through face recognition in the photo gallery with "the E d X Gang" (Figure 4). It was difficult for the N E T T L teacher-mentees to make connections to other teachers outside of their small mentor groups, particularly when the Summer Institute had concluded and teachers were working alone in their classrooms. To inform and extend community involvement, teacher-users could be introduced to each other through their document contributions ( "My Agents" feature) or through their teacher profiles and project interests ("Key Colleagues"), all recorded, digitized, and indexed on E d X . 104 New rt|i|>ii..i.h.-, l » I ll. I<>n.11 | (Nftl I | lliv Research Network Evnet: Network for the Evaluation of Education ami h Training Technologies ) mentoring , Paradigm H * i f i »> (-, , * ^ I p h y s . e d . ' f w m S S m ^ ' " " s b q u e s t s Figure 4. Linking Users through the People Menu Functions In the project channel or drop-down menu (Figure 5), spaces were available where members could set up and participate in web boards for asynchronous discussion among a number of them, and where they could also share and store mutually developed documents such as field study proposals or reviews o f work for their term portfolio. These asynchronous discussions (Figure 5) had to be initiated through a user who would be assumed the moderator or coordinator o f the discussion. These discussions were open and available through the Projects menu but specific users were personally invited by the moderator to participate by system-generated email. 105 |search] New Approaches to Litelona Learning tNALp The Research Network J F i n e a r t s 1 ' ^ ' t c < " , ! f ' - * 1 ' ' * ' ^ - v n i i i c i j gender • internet fcvnet: Network for the Evaluation of Echication .nul knowledge Trainmn Technologies mentoring i . ti t» T U 'tit ifJ ii w »** J t. <r< | quests ..-i "i-,vri^ „ . , „ , „ • ,,,r;;;,.' -.-...v.r..-..r..,.v.,.;...- L Irtish rnn**H Figure 5. E d X Projects Menu Listing Ongoing Discussions (e.g., "Features . . . " , "Online Collaborative . . . " , "The purpose of sharing ...") Tracking Statistics and General Usability Results of EdX There were 11 mentors, 89 in-service teachers, one university instructor, one school district technology coordinator, one research assistant (myself) and two external P K P guests (Vivian and John) who participated in this E d X experiment for a total o f 105 participants. The only required posting or use of E d X in the N E T T L program was in the first Summer Institute: I conducted workshops for every mentor group to ensure that every teacher-participant posted their autobiographical teacher-learner profiles and the school district technology coordinator took a digital photo to accompany the autobiographical profile. This work of profiling and photography was spearheaded and emphasized by Chris in order to set her idea o f community-building tools in place. At the culmination of the first Summer Institute's two weeks, the median number of logins (passing through the password During the morning agenda meetings in the Institute's (highschool) Theatre, Chris would announce the items of greatest importance as well as list all the workshops and schedule for the day. At this large group meeting, Chris emphasized to the N E T T L teacher-mentees the requirement to participate in the E d X workshops for the goal of posting their biography-profiles. (Fieldnotes, Aug. 19) 106 registration page) by the N E T T L teachers was four times and the median number o f logins by the 11 mentors at the height of the Institute was 12 times each. A t the height and the culmination of the Summer Institute I, the number of logins by the N E T T L instructor-leader, Chris, remained zero. Wi th Chris ' E d X absence and her reluctance to assign any requirements with E d X (other than the first workshop to post bio-profiles and submit photos), it quickly became apparent to me, as the implementer or usability-promoter, that the eleven mentors would be the crucial allies for any usability success with the teacher-mentees. It is important to note that after the first Summer Institute, this enrollment of the mentors became increasingly difficult as the mentors' logins declined dramatically. In the month following the conclusion of the first Institute (30 day period ending September 23), only five mentors logged onto E d X with the median number of logins for these five individuals reaching five times or approximately once a week. The six other mentors did not even login once to E d X in the 30 day period immediately following the Summer Institute, a critical period for continuity of participation in communication and digital community with the other mentors or for modeling to their own teacher-mentees. After the eight-month research period of my active involvement in E d X and N E T T L , the total number of repository resources (each having to be entered and catalogued by a user) was 634 with the vast majority having been entered by P K P , including 123 resources directly entered by myself during the eight-month period. The repository retained its research base emphasis with 256 resources catalogued under "Articles & Reports" while the "Learning Resources" or classroom practices section 4 9 grew to a total o f 126. In terms of the portal These are websites classified according to their resources being directly classroom applied or curriculum specific such as lesson plans, evaluation rubrics, etc. for math/science education, arts-based curriculum, etc. 107 becoming a participatory tool with contributions from its users, at the conclusion of the active EdX project, one mentor had contributed six documents to the repository (Information channel) and two other mentors had contributed two documents each. The greatest number of discussion projects at the height of EdX's use during the first Summer Institute was a total of five projects with two of the five projects moderated and initiated by two mentors. The remainder of the discussions was initiated by PKP members (John, Vivian and myself each opened a discussion). Not surprisingly, the total number of web resource references by the mentors and teacher-mentees was very low with only four resource references listed to begin one discussion and only myself posting references or foot-noting my ideas inside discussion postings. I worked with III to make certain that a hyperlink feature was available and working to easily cite and view resources catalogued from the EdX repository inside the discussion postings. But, the overall problem of both this specific feature and all of the tailored and added features in EdX was the under-utilization of this PKP portal as evidenced by its statistical use results.50 As I attempted to increase the usability of EdX in terms of its available features, its interface design, and functionality and as I attempted to increase EdX's sociability51 in terms of contacting and working to lobby individual mentors and teacher-mentees to participate in the portal, I was simultaneously attempting to enroll and coordinate the two strongest actor groups, the mentors and the EdX tool. The question of what measure indicates a successful level of participation by users in these portal prototypes is an ongoing question for this project and other digital community portals on the Internet. For example, Selwyn (2000) in an analysis of 24 months of postings by teachers in an electronic discussion (as compared to the 6 months with EdX), he found that 33% of all posted messages came from only 26 of its 900 members or only 2% of the user group. 5 1 Sociability is a term coined by Preece (2000) to describe the conditions needed to encourage communities and foster human connections digitally. 108 Part of the analysis o f the E d X project is based upon metrics that tracked participation, engagement with knowledge, and indicators of sociability o f community building. Measures included frequency of use or logins, levels of participation through contribution of knowledge resources, citation of documents in the discussions, as well as levels of satisfaction or professional learning, captured by a series of email surveys, observations of teachers' practices, teacher-produced documents, and in-depth interviews during the different phases of implementation. Over 1500 email messages have been collected over a period of two years from a total of 27 key participants, representing eight relevant social groups in the network (teacher-mentees, teacher-mentors, course instructors, district technology coordinator, university scholar principle investigator, graduate student researchers, project managers, software developers). These messages have been sorted according to themes of concern for the participants: they include design choices or features, technical stumps, social dilemmas, feedback on the available resources, questions and critiques of the technical system. But these themes of concern were additionally interpreted for the participants' perceptions of the portal as a contributive or disruptive tool inside technical, social, professional and research realms. The other part of the E d X analysis is based on my participation-observation of the mentors' work and the N E T T L program during the summer institutes and social gatherings. M y work as the on-site researcher allowed me to perform various roles. I led workshops at the Summer Institute to directly in-service the E d X tool with the 100 teacher-participants (this number includes the mentors). A t the last minute, one mentor was unable to assume her institute duties due to a death of a parent. Chris asked me to directly take on this absent mentor's responsibilities, so I became an acting mentor to six female elementary teachers 109 during the first two-week summer institute. During the subsequent year, I attended other mentor group meetings that consisted of one mentor in particular, Deborah, and her six mentee-teachers. A n d I attended various demonstrations of learning by Deborah's teacher-students at different points during the program, including their final demonstrations of learning in the summer of 2002. In the E d X data collection, I conducted both face-to-face and email interviews for a total of 10 in-depth interviews. I also attended approximately twelve meetings during the key two-year implementation period o f E d X within this one school district. These meetings consisted of two main types: the first was the administrative design-research team of the project (software designer, course instructor, research assistant (myself), project manager and principle investigator). The second type consisted of myself, the university instructor, and, the eleven mentors and two mentor groups. In the collection of data, I have used a variety of sources. These sources include field notes; meeting notes taken by rotating recorders at the mentors' meetings; meeting agenda items; email listserv notices about the planning and logistics of the institutes; debriefing email messages from meetings and the institutes; reference emails where I recommend internet resources that specifically address participants' projects and interests; and, many technical issues messages with the software developers. The collection of all these data has been approved by the human subject ethical review board of the University of British Columbia. Methodological Approaches in PKP- VanSun and EdX I conducted the overall P K P study using an interpretive qualitative approach based on in situ observations (teacher-students participating in the course and their mentor group 110 sessions), interviews, analysis o f texts (field studies, postings), mentors in meetings discussing the program and discussing the role of technical features and design in these prototypes. The research sites or participating groups were chosen in a complicated fashion of access through course instructors. These research sites were chosen based on formal meetings and informal discussions/negotiations with the course instructors/administrators as to what our proposed technology (portals) could offer (hypothetically) their teacher-learners and how we could make the research process more inclusive and participatory for the teacher-participants. We chose these two teacher education situations based on their distinct teacher education continuum populations: new teachers familiar with technologies in their personal lives but not in their teaching and experienced teachers familiar with teaching but not with technologies integrated into their personal lives (in most cases) nor into their classroom practice. I then participated in the two research sites in an intense participatory fashion o f modeling and teaching these teachers with the P K P tools. In the C I T E course, I participated daily (through WebCT) over a two month period as well as taught the tool's infrastructure in a computer lab setting and helped review the project formally on two occasions (in the face-to-face class and in the focus group). In the N E T T L - E d X site, I participated on approximately a weekly basis over an eight-month period in the year 2000/2001. A n d I participated daily during Summer Institute I, I observed three full days during Summer Institute II, and I attended the final presentations in Summer Institute III. During these visits, I interviewed mentor, teacher-mentees, the course instructor, and the district technology coordinator on their thoughts regarding the progress o f the course and the integration of technology in education. In the majority of cases, I tape recorded and I l l transcribed the interviews. In situations where spontaneous discussions arose that were not possible to record, I took notes during or immediately after the discussions. From my discussions with these actors, I sought the names of mentees who were gaining a reputation for outstanding use of information technology in their course work. I would then speak with these teachers about their experience of technology and the challenges/promises of integrating technology into the curriculum and their classrooms. During these observations, I interacted with mentees and spoke to them about their experiences. I sometimes helped teacher-mentees while they were working at computers. I took notes during my observations, or, i f I was busy helping the mentees, immediately thereafter. Finally, I was provided course work assignments by the course instructor and the mentees, and I also had access to lessons, units, and Wor ld Wide Web sites produced by the mentee-teachers and their classrooms. Connections of Purpose Across the PKP Experiments In each P K P portal prototype, we located an organization/institution and teacher education context in which the portal collections, services, and social interactions were embedded. We understood the institutional or organizational partnerships as critical in increasing users' comfort, trust, and loyalty in our portals. In a manner similar to a bank's A T M instilling trust in its customers (to put money into a machine), due to its association with the bank's brand name, we at P K P worked to embed our portals into the social infrastructure of two university education programs and a major daily newspaper to validate our purposes in changing teacher education through digital means. Wi th the P K P portals, we were attempting to demonstrate the value o f a certain kind of social movement or reform in teacher education. Through prototype example and model knowledge practices, we wanted to demonstrate to our user organizations (major newspaper, 112 C I T E pre-service teacher program, and the N E T T L in-service university diploma) that taking control and managing resources through digital tools would speak more directly to their interests and professional concerns. P K P portals began from the premise that the great democratic promise of the Internet is that knowledge is a public resource and should be made more accessible to education stakeholders through the Internet (Willinsky, 2002). But, concurrently, the great demise o f the Internet is that no one can easily find what they really need (Eco, 1996). The cascades o f information or knowledge on the Internet is too much, too overwhelming and too anarchic to access. The promise of a portal is that this supple information place would organize resources in a manner that practitioner-users could locate knowledge to answer needs stemming from practice or interest or institutional affiliation. The vision of the P K P portals was that educators have the right to know what research and resources exist to inform the field of education and that educators have the right to voice and determine what they need to know. Practitioners can select from this research repository what makes the greatest connection to their local classroom situation and what achieves the greatest meaning and usability within the epistemic community that assembles through the portal. 113 C H A P T E R 5 Methodologies for Portals: Departing from Usability, Problematizing Participatory Act ion Research, and Reconciling Infrastructure Introduction Efforts to understand and make greater sense of portals, as artifacts embedded in complex social systems, can easily lead to the use of multiple methods. This study of teacher professional development portals illustrates the necessity and strengths of methodological pluralism, concerning the work of one research consortium (PKP) , across two teacher education research sites (CITE and N E T T L ) . Three methodologies - usability, Participatory Act ion Research (PAR) , and a socio-technical ethnography of infrastructure - were needed to capture the different evolving goals of P K P , the different circumstances of implementation, and the different responses and receptions of the portals by the intended users. Usability (Norman, 2004; Neilsen, 2000; Vicente, 2004) is a methodology focused on humanizing the design of artifacts or human-computer interaction. Participatory action research (Schuler & Namioka, 1993; Schuler, 1996; Reardon, 1998; Bishop et. a l , 2003) is a field of action research methodology focused on the direct participation and involvement of the research participants or the technology's human-user group. A n d finally a socio-technical methodology (Latour, 1996; Bijker, 1997; Bowker & Star, 2002; Levy, 2003) works to recognize the human and the technical as mutually intertwined and effected with neither one taking precedence or constituting the power or strength of the system/network. These multiple methods emerged as an evolutionary or historical developmental process with each version of the teacher education portal needing to improve upon the last implementation situation. In this chapter, I w i l l address each one in chronological order and portal evolution. 114 These three qualitative methodologies rely upon naturalistic, interpretive methods -including interviews, ethnographic fieldwork, and participant observation- useful techniques for attempting to understand the P K P portals' complex relationships at the individual, organizational/institutional and societal levels of analysis. Investigating teacher-practitioners' understanding of their work, their teacher education needs, their practices with technologies and educational research, and their interpretations of their circumstances in conjunction with the use of the portal required flexibility, depth of inquiry and long-term engagement with the field sites. For a naturalistic qualitative researcher such as myself in this study, a central focus of the research concerns the problems of grounding and interpretation. Researcher bias or the researcher's stance is a given that must be managed and exposed, not eliminated or neutralized (not that such a process would be achievable), because each person's perspective is understood to underlie the interpretations of events. Interpretation is a problematic issue given that my observations and interpretations of the events may not match those of the other actors. A n d generalization is particularly problematic when attempting to observe and interpret non-human, technological actors such as portals. In this study, generalization is grounded by the statistical bottom line or overall conclusion, by the meager rate of use and lack of commitment to the portal's continuity by its participatory user groups. A s there were evolving phases of portal development and implementation in this study so there necessitated phases of methodology. The study can be characterized by three distinct developmental phases (1. PKP-VanSun and CITE , 2. E d X , and, 3. the closure of the P D portals), corresponding to these phases are three different methodologies (1. usability; 2. participatory action research; and, 3. socio-technical method/analysis). The methodologies 115 were part of an ecological process whereby questions or problems emerged, approaches fit as appropriate as P K P built, tested, implemented, and observed the P D prototypes with different practitioner groups (Nardi & O'Day, 1999). The nature of the issues under investigation, the epistemological complexity and interactions of usable knowledge (teacher knowledge and research knowledge), the multifaceted complexity of networks connected to technological prototypes, the kind of usability, participatory, socio-technical data I hoped to collect, the level and degree of observation and description I hoped to convey, and the understandings and conceptualizations I hoped to construct, all imparted the need to use qualitative or ethnographic methods for analysis rather than quantitative. In this chapter, I describe the methodologies selected and employed for the phases of portal development that changed to meet the evolving project goals and support the ongoing choices the project and myself wanted to make. A n d I recognize how my stances as researcher, both connected to the research consortium and as a distinct, separate researcher, affected the development of goals, the choices of methodologies, my actions as site implementer, and my turn in the final phase to a socio-technical analysis. In the process of studying and working with teacher professional development portals, I make the case for departing from a primarily usability focus, problematizing participatory action research (PAR) between university-based researchers and practitioners, and I attempt to reconcile the role of infrastructure in explaining the regularly modest social uptake of technological prototypes in professional development. 116 Multiple Phases, Multiple Methodologies In the first phase of project development of this one branch o f P K P research 5 2, we began with materializing or building portals concerned with topics of educational technologies and K-12 schools. The principal methodologicalconcern of this one P K P project was to help further the design of the portal for practitioner-users. Dominant matters or themes were the generation of usable knowledge through usability means in the portal design and implementation. The methods for determining the effectiveness of digital usable knowledge was gleaned from use and use was first indicated and observed through access to documents or the number of hits by users (Were users accessing the site? Were they hitting and presumably reading a range of content or any particular domain of documents? Were users responding to the content/knowledge? Were they discussing the collected, filtered resources inside the portal?) A s we built PKP-VanSun , I and other graduate students were immersed in the chaos and proliferation of information on the Internet first-hand. I collected participant-observations of the problems of Internet filtering, re-packaging and indexing/ cataloguing these available web-based research resources. A s I became intrigued by the democratic promise of open-access on the Internet while working on content for the portal, I worked to remain reflexively and critically open to what our project could achieve socially with the users. From the outset, I began a continuous, seesaw cycle of socio-technical evaluation between having the effective technical means and portal features, on the one hand, to impact social change and professional development, on the other. In the second methodological phase, with a portal already constructed (PKP-VanSun), we began to reconsider and stress the social response and participation o f the user-5 2 Other PKP projects were concerned with enlarging the democratic sphere of participation on the Internet by discussing government policy issues, the impact of electronic publishing on journalism, and the impact of open access publishing of academic journals. (See Willinsky, 2002) 117 participants after the experience of the large, anonymous newspaper reader public. The C I T E research site was an experiment in social implementation of the portal with a specific audience, a specific educational group and with whom we had direct contact and more control. Designing a specific purpose or test for the tool inside pre-service teacher education, user testing through a mandatory task, and focus group interviewing, were methods to ascertain how the social could connect to the built portal. The C I T E experiment was the preamble experiment for a greater launch into recognizing and calling attention to the social in the P K P P D portals. In the Office of Learning Technologies (OLT) grant submission and subsequent research funding applications, the explicit methodology of the consortium, through a written commitment, was one to iterative participatory action research (PAR) . P A R was also a methodology, in my opinion, that best suited a P D portal project, given what it needed to impart and purport. Endorsed by the consortium, it was a commitment to P A R that I focused upon in the N E T T L site and the E d X portal development. P A R is an ethnographic methodology that emphasizes the researcher's responsibility to understand the participants and their needs, to understand who the mentors were, what their mentor work entailed, and how we at P K P could work to match their needs (social, technical, mentoring, information, etc.) with the portal prototype. We/I no longer expected the teacher-participants to just use the ready-made prototype. Instead, this phase of implementation and methodological work was to make the fit, the match, the bridge between the social perspective o f the key actors and the responsive design of the portal. In the final phase o f the study, after E d X had stopped and the P K P consortium had moved onto other projects, "we" became "I ," as I attempted to solve the mystery o f how E d X 118 received little participation and no demonstrable ownership by the mentors. In this next phase o f reflexive examination, I needed to analyze why the portal didn't work to convince these teacher-mentors to participate in the participatory action research o f the portal. A socio-technical methodology became critically important and revelatory for "I"/me, as I could only understand the lack of social participation by attempting to reconcile the infrastructural or the technical. In the post-implementation stage of the P K P professional development portals, upon reviewing the unsatisfactory results of use, the Latourian socio-technical toolkit of terms (see Chapter 3) became the means for sorting, re-observing, and re-analyzing the collected data over the different phases of the P K P P D projects. My Researcher Stances There were two stances operating simultaneously throughout the study with each alternating for focus or foreground in each portal development: building or constructing portals in order to elicit social change and the constant review of the portal to determine their social impact. In the first phase of PKP-VanSun, I was participating in a group project to build it but I was constantly wondering whether the intended users would come (though I very much wanted them to). While I was participating in the building, I was evaluating and collecting observations on how we/I worked, centred on the construction of this tool. In the second phase when pursuing participatory action research and design, I was alternating between how I could persuade or entice the social participation of the teachers into the portal: I was transfixed upon what I could do to move the portal's design forward with the participatory involvement of its teacher-users. However, to encourage this social involvement, I needed to try and understand these teacher-users, the work of the teacher-mentors, and the apprenticeship of the mentors into mentoring and the N E T T L approach to 119 teacher education. In this ethnographic stance, I observed, interviewed, and participated directly in the work of mentoring, the community of mentors, and the group processes of negotiating the N E T T L philosophy into their own practices as teacher educators. In this stance as a participant-observer, I played two parts. In the first part as a participant, I was in the position to experience the direct work of mentoring in-service teachers in educational technologies and discussing with other mentors what that work entailed and how it could be best assisted by knowledge portals such as E d X . In this case, I was an observer from the field focusing on issues of implementation. These issues were controversial and complex as the mentors themselves struggled to describe and define their interpretation of their role as teacher-educators, according to the N E T T L expectations and their lived experiences as mentors. In the second part as observer, I reported back to the design/implementation team in terms of the technical design and the response of the users in the field. I communicated to the P K P team how we might consider employing principles o f usability for modifications to the user interface to attempt to bring users to the prototype to actually test its knowledge capabilities. In these historical instances, I was acting for the common cause of W E , for the active social life of the E d X prototype, for the reform o f one small instance of teacher education. Every technical change or modification with the portals was an attempt to both increase the participation of the users by alluring them into a well-modified, tailored, usable and sociable portal as well as demonstrate its abilities to enhance teacher education practices (connections to teacher-researchers, university-based researchers, members of their mentoring groups; access to resources to broaden or focus the discussions and to examine multiple models of teaching with technologies). 120 In the final phase, when E d X stopped or concluded with little participation by its intended users, particularly by the mentors, I had to turn my attention back to the portals and their infrastructure. A s the majority of mentors were blaming the tool for their lack of participation (for example, the infrastructural requirement that they use Internet Explorer 5, the Microsoft platform, a difficult lengthy U R L , the contrast to First Class, etc.), I needed to pursue a Latourian socio-technical analysis. I needed to reconcile the portal infrastructure with the social perceptions and determine how the infrastructure and design had failed the mentor-users or how these users, indeed how all the human actors, had failed the portal. I needed to meld the social and technical back together again, to remerge E d X ' s social and technical histories with my stances onto the project and not privilege one over the other(s). In this chapter, I retrace the historical phases of the P K P teacher education portals project and its methodological turns and choices that the consortium made as we designed and developed these portals and tested them through implementation. I begin with the first P K P portal, PKP-VanSun , to retrace the methodological orientations of usability, P A R , and socio-technical that we were engaged in as we built these portals and tested them with users. Phase 1: Designing and Constructing for Usability Cognitive psychology studies how the human mind works, but as a field, it doesn't often consider the mental activity of ordinary people using tools such as cars and appliances (see Hutchins, 1995), nor do the learning sciences or teacher education often consider how computer tools like portals could assist teachers in developing professionally; an understanding of technology, particularly its usability, its degree o f user-centred design, is often missing from these fields. Conversely, many in technical disciplines such as web 121 design or software development have a greater mechanistic, technical focus where social needs or human capacity is often unnoticed or neglected. The work to make a technological artifact more user-centred and more intuitive and simple in its user interface is referred to as usability research. Usability is a well-accepted approach to information system development that typically includes testing prototypes in use settings. In usability studies, researchers study the "fits" between design techniques of artifacts and the psychological characteristics of human users (see Donald Norman 1988, 1993, 1999). They work to implement and materialize those design ideas into working effective websites with corporate clients (see Jakob Neilsen, 2000). Usability researchers work to reinsert the psychological or the "human" into engineering and technology at the design phase. They work to eschew the idea of technology for technology's sake as a design principle, instead, usability researchers work to increase the development of usability or effective, user-friendly, simple, error-less design (see K i m Vicente, 2004). Working within a research-design team building portals, the first goal was to build the tool, to materialize the ideas into bits and bytes o f what this prototype could look like and how it would function digitally. Research was to inform design at each site, at each portal construction, and the design results were to inform the ongoing research, hence my use of the term research-designers (or design-researchers). The method plans for P K P ' s usability worked well in the sense that our prototypes demonstrated to funding agencies that we had technical contributions to make in educational technologies and we subsequently gained more funding based on these working prototypes. The usability methodology also drove the project forward and materialized knowledge management systems: E d X and PKP-VanSun both exist and open-access, internet-sourced knowledge can be accessed. 122 Some o f the usability challenges in building PKP-VanSun (that weren't altogether eradicated) included connecting the foraged web resources to the VanSun article topics; convincing the newspaper website to include a direct hyperlink to our P K P portal U R L so that users wouldn't have to memorize or transcribe our website's U R L ; recognizing and reducing the large amount of text on the homepage; making the cross-indexing of topics with knowledge domains obvious and intuitive to users; emphasizing and hyper-linking the access to the discussion boards as well as the indexes on each page of content; and, providing navigational means for the user to return to previous pages and sections without hitting the Back button on their browser. The usability tension that was in constant interplay in the P K P P D projects was the sense that the project was driven for technical sophistication, to demonstrate how our innovative portal features could make research knowledge more accessible and usable, but we had to also contend with the need for simplicity, to prove to teacher-users that we could create a familiar, comfortable digital space where teachers could accomplish defined tasks easily (such as the course tasks of C I T E or the broader assignments for the N E T T L field studies). Usability studies recognize that social practices in digital environments and technological design are mutually constituted. Working in this approach, one looks for fruitful ways to bring use or users into the design process and for the design methods to emphasize the users' experience, hence the term user-centred design. However, usability aims first at technology innovation rather than social change. In usability research, technological innovations and system features are often materialized first in the belief that they w i l l produce social effects next or later. The political scientist Langdon Winner (1986) and Social Informatics scholar Rob K l i n g (2000) have both 123 observed how discussions of values, of social concerns, tend to arise as afterthoughts to deliberations that are focused primarily on making the technological tools "work" or function. This approach to functionality is a primary concern in usability studies: the focus is on the system designers and how they can approach design to enhance ease of use by any abstract, generalized, anonymous user as is often the case in websites for the "public". Usability researchers do not often focus first on "sociability", a term to describe issues o f trust, community, time, worth, and collaboration inside groups of users (Preece, 2000). Design problems become harder, messier and more realistic as more networks, interconnections, and chains of association between people, tools and practices are considered and attended to in a prototype's design. A technological innovation may look good in screen shots by the design team, and yet turn out to be problematic, disconnected, or incomplete in actual settings of implementation with the intended end-users. When research-designers look mainly at technical features to make decisions about how to apply new technologies, or when they engage with participants to only discuss technical features development, they are likely to miss some o f the key social and infrastructural interconnections that shape successful practice and permit users to recognize these technologically-enhanced practices as valuable (O'Day & Nardi, 2003). A nagging validity issue with usability as a design methodology to produce user-centred technologies (and an ongoing consideration with any user-centred research) is the question of how user-centred can the design and prototype actually be when the users aren't the ones developing or paying for the portal (Lynch, 2003)? For usability researchers, how user-centred can the prototype be when the ownership or power of decision is basically unavailable to the users? Usually, the answer given is in the amount of use of the prototype 124 by the users. If there were an established number of hits and access measures that merit the label of successful use 5 3 , then usability w i l l have achieved its purpose. Or, in other words, the issue of achieving a greater user-centred method is negligible in importance i f the results are high-use measures. The strength of a usability methodology is that it pays particular attention to the technical design, the instrumental means to create an effective, human-friendly artifact. Designing this type o f an artifact helps persuade or demonstrate to people that they should become "enrolled" users or "allies" (Latour). Designers are primarily the focus of usability research where the emphasis is on how to demonstrate and convince designers to change their design approach to better match and serve human users by matchoing the technologies with "human factors" (Vicente, 2004) such as intuitive, physical/ergonomic, affective, and efficiency/time factors. Usability as a methodology helps streamline the energy and efficiency of a research project, to translate the project's intentions into technical, workable features, to make the artifact's content offerings accessible to users through ease of use. Usability allows the researchers (and the research project) to arrive at a technological point at which their research questions can begin to be addressed with user-subjects, to begin to grapple with what the ease of use provides the user, rather than spend the majority of the project's time and funds in making the artifact technically functional. This is a difficult number to define as there is no uniform standard as to what "success" entails in hits. The success number needs to be determined situationally by the project or group of research-designers. In the P K P prototypes, the PKP consortium -particularly myself, John Willinsky and Vivian Forssman- engaged in debates as to what percentage of use by the designated user group would indicate a proof of value. Would it be 10%, 25% or 50% of the user group who indicated a regular access to the portal? Was regular access measured in terms of logging on once a day, once a week, or once a month? 125 Phase 2: Participatory Action Research -with Portals Participatory action research appears posed to address the gap and limitations to user participation in many methodologies, including usability research, by attempting to open the possibilities up to participants in its very name and design. After the first PKP-VanSun prototype, the project consortium became concerned with bridging the distance between the prototype and the users so that we could attain loyal regular users and begin to determine the potential value in informing practitioners about educational research through digital means. We needed to succeed at usability (or attaining a loyal user group) in order to understand how teachers begin to frame research knowledge as usable, to understand what ease of access to research means to these practitioners, or to engage them in epistemic communities inside a portal prototype. The original E d X portal proposal methodology (1999) relied on a participatory design process, describing methods that would require actively involved teacher-users for prototype development and research utilization: The project w i l l use a participatory design method (Silva & Breuleux, 1994; Schuler & Namioka, 1993). This method establishes a reiterative cycle of proposal, review, and revision in working with the end-users or participants o f EdEx [EdX] to design a variety of formats, processes, and methods that w i l l meet the needs and interests of the constituent groups (researchers, educators, administrators, and public). The process w i l l work from paper models, through web mock-up, prototypes, and working models, returning each time for review and revision, while also introducing the designs for assessment to new groups. The working models w i l l be assessed with the different communities by establishing usage patterns, talk-aloud protocols, and debriefing sessions. Measures would also include, with more complete designs o f the site... • greater frequency and ease of use, • greater levels of participation, • greater levels of satisfaction and increased learning than with other models and sites, with all of this captured by a series of email surveys applied over time. 126 A t the outset, the preliminary idea of a P A R methodology for the P K P projects seemed eminently sensible: use iterative participatory design of a knowledge management portal for teacher engagement with research to explore what works, what's important, and how it relates to scholarly communication and teacher education practices. P A R was the appropriate methodology for P K P because it would allow educational researchers and teacher-users to gain much from each other as the gap between them would be decreased and the legitimate knowledge o f both could be recognized and integrated. The P K P portals were to evolve in design, be developed to match participants' needs by offering, motivating, and assisting the teacher-users to participate in and decide the development of a portal for their own use and ownership. This methodology works inside action research, as according to Noffke (1997) action research is "fundamentally about emergent meanings o f both action and research, as well as the relationships between them" (p. 306). In the case of P A R for portals, action research is fundamentally about emergent meanings of both design/usability actions and prototype research, as well as an evaluation of the relationships between them. Evaluation or review of the use and effectiveness of the portal is a constant concern informing the methodology o f the study, the design of the portal, and the participation in the social by the actors. Participatory action research is an approach to producing knowledge through democratic, interactive relationships. Researchers work with communities to resolve problems identified by the community member-representatives and the process of research is intended to empower the participants (e.g., Schuler, 1996; Schuler & Namioka, 1993; Bishop et. al., 2001). Participants are to be actively involved in the decision-making process as part of the method where the participant-users make decisions rather than function as passive 127 subjects/objects, waiting to be observed and illuminated back by the researcher's tales. B y attempting to break down historically defined and culturally reinforced power roles between researcher and participants, P A R encourages what some researchers see as "collaborative" research (Sumara & Luce-Kapler, 1993): a form of research that strives for a goal of equal participation in a friendly, comfortable community setting (see Klinger, 2001). The initial idea of the P K P P D portal projects was that the relationships between theory and practice, between academic knowledge and teacher knowledge could be enhanced and democratized through P A R . Making external-to-the-university stakeholders, such as teachers, an integral part of the knowledge management, knowledge generation and evaluation processes of the portal projects, P K P was motivated to democratize educational research as much as the Internet digital medium would permit. We believed that by inviting teachers to engage in dialogue with the researcher-designers, they would begin to believe that their experiences in educational technologies are important and valid. The intent was that teachers begin to realize that their local knowledge merits a valuable place in the determination or development of teacher-education portals. A n d these teacher-participants would help the researchers carve out or test digital environments to make technical features workable (usability) for teachers as well as direct researchers to understand how research knowledge through digital means can become more usable, trustworthy, valuable, or aligned to teachers' knowledge needs. Problem of Participatory Methodologies with Professional Development Portals According to Kemmis and McTaggart (2003), " P A R has three attributes employed to distinguish it from conventional research: shared ownership of research projects, community-based analysis of social problems, and an orientation toward community action" (p. 337). 128 Difficulties ensue when P A R involves teacher-practitioners working with university-based researchers on an educational technology project to consider the reform of both teaching and research. The first difficulty is that an educational technology project such as the P K P portals cannot be owned by user-participants when there is mandatory participation. In the voluntary mode of participation, ownership is still a contentious and thorny issue. It is difficult for participants to believe in an expensive, experimental environment that has not yet proven itself. The teacher-participants could almost view themselves, their participation as experiments because the life or duration o f the portal project continues only as long as funds and research grants continue, ascertained and directed by the university-based researchers. Unlike the commitment and investment of participants in problem-posing, reviewing, revising and reworking a local situation through action research 5 4, participants cannot really own or be as invested in a portal initiated by an external source (such as a university research team), even though they were the exclusive users of the system. A portal environment is not a lived or local experience until the user-participant wants it to be. The process of enrollment can be particularly difficult for a voluntary support tool such as the E d X portal. Unlike a course, an authentically P A R digital tool is not mandatory or mark/grade dependent. If they were mandatory and grade dependent, the portals would risk becoming coercive tools, forcing participation and eliciting discomfort. Enrolling participants to use the tool in order to begin the process of participatory action research/design is an equally tricky and difficult situation. Ensuring that participants w i l l make the effort to learn the navigation and narrative of purpose of the digital tool and in 5 4 See the discussion of the Cornell PhD study of a mandatory university physics course that was reviewed and reworked by a committed group of students, intent on improving the learning conditions of what had become an unpopular and low success rate course (in Greenwood & Levin, 2003, pp. 158-159). 129 the process make a relationship with the portal is more readily and speedily accomplished when employing incentives such as grades, marks, or credits. The P A R method becomes particularly complex when marks are employed (PKP-VanSun with the C I T E preservice teachers) because the marking creates a power dynamic that P A R is supposed to challenge and dismantle. When marks are the incentive, the participants have little choice but to participate, little voice to ultimately change this evaluation stance or power imbalance. The participation of students can be interpreted as one of power or oppression coerced by both the tool and the researcher-implementers. And , i f the tool is voluntary but not integrated into the course effectively and seamlessly, the tool can become an irrelevant add-on for participants, demanding time for which the participants have not allotted or accounted. The second difficulty of attaining a community-based analysis of social problems is intricately tied to the first attribute/difficulty but pertains to the recognition of the locus of problems. In a study of teachers encountering new technological tools for the first time, recognizing social problems can be difficult as they are trying to immerse themselves in a technical mind-set (if that is the direction set by the mentors or course instructor). If they believe that technical skills and tools can solve educational problems, then they wi l l find it difficult to recognize and uncover social problems connected with technological or digital tools. Social informatics reminds us that we need to distinguish social problems from technical solutions: the former does not necessarily require the latter, in fact the technical can compound the difficulties of the social (Warschauer, 2003). The degree of participation by the participants depends on who they believe has authentic or ultimate ownership of the technology. In the case of digital technology, it is never just the human actors who have ultimate control and ownership. There needs to be a 130 constant consideration of the digital tool as an actor that exerts a certain influence, an enrollment of its own. In the case of an expensive, sophisticated experimental tool (such as E d X ) , few teacher participants may see the tool as sustainable, financially operational or appropriable by themselves and this in turn makes wil l ing, voluntary, collaborative participation by human participants problematic and tenuous. Not all theorists of participatory action research place an emphasis on this method as a collaborative process. There are those who argue that P A R is frequently a solitary process of systematic self-reflection by the researcher. Kemmis & McTaggart counter that "one person may change so that others are obliged to react or respond differently to that individual's changed behaviour, but the wi l l ing and committed involvement of those whose interactions constitute the practice is necessary, in the end, to secure the change" (p. 382). Indeed, in teacher education projects, there needs to be early adopters o f the new approach, of the idea of change for their professional development. These early adopter colleagues, particularly key stakeholders in the organization, then model for others the rewards and means to participate in this process of change. A s some of the mentors change their behaviour, other mentors are obliged to react or respond differently and may even attempt the same process. Similarly, in research projects involving technological or non-human actors such as portals, when that technological actor changes, the other participants, including human users, are obliged to react or respond differently. It was the issue of un/willing and in/voluntary involvement by the intended teacher-users, believing in and becoming committed to a comfortable, trustworthy, community-enhancing technology that became the reoccurring critical issue for the P K P portals. 131 The difficulties of P A R are many and particularly problematic when the object of the project, o f the research involvement, is the development of a portal. B y involving teacher education contexts through P A R , there can be a constant tension of the researcher(s) trying "to uncover or unmask hidden forces at work in the situation" (p. 347) and the teachers trying to get the job done quickly and efficiently in a pragmatic sense. Researchers entering a teacher education site need to consider that the teacher-participant viewpoint may pose a substantial challenge to the intended research intervention for social change. Teachers, even those directly involved in teacher education through mentoring, do not necessarily want a critical reflection to determine how historically situated their practice as teacher-mentors is or how it has been socially constructed. Nor, do they necessarily want to consider changes to their practices or engage in making thoughtful, deliberative changes. Teacher education researchers engaging in P A R need to work to reveal and elucidate interconnections and tensions between elements of a teacher education setting in terms that the teacher-participants themselves can then regard as authentic and upon which they can become motivated to participate in activity for change and in the proposed research. This type of tension, of translating the researcher's perspective to the teacher-participants or reflexively returning the research project, the research activity back to the participants, is complicated when a portal or digital artifact is involved. The emphasis on the technical or giving the teachers a technological tool to review or participate in has two operative sides: it can help to focus or funnel the research activity into a common project that w i l l demonstrate itself in material or concrete form (the portal itself) or it can become an object o f critique whereby the teacher-participants distance themselves from both the tool and the research project. From the first side, the portal construction gives a material anchor to 132 the research project in such a manner that participants may want to contribute to the research process because it w i l l result in a new concrete usable entity. The portal can draw practitioners into a mode of thinking/researching and collaborating in an epistemic community centred simultaneously on the design o f the tool and on the inherent immersive processes o f transforming their practices, their understanding of their practices, and the situations in which they practice in conjunction with the Internet-based tool. From the second side, with the design-construction of a tool, the researcher now has an added dimension of complexity to translate or attempt to make the portal environment familiar to teacher-participants. It is difficult enough to convince teachers to want to engage in social analysis (to make familiar this type of interaction and discourse, on top of their responsibilities and time constraints as practitioners) but to add a technological tool into the project can be distracting, and, may even turn the artifact into a source of critique rather than one of identification and support. If the research goal o f the construction or development o f a portal is to encourage a community of users (be it an epistemic community or a community of practice), there remains a constant tension of the artifact being delegated to the status o f an entity from the outside o f the teacher-participants' setting, their work, and their motivation. The portal researcher needs to remain ever alert to participants taking this epistemological turn in relation to the tool. Or, as Latour (1992) would frame it, the researcher-actor needs to remain vigilant in following the actors and observing both their chains of enrollment as well as their chains of resistances. Phase 3: A Socio-technical Methodology Collaborative participatory action research, as de
UBC Theses and Dissertations
Portals, practitioners, and public knowledge : a socio-technical analysis of digital teacher education Korteweg, Lisa Maria 2005
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