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Portals, practitioners, and public knowledge : a socio-technical analysis of digital teacher education Korteweg, Lisa Maria 2005

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PORTALS, PRACTITIONERS, A N D PUBLIC K N O W L E D G E : A SOCIO-TECHNICAL A N A L Y S I S OF DIGITAL T E A C H E R E D U C A T I O N  By LISA (ELISABETH) M A R I A K O R T E W E G A THESIS S U B M I T T E D IN P A R T I A L F U L F I L L M E N T OF T H E R E Q U I R E M E N T S F O R THE DEGREE OF D O C T O R OF PHILOSOPHY in  T H E F A C U L T Y OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES  (Centre for Cross-Faculty Inquiry)  T H E U N I V E R S I T Y OF BRITISH C O L U M B I A 29 July 2005  ©2005 Lisa Korteweg  Abstract  This study o f professional development portals developed by the U B C research consortium, the Public Knowledge Project, analyzes the research, design and implementation o f 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 o f technology, information artifacts, and people and practices interacting with the larger world o f 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 i n a continuous process o f enrollment and translation, aligning each other into chains o f association, moving towards the goal o f stabilization or realizing the portal's network. The thesis asks how we can move towards a socio-technical analysis o f professional development portals in order to stave off a techno-determinist evaluation o f technological artifacts that result in accounts o f either doomsday failure or hypothetical success. I turn instead to an analysis o f 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 o f the P K P portals and the web o f social and material relations in which the portals were embedded; two social worlds o f teaching -pre-service and in-service- where both groups were grappling with the issues o f knowledge and computer practices flooding into teaching v i a the Internet.  Table o f Contents Abstract Table o f Contents List o f Figures Acknowledgments Dedication  CHAPTER 1 Introduction  ii iii vii viii ix  .  .'  1 1  Event 1: Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia (Spring 1999) Event 2: Salmon Island School District (Autumn 2001) Event 3: Mainland District (Winter 2001) Portals, Practitioners and Public Knowledge Complexity of Portals, Practitioners and Public Knowledge Thesis Statement Plan of the Study CHAPTER 2 '. A Literature Review o f Teacher Education and Educational Technologies  1 3 5 8 10 12 17 20 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 toAddress Social Problems (Informatics) .... 45 Digital Epistemic Community Portals 46 Needfor a Socio-technical Approach 48 CHAPTER 3 Socio-technical Theories and Tools for Analysis  The Network The Actors Displacement, Translation, Enrollment, and Obligatory Passage Points Resistance Purpose and Method of ANT Terminology Black-boxing Intermediaries Inscriptions and Epistemic Communities Complexity and Socio-technical Analysis  iii  50 50  55 57 59 61 64 64 66 67 68  The Case of Aramis Transformative Technologies for Teacher Education  69 .72  Conclusion  75  CHAPTER 4 Setting the Study: Locating the Contexts.  77 77  Overview of Public Knowledge Project Prototype 1: PKP-VanSun (March-May 1999) Description of the Prototype Discussion Forums User Results and Site Statistics CITE Pre-service Site (October 1999-February 2000) Webquest Assignment and the Context of the Study Statistics and Results NETTL the In-service Program (April 2000 to February 2001) Who is NETTL and how is it unique? Specifics of the NETTL Program Choice of NETTL as a Site of Implementation EdX the Prototype Tracking Statistics and General Usability Results of EdX Methodological Approaches in PKP-VanSun and EdX. Connections of Purpose Across the PKP Experiments  77 79 80 83 83 85 87 90 91 93 94 96 97 105 109 111  CHAPTER 5 113 Methodologies for Portals: Departing from Usability, Problematizing Participatory Action Research, and Reconciling Infrastructure 113  Introduction Multiple Phases, Multiple Methodologies My Researcher Stances Phase 1: Designing and Constructing for Usability Phase 2: Participatory Action Research with Portals Problem of Participatory Methodologies with Professional Development Portals Phase 3: A Socio-technical Methodology Socio-technical Methodology for Post-Implementation Analysis Conspicuous Methodological Challenges Conspicuous Infrastructure My Stance of Reluctance in Acknowledging Infrastructure Methodologies for Teacher Professional Development Portals Issues of Validity, Reliability, Generalizability C H A P T E R 6... '. P K P - V a n S u n and C I T E : The Case o f Inverted Hollywood  Artifacts as Narratives Master Narratives in Technologies How Portal Narratives Can Learn from Movie Pitches Movie Pitch Structure  iv  113 116 118 120 125 127 132 135 139 140 141 143 144 150 150  150 151 153 155  PKP Movie Pitch for Pre-Service Teacher Education Set-Up: The PKP-Vancouver Sun Prototype PKP-VanSun Sequel: The CITE Empirical Example Summary of the Actors Movie Scenes: Connections in the Gender Discussion..... Key Scenes: Disconnections in the Gender Discussion Assistants to the Heroes: The Pivotal Role of the External Mediators Frailty of the PKP Prototype in Comparison to Hollywood Movies Final Pitch Last Pitch of PKP- VanSun Part II  158 159 161 167 167 170 174 184 186 188  The Empirical Chapters  147  CHAPTER 7 E d X : The Intermediaries' Tacit Successes  190 190  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: PKPVanSun 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 CHAPTER 8 The E d X Trials  226 :  Socio-technical Trials Dualisms of User-Tester Perceptions Social Context of the EdX Trials Spokesperson Actors of NETTL: The Mentors Affective Goal of Comfort in NETTL First Trial, First Theatre of Proof and First Resistance Mentors and Comfort EdX, Comfort, and Gender Discomfort with Experimentation, Discomfort with EdX IILocal Knowledge, Local Expertise IIIInfrastructural Simplicity or Complexity A Proprietary Software Developer Controversy of Microsoft Internet Explorer 5  v  229 229  •  231 234 236 237 239 241 243 245 248 251 256 261 261 263  Privacy and Community Private Knowledge, Public Knowledge Final Trial ofEdX Concluding Thoughts  264 266 268 271  CHAPTER 9 Conclusions and Socio-technical Lessons Learned  274 274  Introduction Section A: The Literature Reviews. Teacher Professional Development Readings of Latour and the Socio-technical Literature Section B: The Empirical Chapters Reframing Evaluation of Digital Professional Development Portals Research-Design/Development-Evaluation Socio-technical Lessons Learned (and remaining questions) Automating Access to Knowledge or Seeking Disintermediation Underestimation of Comfort, Pleasure, and Ease, with the Transparency of Infrastructure Automating Epistemic Community Portal Design Openings for the Future Section C: Overall Conclusions  274 276 276 280 288 288 291 293 302 305 307 309 311  Bibliography  315  Appendices A Screenshots o f the P K P Portals  331  B C D E F  337 340 342 343 345  C I T E Education Studies WebQuest Assignment Chronology o f E d X ' s Infrastructural Events Gender-Practices Overview Page in P K P - V a n S u n Portal Mentors' Walkabout Discussion on E d X (June 2000) Empirical Epilogue  vi  List o f Figures Figure Figure Figure Figure Figure  1. Screen shot o f P K P - V a n S u n Web site home page 82 2. Screen shot o f E d X Web site home page with Information menu 100 3. E d X Registration or Log-on page 101 4. Linking Users through the People M e n u Functions 104 5. E d X Projects M e n u Listing Ongoing Discussions (e.g., "Features . . " O n l i n e Collaborative "The purpose o f sharing ...").... 105  vii  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 m y advisor, John W i l l i n s k y , who has been there from (before) the start and did not waiver in his support o f my abilities, even humouring me through the rough patches and dry periods. This thesis would have never seen the light o f publication without his intelligent editing and heartfelt encouragement. I thank John for being the type o f advisor and academic who not only writes/speaks eloquently but is also willing 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 i v i a n 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 o f what is tenable in educational technologies. A n d I also want to thank Diane A k e y , a practitioner who intuitively understood the powerful knowledge potential o f 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. K e n Haycock remained on this project from the very beginning and J i m Gaskell joined i n to lend his support and knowledge o f Latour. I would like to thank them for their expediency and professionalism. Finally, I want to recognize two people without whom and because o f 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". H i s love for computers and the Internet continue to remind me o f the importance o f 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.  viii  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 o f education I continue to know, whose path I somehow continue to follow, and whose stories I continue to tell and live by.  ix  1  CHAPTER 1 Introduction  The purpose o f 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 m y research has been a concept o f public knowledge (Willinsky, 1999; 2000; 2002) that has the potential to be achieved through digital, technical means, employed to connect users and resources i n innovative and dynamic ways, and envisage a transformation or change mission for the roles o f 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 o f this research, the notion o f 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 o f educational technologies by educators, became simultaneously focused and displaced, rewarding and uncomfortable, appropriated and disowned i n its implementation. Descriptions o f three critical events that took place within the course o f this study w i l l help introduce the trajectory o f complexity that I experienced during the research period o f this thesis.  Event 1: Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia (Spring 1999) One day in the spring o f 1999, in graduate student offices in the Faculty o f Education at the University o f British Columbia, D r . John W i l l i n s k y met with his research assistants  2  (myself, being one o f these assistants) to discuss a collaborative experiment in-the-making with the Vancouver Sun newspaper that W i l l i n s k y referred to as the Public Knowledge Project ( P K P ) . The editors o f the Vancouver Sun believed there was a lack o f public discussion taking place on the complex issues pertaining to technology and education i n B . C . schools. J o h n Cruickshank, Editor i n Chief, was convinced by W i l l i n s k y to conduct an experiment i n 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 b y P K P to provide relevant web resources drawn from five knowledge domains: research, practices, policies, organizations and issues. The larger mission o f P K P was to "participate i n scholarly publishing experiments that explore the prospects o f greater public access to educational research," with W i l l i n s k y going on to set out five goals o f such work: Such systems w i l l need to offer some form o f (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 o f parameters, from population studied to research method; (3) a way o f 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 ( E d X ) was designed to develop and test an online knowledge management system for teachers, linking research and practice. The E d X prototype aimed to provide improved access to learning technology research, to assist the formation o f online communities o f practice, and to demonstrate the use o f 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. When P K P started, there were no comparable precedents. The 1  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 2 0 0 1 . 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 o f thirty-three teachers (including myself, a part-time teacher), two administrators, and a guest senior administrator from the district office o f this Vancouver suburb, we sat in a large, relatively unbroken circle o f tables in the school library. Our meeting space was located beside the stacks o f books with a row o f i-Macs sitting against a shared wall with an up-to-  1 refer to the team of P K P 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. 1  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 o f 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 o f 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 o f colleagues. The information, coded i n the oral, dissipated into thin air. The resources o f 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 o f the teachers' professional development summaries, as they were not official administrative business but rather informal collegial knowledge sharing. W e 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 o f professional knowledge and experience is in schools and with teachers. I recognized this instance as a typical case o f teachers acting as recipients o f 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 o f a collective practice, o f 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 o f knowledge for their own development or for the development o f 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 o f knowledge.  Event 3: Mainland District (Winter 2001) January 2001. It is a typical rainy winter day on the West Coast. In an administrative building o f a large Vancouver suburban school district (Mainland), nine mentors or teacherleaders are meeting with their university program instructor and myself, the researcher and implementer o f 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 twoyear professional diploma program o f teacher self-study projects integrating educational  In 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. 2  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  2001),  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 m y 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 m y 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 o f 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 m y 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 i n usability to satisfy their knowledge and communication needs and how they became unwilling to take ownership for the E d X portal. Mentor 1, as representative of the majority o f mentors (or "people like me"), describes his own "stubborn" resistances to the driving narrative or expectation o f teacher knowledge practices as represented by E d X . H e laments how the E d X tool embodies and promotes reform, even efficient commendable reform, to his own stubborn ineffective methods o f finding knowledge resources and conducting digital research to inform his teaching practice. Mentor 2 bemoans the genre o f 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. H e views E d X as a static technology, reifying the university model o f a repository of academic research texts. This mentor holds an epistemic position, which finds few living 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 o f E d X as a dissuasive technology for teacher-to-teacher communication or collegial connections. He characterizes the nonelectronic, 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 o f the study. They might be summarized as (1) the genesis o f the Public Knowledge Project ( P K P ) ; (2) the collective loss o f teachers' knowledge and learning in the institutional space o f teacher professional development; and, (3) the social shaping or rejecting o f 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 i n the course o f this research, over a period o f three years, three locations, and two institutions (university and school districts). W h i l e 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 o f knowledge in teachers' professional development. The P K P mission (first event) reveals a significant change o f course for the use o f digital tools i n education: it aims to develop and design technologies which w i l l record, organize/manage and increase the value o f knowledge i n 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 o f technologies for professional development or beyond the flexibility o f a technology to be socially shaped. In this event, the majority o f mentors, who were P K P ' s most important spokespersons for potentially translating the merits o f the portal's capabilities into the interests o f 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 o f 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). It is 4  at this review or trial that the mentors declare the portal as generally unusable for teacherusers, 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 i n which the Public Knowledge Project designed and launched its first knowledge portal, P K P - V a n S u n , 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 o f 36 teacher candidates), culminating i n the creation and testing o f E d X with an in-service cohort o f 100 classroom teachers. The thesis research concludes with the  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. 3  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. 4  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 L i n k Directory, in September 2001.  Complexity of Portals, Practitioners and Public Knowledge In the empirical context o f this chronological and philosophical continuum, the study gathered evidence that spoke to how the design o f 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 i n either their schools or, at the very least, i n their professional coursework. The portal prototype needs to place the local expertise o f the user group, o f their community o f practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991), at the centre o f its knowledge repository. A n d the design o f 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 o f comfort. This study's chronological account o f the events that took place around the development o f a P D portal is a history o f 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 o f the practitioners' use o f the P K P 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.  5  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 technodeterminist stance. Rather, the thesis is an account of a university research team testing grantendorsed, 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 coconstruction of a stable network with practitioners.  13  This study locates the paradoxical nature o f this event at the intersection o f teacher education, Internet-based technologies, and the institutions o f 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 i k e other recurring elements o f 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 o f 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 i n order for the field o f 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 i n the form o f local knowledge. Secondly, the narrative o f use or metaphorical design needs to recognize the contributive element o f human intermediation to build bridges between communities o f  14  users, the stored knowledge (repository), and the dynamic knowledge o f lived interpretation (discussions). The sense o f these two critical components as missing was clearly indicated i n the presence o f symptoms o f displacement and discomfort among participants. Although much discussion, particularly i n information studies and technological design, has focused on user-centred design or usability studies o f information systems i n general, a theoretical or conceptual base o f teachers' knowledge work to inform prototype design, particularly in digital professional development environments, has been lacking. In this thesis, I investigate the uses o f irreductionist social theories o f 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 o f teachers with educational technologies, and, how the design o f teacher professional development portals works i n connection with those needs to co-construct a network. A s A N T theorists state, 6  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 w i l l i n g to take ownership and control o f the use o f 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 o f the portal's functions, contents, or (public) knowledge. This analysis is rooted in an empirical study o f the Public Knowledge Project's professional development portals for teachers over a 36 month period; however, it is not a specific evaluation or judgment o f any one o f the portals or the research consortium o f P K P 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.  6  15  in particular. Instead, it addresses concerns raised by its target user group, the teacherpractitioners (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 o f teachers' knowledge work and the changes brought about by the electronic publication o f educational research, b y both practitioners and academics, on the Internet. The findings o f 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 o f 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 - m a k i n g research more accessible and usable i n the process- while simultaneously faltering to motivate and persuade a critical sustainable number o f users to reliably, generally use and take ownership o f these portals as intended b y our research project. A s a result o f 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 o f 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 o f 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 o f 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 o f 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 o f the system and its contents by modeling themselves as exemplars o f use; and, they showcase their own successful connections with the content or functions o f 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 o f 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 o f practice, highlights critical issues o f comfort and trust in digital professional development portals. Teachers need nonintimidating 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 i n one convenient library-type e-space. The P K P portals were actively defined and designed as knowledge spaces instead o f affective spaces o f comfort and trust for teachers to publicly share and try out new ideas. The main knowledge-work paradigm in the design o f 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 o f 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 o f professional practice o f its own making, rather than P K P needing to design for conditions and effects o f 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 o f professional development, teacher knowledge, and educational technologies. In chapter 2,1 give a brief historical overview o f the emergence and growth o f educational technologies and professional development for the purpose o f providing a setting within which the rest o f the study can fit. Chapter 3 explains the theoretical model o f A N T and other non-irreductionist socio-technical theories through an examination o f conceptual terms that I w i l l use to analyze the digital professional development experiments o f 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 o f implementation and the teacher-participants. Chapter 5 explains the evolution o f methodologies from a usability focus to participatory action research and finally a sociotechnical approach, each corresponding to a particular historical phase o f the projects and to a particular implementation context. Part 2 constitutes the heart o f the P K P prototype study, the place where the empirical facts o f 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 o f which the next two prototypes develop to succeed it (February 1999-February 2000). I consider its impact on a cohort o f pre-service teachers composing an electronic essay through W e b C T discussions with references to the P K P - V a n S u n portal's content. Chapter 7 considers the transformation o f the first P K P prototype into E d X and its successful impacts on some o f the teacher-users' knowledge practices through the work o f skilled intermediaries. Chapter 8 reviews the trials o f 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 o f 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 i n 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 o f the actors and the networks by reconsidering the observations as lessons learned to better inform future attempts i n 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 CHAPTER 2 A Literature Review o f 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 o f computer integration into classroom practices (Pea, 1999; Cuban, 2001). A study o f the history o f teacher education demonstrates that teacher education has been called upon i n the past to perform transformative deeds i n the field o f education (Cuban, 1984, 1993; Goodlad, 1994). A n d teacher education is a viable part o f any change process in education (Fullan & M i l e s , 1992; Spillane, 1999), particularly when practitioners are actively involved, but teacher education reform cannot work alone. Changes i n the technologies available for schooling and for teacher education have an important influence on the way we experience and think o f 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 o f the fields o f educational technologies and teacher education, particularly digital portal environments and teachers' professional development, to locate commonalities or points o f intersection between these fields o f research. Where the points o f 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 o f educational actors.  Un-usability and Inaccessibility of Educational Research Ellen Gondliffe Lagemann, a noted education historian, has claimed that educational research is a byproduct o f twentieth century values on "scientism"—that is, making education research in the image o f the "hard" sciences such as physics (Lagemann, 2000; 2002). A s a result, there is a notable shortage o f "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 o f tools and applications that educators and learners can use. She also promotes the stance that "practitioners should be able to take the problems o f practice back to research" (2002). Related to the problems o f usable research knowledge for practitioners, is a more pressing problem o f 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 W i l l i n s k y (2005) has commented, the idea o f dissemination or access to educational research by the public (those stakeholders located outside o f the university, including teachers) has been seriously questioned. Not only has the scientific quality and contribution o f 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 ( U S ) . W i l l i n s k y specifically questions 7  the sixth principle o f scientific advice, offered i n the Scientific Research in Education report  Willinsky directly addresses the National Research Council's publication, the Scientific Research in Education report (Shavelson & Towne, 2002) in two publications (2005, 2001). 7  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 o f 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 o f 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 W i l l i n s k y that it could be assisted by Internet-based digital technologies, in the order o f "an infrastructure to promote ongoing collaborations among researchers, practitioners, and policymakers" (Shavelson & Towne, 2002, pp. 155-156, as cited i n Willinsky, 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 o f 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 o f teacher knowledge in educational research; facilitation and mediation in teacher education; models o f communities for practitioner-researcher interactivity; the options o f internet technologies for education epistemic communities; and, the complexities o f employing technologies to address social problems i n the field o f 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 o f knowledge for their own professional development (individual consideration) or for the knowledge base improvement o f 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 o f teachers), from other organizational actors within their own school boards (curriculum specialists, administrators, parent advisory councils), from other institutional branches o f education (Ministries, universities, policy makers, Faculties o f if  Education) and, other institutional actors (researchers, parents, trustees). The current situation o f professional development is o f little help in changing this viewpoint o f teachers as knowledge workers. Despite recognition o f the importance o f regular professional development, the majority o f 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 ( B a l 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 o f 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 o f education now develop, (p. 154) However, the problem o f teacher isolation is not simply the lack o f a skill set by the individual practitioner, it also encompasses institutional and cultural elements that cannot be eradicated b y a new skill set taught in workshops or schools o f education. Shulman (1993),  24  the educational scholar and president o f 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 P h D candidate entering and anticipating his membership in the institution o f the university, contrasted against his experiences o f impoverished and solitary knowledge conditions as a practitioner. M y anticipation contained two visions. One was the vision o f the solitary individual labouring quietly, perhaps even obscurely, somewhere i n the library stacks, or i n a laboratory, or at an archaeological site; someone who pursued his or her scholarship in splendid solitude. M y second vision was o f this solitary scholar entering the social order —becoming a member o f the community — interacting with others, in the classroom and elsewhere, as a teacher. What I didn't understand as a new P h D was that I had it backwards! W e experience isolation not in the stacks but i n the classroom. W e close the classroom door and experience pedagogical solitude, whereas in our life as scholars, we are members o f active communities: communities o f conversation, communities o f evaluation, communities i n 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 i n the university, the diligent collaborative community that encourages multiple modes o f interaction (activity, conversation, evaluation, exchange) amongst its members, could best be described as a community o f 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 o f their profession, and to advance their thinking on a particular question or problem. The teacher, on the other hand, has a restricted, isolated sense o f participation i n their profession, i n 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.  25  realization that a larger professional community with whom they exchange ideas, methods and observations could improve itself and the effectiveness and engagement o f their teaching practices. Even the building itself, the architecture o f the school, promotes isolation in its eggcrate like classroom construction. The infrastructural design o f the building neglects conditions for collegial exchange b y teachers or an expansive pursuit o f ideas for engagement. Teachers' interactions with one another are not a focus i n the organizational conditions o f the daily timetable; hence, collegial interactions are often fleeting exchanges i n hallways, i n the staff room over rushed lunches, or tired comments at the end o f the day b y their doors. In the daily demands o f classroom work, teachers do not have ready access or incentives to hone a skill set for establishing networks with one another. This activity o f exchange, o f developing the practice through professional discussion, is not an inscribed discourse i n either their job descriptions, the physical architecture o f schools, school district organization, nor i n incentives to reward for the time and effort necessary for networking and knowledge sharing. The results o f this isolation and ineffective professional development are most acute when teachers who wish to discuss intriguing problems o f practice can only consider graduate school to find like-minded, critically-engaged, professionals. When teachers want 9  to pursue their pressing professional questions, the sad irony is that their main option is to leave the institutional isolation o f schools in order to participate i n a larger, connected, knowledge-pursuant community such as that o f the university.  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). 9  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 i n their work. Teachers also develop a higher sense o f personal and collective professional effectiveness and assume that learning for the students results mainly from school, rather than non-school factors (Lee & Smith, 1996). A n d , finally, when teachers engage with parents and other public stakeholders to determine standards o f 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 o f any significant magnitude w i l l require learning and knowledge enhancement on the part o f 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, i n parallel institutions, from researchers i n 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 i n exchanges about what are effective strategies under which conditions or on important questions that impact teachers re-searching and reconsidering their practices and professional knowledge.  Conceptions of Teacher Knowledge  27  In the field o f teacher education, academic conceptions o f 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 o f scientific/academic and practical/applied, defined into reified positions o f 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 o f usability and accessibility to research knowledge for practitioners and the public is the lens o f research often pointed by academics onto practitioners. University-based researchers, whether advocating for teacher research by teachers or arguing the epistemological validity o f 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 o f 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 o f the project table to the other, to attempt to collaborate on a project o f mutual agenda, roles, purpose, and needs. There are academics claiming that the culture o f school is distinct and different from the university (Hargreaves, 1994; Clandinin & Connelly, 1995; Norris, 2000; Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1993) in terms o f community membership and the impacts o f discourse,  28 organizational norms, and the material conditions o f 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 o f 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 o f 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 o f teachers as researchers or generators o f original, primary source knowledge, must we inadvertently enter the epistemological debates and seemingly "paradigm wars" (Anderson & Herr, 1999), concerning the validity o f practitioner knowledge by battling over the standards, rigour, and criteria o f evaluation? If we abstain from discussing teachers as constructors or generators o f knowledge and focus instead on teachers as filters (Eco & Coppock, 1995), managers, or connectors to knowledge and 10  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. 10  29  resources, we are still addressing teachers' knowledge but not from the point o f defining, judging, or arbitrating it. Teaching is a complex practice o f mediation between different knowledge worlds: the worlds o f official formal knowledge (educational research, content knowledge, disciplines, educational policy, resources), the worlds o f their students and family constituents (their discourse, communities, viewpoints), and the inherent institutional culture o f classrooms (culture o f schools, government policies, prescribed curriculum). A l l three o f these worlds 11  and how they connect or filter through the teacher are objects o f 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 o f the profession. Ironically, this issue o f access to pertinent primary source research knowledge has become most pressing during a time o f overwhelming overloads o f information and new digital technologies. M i s s i n g links (Willinsky, 2002) o f access, and, consequently, missing organizational mechanisms and technological tools for association, for both teachers and researchers, continue almost imperviously to the quickly establishing medium o f the Internet's open access digital connections. Surprisingly, the institutions o f school and university remain concretely and unnecessarily divided as the Digital A g e gains presence and strength in daily life and work. Predominant models o f innovation in professional development are briefly reviewed here to help challenge the gaps or absences o f digital mechanisms, tools, or environments for teachers' access to knowledge. M y argument is that i f these mechanisms and environments  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. 11  30 were given due attention technologically, socially and institutionally, teachers would begin to view themselves as managers, mediators, and contributors o f knowledge for their own practice and for the profession. I contend that it is only when researchers' models o f teacher knowledge are flexible and participatory enough, along with technological design and research for knowledge conditions to inform each other, that we w i 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 o f the education profession. The members o f this profession, practitioners and researchers alike, could stake spaces o f 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 o f 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), i n particular, finds a prominent place in the emancipatory project o f 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 o f practice for teachers (Munby & Russell, 1990; Grimmet & M a c K i n n o n , 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 o f replaying the lesson on the 'video player o f the m i n d ' 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 o f time, money and energy. Teacher researchers have realized that there is research potential i n these conversations o f mediation as well as a means to help alleviate teacher isolation by offering knowledge engagement opportunities as local inquiry activity (Wells, 1994). The risk i n the practice o f mediation i n 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-inaction (Schon, 1988). It becomes the facilitator or the mentor's role to sort through the implications o f puzzling events in the classroom. " G o o d " 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 o f facilitation by the mediator, usually an external teacher-researcher, who believes they occupy a more authorial position i n 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 o f 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 o f 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, teacherresearchers, 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 o f 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 o f the curriculum as administered i n the school? The teacher needs to inform, connect, and extend their knowledge into webs, systems, or communities o f other teacher-inquirers, teacherresearchers and research-facilitators in education pondering similar questions. The internal becomes webbed into a larger professional sphere or community o f knowledge discussion, where the local is maintained while being extended, and this knowledge movement does not displace the central role o f the teacher-contributor and their voice. A commonality among recent innovative research directions in teacher education that relates directly to the work o f P K P and our professional development portals is human mediation. Mediation, usually directed by researchers with teacher-practitioners, was a critical mode o f 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 teacherresearcher facilitating or encouraging inquiry stances with or alongside practitioners as teacher-researchers. Borko (2004) classifies and describes the knowledge activity o f facilitation as one o f 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 o f knowledge connection, exchange, and construction (p. 291). The central role o f the mediator or facilitator is to engage in knowledge discussion or inquiries with practitioners. Sometimes, the goal o f mediation is to challenge and engage i n critical examinations o f 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 o f 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 o f researcherfacilitators. I counter that the local knowledge o f 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 o f in-service teacher education is how much labour, human-researcher contact labour, i n particular, is required for this kind o f collaborative mediation or knowledge facilitation to be initiated and then sustained. The teacher-researcher interaction works o f 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 o f teachers in longitudinal encounters. Grossman, Wineburg & Woolworth frame their method o f collaboration with teachers as a "community o f learners" but this does not adequately reflect the work they, the researcher-leaders, must continually do i n 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 o f researchers' and teachers' time, energy and commitment, and the scalability o f the number o f participating teachers and researchers i n 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 b y 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 m y 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 o f the education field w i l l i n g and invested in the exchange o f 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 o f a sustained interactivity project on both researchers and practitioners. Instead o f positioning the researcher as the teacher o f teachers, o f university facilitators doing practitioners a favour or "service" (Carter, 1993), Huberman (1999) conceived o f it as participation by the researcher in not only research o f 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 o f school does not lend itself to this kind o f supported, sustainable or scalable knowledge work. The mechanisms o f peer-to-peer conversations, space and time for research projects, open access resources o f articles, projects-in-process notices, meetings and conversations with researchers/academics, publications and conferences o f 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 i n 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 o f 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 i n the larger endeavour entitled public education. It is this acknowledgement o f knowledge as the common medium for teachers and researchers that should begin to pry open their respective institutional gates to bridge towards epistemic communities i n education.  Models of Education Communities To lessen the conditions o f both teacher isolation -reducing teachers' opportunities to learn and share knowledge- and unusable research knowledge -the isolation o f 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 i n education as well as study different modes o f interaction between researchers and practitioners. If the two "micro-worlds" (Huberman, 1999) o f 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 o f a community continues, with its associated ideal conditions o f 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 o f constant faltering is that there is not, as o f yet, an established, accepted view o f what model works best to achieve educational communities comprised o f practitioners and researchers. Quite the contrary, there seems to have been a proliferation o f terms and models to describe, outline, and define optimal communities for educational actors including communities o f practice (Lave & Wenger, 1989; Wenger, 1998; in education, Barab & Duffy, 2000), communities o f 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 o f 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 o f community o f 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 i n order to "discover new social relationships to assuage the isolation o f teaching for teachers" (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1999, p. 22). The idea o f community is itself a complex concept with a number o f variations in the literature, depending upon the primary focus o f that community. In communities o f 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 o f practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1998), on the other hand, is focused around negotiation o f shared activities as new members are inculcated through shared participation from peripheral to central membership. In a community o f inquiry (Cochran-Smith & Lytle, 1999; Wells, 1994), the focus consists o f posing, not just answering or concluding inquiries, interrogating one's own and others' practices for the construction o f 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 o f communities o f learners (Shulman & Sherin, 2004; Shulman & Shulman, 2004), power and authority between actors appear to be negotiated around notions o f "expertise." B y implication, the model condones the distinction between inside and outside, local and external o f the teacher world, the distinct separation o f the institutions o f 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 o f a community o f 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 i n authority, the leader-facilitator, is often the university-based researcher b y deference or default as they are most often the initiators, coordinators, and flinders o f these projects. The term, communities o f practice (CoP), is very current and popular i n a variety o f fields including information studies, commerce, and education. CoPs focus on the negotiation and refinement o f activities within work-oriented environments and focuses particularly on  39  the engagement o f newcomer-members i n 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 o f 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 o f its development. Taken together, these elements o f mutual relationships, joint enterprise and a shared repertoire/discourse constitute a community o f practice. These elements ring similar to the ones outlined i n teacher education literature for alleviating teacher isolation (Lee & Smith, 1996), yet they do not implicate mediation or enrollment o f actors outside o f the immediate context, the classroom and school community, nor does it apply to cross-institutional spaces. A C o P can become a space o f 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 i n 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 o f epistemic communities i n education. Epistemic community is a broad generic term I employ i n this study to acknowledge the need for new models o f 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 o f these epistemic groupings or communities.  40 •  The term, epistemic communities, has been accredited to John Ruggie (1998)  12  and  has been employed for a number o f years in the Social Sciences to study a phenomenon similar to Durkheim's term o f "mentalites collectives" or collective mentalities. A n epistemic community is not predisposed to the playing out o f power relationships between individuals driven by calculations o f utility. It is conscious o f 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 i n a broad sensibility here in order to avoid predesigning 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 o f a group o f people engaging i n ideas o f delimiting their language and assumptions appropriate for this m i x o f actors and expanding their ideas o f an appropriate social reality for educational exchange between teachers and researchers. The term, epistemic community, is distinct from communities o f practice and communities o f 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  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. 12  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 o f 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 o f highsubscription cost journals or available to only those with university library access), practitioners and researchers have a new intra-institutional space i n 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 o f knowledge objects. This forum could be described as an epistemic community. The work o f educational epistemic communities would be a melding o f the private and the public, o f autonomy and interdependence, for both researchers and practitioners. Mediation and translation (through cross-institutional dialogue and engagement) would be key leavening or participatory processes i n 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' o f the epistemic community may displace the initial assumptions guiding and motivating some participants i n 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 am referring here to specific Actor-Network (ANT) terms of Bruno Latour, which I re-define, elaborate and apply to education in Chapter 3. 13  42  assumptions and their new, shared understandings i f these understandings bind the new community/network together. A n epistemic community encourages the idea o f a collaborative, mutually responsive, contributory group with an acknowledgement o f the good o f different institutional positions o f the members. Members know they w i 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 i n 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 o f digital P D , informed by teacher education research, is that it can work to overcome the chronic problems o f 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 o f analog P D by giving access to usable research through well-indexed and integrated knowledge repositories. H o w can technology help appreciate, accentuate, and support the complexity o f 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 o f the knowledge, to embed it inside a larger literature and discussion that is inside educational research (and i n which the teacher lives, even tacitly and unaware). M y argument is that technologies, malleable technologies, innovative knowledge environments, are capable o f allowing and permitting teachers to include their own voices into the creation o f the literature and research o f 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 o f 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 o f 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 o f teacher education through digital environments is located i n socio-cultural theories o f learning by practitioners. It examines technologies as socio-cultural instruments for those who want to enter communities: communities o f practice, communities o f learners, or epistemic communities. I am not examining teachers' participation i n the P K P P D portals as a means to measure and assess  44  participation i n a particular type o f community. Instead, I grapple with the theoretical and empirical implications o f 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 i n education as defined by the people involved at each site and defined b y 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 (Willinsky & 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 i n the profession o f education. This was the model o f the Public Knowledge Project: to create a wellspring o f resources, o f knowledge documents defining positions and outlining new models. This model was first conceived o f as a type o f knowledge management system but the foundation o f 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 thinktank system where workers spend a part o f each day consulting and adding to the system's repository (Sveiby & L l o y d , 1987; Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995). It is a means to collect, store and publish internally the tacit, implicit knowledge o f many o f its workers. It is a type o f digital library and new work practices/training/professional development all combined. The purpose o f the P K P portals was to provide a rhetorical space o f access and immersion into educational research where users would find scholars whose work (and presence) could constitute (micro and multiple) epistemic communities i n one space. Userpractitioners would want to engage in these epistemic communities because they could fruitfully express their knowledge claims in stories o f practice, in observations from the field, and i n dialogic questions and discussions with writer-researchers they admire.  Complexities of Employing Technologies toAddress Social Problems (Informatics) Presently, across the proliferation o f educational technology studies i n 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 o f 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 o f many educational technology studies has been on singular components such as technology leaders, cognitive frameworks underpinning the design, potential contributions o f the tool or demonstrations o f a framework rather than the combination or the entirety o f 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 o f 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" ( K l i n g & Courtright, 2003, p. 221). Social Informatics  14  critics such as K l i n g and Courtright, complain that the casual use  o f the term community to characterize groups that are engaged i n learning has been over-used and misguided particularly i n reference to groups using technologies. I particularly agree that there seems to have been an uncritical overemphasis on the term community, particularly "community o f practice" (CoP), to characterize any group that "is engaged i n learning or eforums" ( K l i n g & Courtright, 2003, p. 221). Instead o f focusing on the dream o f 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 o f the tool's infrastructural abilities or technical constraints to work in relation with human users.  Digital Epistemic Community Portals A goal o f the P K P portal study was to see the extent to which the engagement o f the portal users (the practitioners), their use o f the tool, was aligned to any model o f community (CoP, Community o f learners, an epistemic community). Barab and Duffy (2000) explain the role o f community in educational contexts as one where, "the goal o f participation i n a community is to develop a sense o f self i n relation to society - a society outside o f the classroom" (p. 43). In this study o f portals as a set o f mechanisms and infrastructure constructing and supporting a rhetorical and resource space for sustained interactivity between researchers and practitioners, I examine the role o f and participation in community  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). 14  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 o f self in relation to an epistemic community - a community outside o f the classroom yet intimately connected to and invested i n teaching and education. For the P K P portal participants, digital infrastructure and tools were to act as an extension and enlargement o f users' face-to-face communities, allowing them to engage and expand on their educational understandings i n ways not supported by the isolation o f their school settings and the limitations o f their few and far i n 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 o f participation i n 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 ' D a y , 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 o f teaching and teacher knowledge conditions) because the users themselves could define the functions  48 o f the tool's infrastructure, the disposition o f the community interactions and the content levels required to meet their knowledge needs. A t the same time, these portal environments necessitate a level o f openness to collaborative knowledge work that could be overwhelming for some (particularly for teachers unaccustomed to this kind o f collaborative knowledge work), and so the extent to which the democratizing knowledge ideal o f 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 o f the project, the desired or aspired to state-of-affairs rather than to analyze an existing reality. Instead o f assuming that a knowledge space for practitioners on the Internet w i l l result i n 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 m i x , 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 o f artifacts (such as websites) in a much more integrative manner. P D portals are structured socio-technically, i n that they are co-configured not only by the constraints and "affordances"  15  (Norman, 1988) o f the technologies involved, but also by  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. 1 5  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 proenthusiastic portrayals o f technology -the technological artifact is the reason for the formation o f close, trusting education communities- or techno-indifferent -the technological artifact is unimportant i n offering and leveraging support for group development.  50  CHAPTER 3 Socio-technical Theories and Tools for Analysis  The historical point at which I am reviewing and assessing the contributions o f the P K P portals is one i n the field o f educational technologies that has led K o z m a (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) o f interactions between technological agents and social groups that differs from those typically followed i n most educational research, particularly i n educational technologies and teacher education. In the last decade, a growing literature in the history and sociology o f technology has introduced an array o f 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 o f Latour (1988, 1991, 1996) and his theory o f 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 o f knowledge) as humans on the technologies (i.e., as the innovators, designers, constructors, participants and users o f 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 o f educational technologies by demonstrating that practitioners, human-actors,  51  engaged i n the use/non-use and implementation/resistance o f technologies, transform portal design and development as much as the portal transforms their practices. In this chapter, I first introduce Latour's terminology o f socio-technical relations or analysis, then illustrate his points and terms with examples from his own work o f Aramis: or the Love of Technology (1996), and finally lay out how I use his conceptual language i n examining the work o f the P K P portals by adopting a socio-technical approach similar to Latour's A N T . In m y work with digital P D portals intended as forums for participatory design with teacher-practitioners, I needed a theory (and methodology) o f technological change as a social process that would permit an analysis pointing i n two directions: 1) the design, tinkering, or bricolage o f the portals b y 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 o f the users' social world. A t this stage o f analysis, I can view the non-linear emphasis o f the P K P portal projects where the portal's construction was influenced b y 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 i n knowledge exchange, connections and interpretation (knowledge construction). B y employing the language and terms o f Latour's actor-network theory ( A N T ) , I examine the relationships between the meanings o f technological artifacts such as digital P D portals and their socio-political implementation b y 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 , draws upon multiple related socio-technical 16  approaches, predominantly located inside science and technology studies (STS), and one o f its central concepts, actor-network theory. I look to this field for its longer history o f 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 o f technology - sociotechnical analysis o f bikes, bakelites, etc. - signals the power o f an analysis o f technology guided first and foremost by its role i n social groups. He describes how social interpretations o f problems (by the target groups or users) fix the meaning and material, physical form o f 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 o f a smaller, easier to mount bicycle. Bijker's idea o f "technological frames" refers to the combinations o f 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 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). 16  53  o f performance o f the scientific or technological actor for a select, elite group's "seeing" i n order to establish and adjudicate fact or scientific truth. This brief sample o f socio-technical works present deep and deeply important conceptions o f 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 o f 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 frameworks (Kaghan & Bowker, 2000). They are concerned with 17  how socio-technical systems - systems or networks o f people, technologies, and practicesare 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 i n order to become stable accounts. The social order is also not pre-determined or given by the technological artifact: the sociotechnical 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 o f 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 o f laboratories and the socio-technical processes by which scientific discoveries gain currency, mobilize resources, and collect allies v i a 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, i n the process o f description/observation,  17  Please see footnote #6 on p. 16, Chapter 1, for a fuller explanation of the term, irreductionist.  54 analyzed. A N T argues that key elements (and terms) such as actors/actants,  18  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 o f 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 o f sociotechnical systems such as Latour's account o f Aramis (1996) and the conclusion o f P K P ' s most expensive, well-funded, and sophisticated P D portal, E d X .  1 9  M y purpose i n 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 o f this ANT-informed, socio-technical approach to the P K P prototypes is not simply a reflection o f the artifacts themselves but rather a record o f development in digital professional development. The method's purpose is not about locating, defining, or evaluating the P K P portals inside taxonomies o f educational artifacts, but rather registering the historical design and realization process o f P K P into the study o f digital professional development. The A N T adopted approach is a toolkit o f 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 o f an endlessly reflective mirror on the  1 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 valid (social) actors comparable to humans. I w i l l mainly use the term actor since it is more familiar for the reader. B u t its association needs to remain o f equal weight between human and non-human entities. 18  A r a m i s is the account o f a failed automated personal train system i n Paris—how it came into and then lost its existence, resulting i n failure or death, surviving only i n Latour's o w n analysis. 1 9  55  tool's set o f 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. viii). I am working these theoretical concepts and terms as contingent, practical, hypothetical tools with which to think and communicate about portals i n 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 m y 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 o f A N T is the actor-network which is "any collection o f humans, non-humans, and hybrid human-non-human actors who jointly participate in some organized and identifiable collective activity i n some fashion for some period o f 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 o f organizations, social institutions, machines, artifacts, and agents, at least for a time. The most unusual and robust contribution o f A N T to the study o f socio-technical systems is the inclusion and agency o f the nonhuman. 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 o f heterogeneous actors: pre-service teachers, in-service teachers, university researchers, private  56  sector project managers, software developers, university program instructors, teachermentors, W e b C T discussion boards, diploma program website, web-based public edocuments, 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 o f a scientific or technological entity depends upon the manipulation o f the world outside the laboratory or the system and the forging o f 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 o f standards and common platforms, the cooperation o f provincial/federal agencies, and complying servers and firewalls, is also required to achieve the claim or the usability o f the prototype (as materialized through the system) to work in the wider world i n the attempt to effect an institution such as teaching. Socio-technical systems innovation must be consistently applied or co-constituted i n order to work and i n order to strive towards convergence.  20  Socio-technical systems or networks do  not work in just any reality, but only in a particularly (re)worked, designed, and coconstituted 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 i n the manner that we view human actors as forces in a network. Latour's theory is a set o f 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 o f A N T , because there is the problem o f the analyst/reader assuming that they understand the concept "network' from their own use o f the Internet and networked computers. Latour prefers to invert the term as a "worknet" where "the work, the movement, the flow, and changes o f 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 , or non-human actors, as well as the human spokespersons, or the human social actors. 21  What necessarily arises in tracing the network through its links are not two actors who are essentially different, or dissimilar i n nature, but the evidence o f co-evolution o f 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  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). 21  58  ways o f observing, is alerted to detect particular moments in practice where the actions o f the actors are aligned with a certain desire. The interactions o f people and machines are interpreted by human participants (actors or actants) through a form o f 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 o f power i n which the enrollment o f active allies (humans and machines) is a primary mechanism. The next element o f 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 o f educational technologies for teacher knowledge management, education epistemic communities, and digital professional development. A central claim i n this socio-technical approach is that the "description o f relevant social groups (actors) is as important as the detailed description o f artifacts i n standard technical histories" (Bijker, 1997, p. 47). The empirical research o f the implementation o f 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) o f the P K P prototypes in an accumulative fashion i n order to get a more complete picture o f the sets o f actors involved i n the controversy. After I followed the 22  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  Controversy here refers to an unsettled account as well as an undecided verdict on the stability of the network (see Latour, 1987).  2 2  59 different artifact (witness one mentor's use o f I C Q 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 i n manners unforeseen). These groups or actors are also relevant for the analyst when I set out to explain the development o f technical changes with the P K P portals. The identification, delineation, and description o f relevant actor or social groups apply to the characterization and description o f artifacts. " I f we want to understand the development o f 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 o f its very o w n " (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 L a w & Callon (1988, pp. 288-289) as "a process in which sets o f 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 o f 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 o f the population, adjusting their projects to get the sample to cooperate (Callon, 1986).  23  W e , the research-design team o f P K P , wanted teacher-users to turn to our P D portals as their vital link or bridge into educational research. W e wanted to construct visions (or narratives) o f knowledge management or epistemic portals as the solution, the missing link, to problems i n conventional P D programs. W e were trying to establish the P K P portals i n the manner o f what Latour (1987) and Callon (1986) have called "obligatory passage points" i n the study o f digital teacher education. That is, any study o f P D programs or systems would henceforth have to proceed by way o f 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, i n particular, digital professional development, was the dictum that teachers have the right to know, the right to open, free access o f educational research commenting on and influencing their profession, practices, and knowledge.  24  A N T generally emphasizes scientists or engineers' (designers') strategies o f persuasion in the enrolment o f allies. If they are successful, the scientists or system designers become the general representatives o f the populations involved and can speak for and about them i n 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 o f 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.  See the motto of PKP-VanSun's homepage with the moving banner "You have the right to know." (  2 4  61  workable, amenable, and now enrolls or represents their interests as well. However, in the process o f translation, the original members or actors o f the network, are themselves displaced: they have had to shift their own interests, translate their positions i n order to enroll other actors. Thus, the chains o f the network are restlessly dynamic, rarely certain, and stability is a question o f stable, predictable movement. Latour (1987) urges the analyst to follow the actors o f the network and observe how they translate and transform the knowledge claims under question. This work o f transformation (or transmogrification, as described by Bijker) is driven by the activity o f actors enrolling and controlling other actors or allies in the network towards the interest o f 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 o f interests, transformations (and displacements), to some degree, in all directions in the network's chains.  Resistance Latour's (1987) description o f 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 o f the network or the socio-technical system. The method o f the thesis is meant to acknowledge and register the resistances o f actors as part o f the translation and participatory mode o f 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 o f social determinism. "The advantage o f 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 o f power; when it is not, one merely argues that the masters' power met with a lot o f 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 o f 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 o f actors' readings/perceptions o f the system as counter-productive or contrary to their worldview, discourse, or practices. Resistance reveals the inherent dualisms o f 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 i n educational research). I am delineating and following Latour's (1986, 1987) analysis o f the development o f 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 o f 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 i n a nonobvious, 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 i n the delivery o f curriculum). To have an oppositional effect, resistance needs to be recognized as such b y the organization. In the P K P cases, recognizable human 'resistance' might be characterized by the actions o f 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, i n deciding to deploy an action that might be taken as some form o f resistance, the human actors (e.g., mentors) offer an "anti-program." O n the part o f non-human actants, an "antiprogram" might arise i f there is a repetitive technological "fault" or flaw, such as the search engine or search commands o f the portal do not produce any related resources to the selected key terms or the portal system does not respond or function i n 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 o f 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 i n the network's chain.  Purpose and Method of ANT Terminology Latour has not created these terms, these neologisms, i n order to adjudicate, judge, or enforce meanings upon the actors. Central to the process o f A N T is the semiotic work o f description. A N T does not proceed from a policing o f terms, but proceeds through description as a means to follow the actors and the translations. What is interesting i n 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 o f A N T and the dictum o f Latour is follow the many actors and heed to what they say. Neither the actors nor the translations o f 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 i n that he does not advocate for any one actor or group o f actors, human or non-human, as having greater influence, greater force to determine the network's outcomes o f stability, its realization.  Black-boxing The black-box refers to an image o f a box that controls both the input and the output. The inner workings o f 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 i n use, and teacher practice reform. N o one knows what the 'killer a p p '  25  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 o f the school. N o one is yet convinced that they have a tool that only requires inputs and assures the right output. M a n y teachers are reluctant to teach with computers, to trust i n the notion o f a computer's pedagogical abilities and efficiency (and with some valid reasons).  26  The educational technology programs thus far have not been  successful i n 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" i n classrooms (Cuban,  2001).  Once there is an invention/development o f a professional portal for teachers which triumphs longevity, credible brand-name status and loyalty o f users, this future artifact w i l l lead to closure and stabilization in the discussion o f 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 o f digital  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 5  For an elaboration of these reasons, see Bryson & de CastelPs (1998a) article, "Imagining teachers as luddites in/deed."  2 6  66  professional development artifacts, precedents such as P K P - V a n S u n 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 i n 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 o f intermediaries. The actornetwork 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 i n 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 o f intermediaries as those actors responsible for the invisible work o f mediation that often under girds the support for the social growth and increasing trust in the network (Star & Strauss, 1999). This conceptualization o f the term, intermediaries, best captures the effective knowledge work o f 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 i n dialogue about their specific needs or point them towards researchers (research texts) who are grappling with similar puzzles o f practice or questions o f 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 o f inscriptions i n establishing credibility and stability, order and power (Latour, 1986; L a w , 1992). Inscriptions play a key role in the creation o f 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 o f 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 o f cross-institutional boundary objects  28  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 o f their knowledge claims. Portal and open access technologies (such as the P K P portals) help facilitate the conditions to exert this kind o f 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 i n 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 o f mappings for a teacher education portal in-the-making. Socio-technical concepts bridge the divided conceptual terrain o f 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. A n d , it was this book in particular that inspired me to re-examine and review the project o f the P K P portals to determine why they did not become accepted practices and stable objects i n 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 o f public transit in the larger metropolitan area o f 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 o f many human actors including civil 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 o f track layouts. A l l o f these actors (and more) were i n 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 o f 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 i n Paris. After millions o f francs and years o f development, the Aramis project was scrapped and the object became textual inscription. B y  the end o f the book, the two narrators and key human actors do not attain a complete history or total resolution o f the death o f Aramis. Instead, they attain a list o f different understandings o f Aramis, summarized from those actors involved in the building o f this train-that-never-was. Latour's central question o f 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 i n the design, creation, and construction o f Aramis by both human and non-human actors. The list o f 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 o f the book, as the French government retracts the last set o f funding, Latour concludes that the blame for the failure or death o f Aramis is the belief in the existence o f "complete objects." Latour claims that it is this (modern) belief that prevented Aramis from aligning the chains o f "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 i n networks elsewhere: an entire public transport system based on a pared-down Aramis (called V A L ) was built i n L i l l e . A n d the Aramis project's desire and driving goal for the attainment o f a hybrid transit system combining the independence o f an automobile and the transport efficiency o f a regular railway train, continues to this day.  Transformative Technologies for Teacher Education A t 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 i n 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 o f engagements o f "what holds and what does not hold together" (Latour, 1991, p. 110) i n 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 o f computer and portal technologies i n their customary practices o f relating and acting as teachers. A s well, i n 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 m y intention to illustrate that power or control to effect change, or, reform, lies not i n any individual instructor, professional development program, or technological device/application, but i n the translations and mediations o f certain social or socio-technical relations for other relations; and, that these transformations in practices arise i n particular socio-technical associations. In the analysis o f socio-technical relations in teacher education, I recognize change and reform in teacher education as a displacement o f the ways that practices o f 'teaching' 29  are enacted and experienced b y practitioners (human actors). I wish to underline the importance o f this theoretical move: in traditional analyses o f teacher reform, o f teacher 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. 2 9  73  development, it appears that teacher educators, professional development instructors or teacher-researchers (those from the "outside" o f schools) control an agenda, a shaping over human and nonhuman others. In this way, in any depiction o f the social or technical as a cause o f 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 o f 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 i n their own practice (their reflexivity or their praxis). When such a choice is made, the teachers implicate themselves as controllers o f their own classroom and professional fate. This conceptualization o f power relations i n teacher's work and in P D assumes that individuals are fully autonomous. I seek to also open and displace (sic) this concept o f teacher education for debate. In this chapter, I suggest that i n engaging with statements o f social action or social change involving technology, people cannot help but participate i n the enactment o f power relations, i n the enrolling and controlling o f others. However, I also suggest that technology is a far more powerful actor i n conditioning teachers' decisions than Is traditionally recognized, and it is becoming a more powerful actor as educational technologies development increases and increases i n its school implementation and presence. If we think o f technology as actively shaping human decision-making processes (Wajcman & M c K e n z i e , 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 o f 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 if 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 o f power and domination. It also becomes evident that when an intention or "desire" is acted on in practice (whether it is a practice o f building transit systems or o f teaching with technologies), the innovator(s) is positioned to encourage fulfillment o f that intention and that computer technology is but one o f the innovative means available to tip the balance on a gradient o f 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 o f this study is A N T - d e r i v e d 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 o f users? In this way, I hope to contribute to a more comprehensive understanding o f 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 o f conceptual terms and semiotic practice permits me to investigate the manner in which we (different stakeholder groups or actors) are co-responsible for and coconstituted in these prototypes (digital worlds such as the actor-network world o f 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 willing to repeatedly state, and, as I positioned them to declare i n the heat o f project deadlines and the thick o f 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 CHAPTER 4 Setting the Study: Locating the Contexts  Although the study under-girding this research was located i n the Public Knowledge Project and, particularly, i n its professional development portals, as I have stated i n the introduction, this dissertation is not a specific or traditional evaluation o f its work with teachers.  30  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 i n the ensuing chains or network o f connections and disconnections. Still, an overview o f the Public Knowledge Project, the two implemented P K P professional development portals ( P K P - V a n S u n 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 i n order to assist readers i n following the actors, contextualize the issues, and follow the portals' effects or chains o f enrollment and displacement. In this chapter, I present this overview in a chronological manner i n 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, i n the Public Knowledge Project ( P K P ) , a research consortium directed by Dr. John W i l l i n s k y i n the Faculty o f Education at the University o f British Columbia ( 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 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 indepth discussion.  3 0  78 these more recent projects and the design and implementation o f the earlier professional development portals is the commitment to maximizing the public potential o f the Internet for both the communication o f and accessibility to research knowledge. Or, as W i l l i n s k y has succinctly stated (2000), " W e [PKP] are exploring ways o f using the Internet to make the vast wealth o f social science research into a greater public resource" (p. 226). The genesis o f 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 o f 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 ( N G O ) groups, side by side with teacher responses; where indexing systems would be integrated and innovative; and, where discussion boards and repositories o f documents would be seamlessly connected. W e also wanted to capture and publish practitioner knowledge developed through participants' own documented innovations, implementations, and responses to educational technologies i n their classrooms. P K P made the complex needs o f teachers our specific focus i n a series o f website or portal prototypes beginning with P K P - V a n S u n (March-May 1999) , the implementation o f 32  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. 31  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. 3 2  79  the P K P - V a n S u n portal with a cohort o f 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 (April 2000-February 2001), and the final conclusion o f the P K P - P D portals which was the transfer o f the accumulated built repository to the W e b L i n k 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 o f 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 o f teacher education chosen for the implementation o f these portals in which I participated directly and one field site in which I helped negotiate the transfer o f the content (of the E d X repository into W e b L i n k in order to extend its knowledge contribution to more teachers), included the following: one group o f pre-service teachers engaged i n collectively composing an electronic essay through discussion ( P K P - V a n S u n , 33  October 1999-February 2000); a cohort o f one hundred teachers in a university-directed, professional diploma program o f educational technologies ( E d X , A p r 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 o f 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 o f public knowledge. W e 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 o f 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 o f information on the Internet, we were seeking to create a countervailing force that linked and conceptually connected web-based resources. W e were exploring how to design portals that offered research knowledge, in particular, more accessible and public forms. The core idea was to strengthen notions o f public knowledge as a vital aspect o f democratic education and action. The first Public Knowledge Project prototype, P K P - V a n S u n , was a working concrete manifestation o f the idea o f 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 o f knowledge that were and still are accessible through the Internet. W e 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 o f 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 o f 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 o f new computer technologies i n education. W i t h each new article, the P K P portal offered a new collection o f web-based links to users to enhance and extend the article's coverage o f the topic. The five sub-topics o f education and technologies, chosen by the newspaper, that P K P mined for online resources included 1) the impact o f technology on curriculum and education 2) funding issues 3) gender and technology 4) the internet and 5) the future o f libraries. The web-based links or U R L s that we selected to back up each o f the sub-topics were chosen to represent six domains o f 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 o f 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 o f information that links theoretical and substantive empirical concerns with practical options and political opinions. The first function o f the P K P - V a n S u n prototype was to link newspaper articles in electronic form to our portal (Fig. 1). The P K P - V a n S u n portal was a repository composed o f  82  a matrix o f hyperlinks, each annotated with a bibliographic entry including author, source, date, full U R L , and a brief summary. W e 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 o f 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.  (PK ) is run by a team of researchers in the Faculty of Education at the University of N o w educators across North America are taking a British Columbia, led by John hard look at past purchases and future needs as they Willinsky. We are exploring grapple with a crucial question: Have expensive new ways of using the Internet to technologies actually improved student learning? "The make the vast wealth of social science research into a jury is still out,' says long-time educator Charles greater public resource. Ungerleider..." [Cont'd] Technology's Educational Impact P  Teachers take on technology  Research  PKT Oveiviews Organisations  Policies 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]  Ethical Guidelines for PK Research?  P  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 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. P  Figure 1. Screen shot o f P K P - V a n S u n Web site home page W e were attempting to create strong connections and a seamless integration between the knowledge-heralding medium o f the newspaper and the schemata-informed filtering and re-packaging o f 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 o f public opinion another important domain o f public knowledge i n 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. W e offered the users a forum directly connected to each day's main article and topic that included guest panelists who were the quoted experts i n the corresponding Vancouver Sun article. The five forums included Day 1) Technology's Educational Impact Conference with the then Deputy Minister o f Education; D a y 2) Funding Equity Conference with the then Minister o f Education; D a y 3) Gender and Technology Conference with a professor o f educational technologies and gender studies; D a y 4) K i d s 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. U n l i k e a regular radio phone-in show or the editorial page o f 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 o f 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 o f P K P . W h i l e we were surprised at the small number o f actual postings by users-visitors, we were also pleased at the number o f readings and visitations. In one case, an anonymously posted message describing the problems o f a school questioning  84  the design o f a computer lab, was read 90 times over four weeks, even though this did not result i n 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). W e also realized that it was difficult i n the portal design to know where the expert-guests were available. W e hypothesized that testing a variety o f formats for the conferences could make a difference for the low rates o f participation by users. These formats could include conferences pertaining to personal testimonials and exchanges o f personal information (i.e., forums for parents with teenagers who have Internet access in the home or educators attempting to upgrade the computers i n their school, etc.). Other conference formats could consist o f a group o f 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 o f issues and categories o f data. The P K P - V a n S u n 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 o f 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 i n total. A quarter o f those visits were from outside o f Canada. A m o n g the different overviews o f 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 o f "issues" and "policies", again both inside the topic o f 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 o f 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 o f Education program at the University o f British Columbia. The acronym C I T E stands for Community o f Inquiry for Teacher Education and the program works to consciously and reflectively create conditions for greater inquiry into the meanings and practices o f teacher education b y both the pre-service teacher candidates and their surrounding education communities. P K P , as represented b y John and myself, began having conversations with Jane Mitchell, 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 i n 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 o f opportunity) i n relation to social class, gender, poverty, ethnicity and sexuality. A s this type o f course regularly examines controversial social issues, the  86 opportunity for greater access to research and other types o f 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 o f the vast amounts o f 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 P K P - V a n S u n prototype could be used and how to best design an assignment task which would both take advantage o f the resources located on the P K P web site as well as take account o f the social issues needing attention i n the E S course. Jane designed an " E S on-line' task to provide a context for the pre-service students to consider the ways i n which access to and uses o f computer technologies i n schools intersects with social issues to generate educational opportunities as well as to perpetuate social inequities. Students were given the following task: 34  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 o f informing themselves through research i n order to address educational situations. In this case o f collaboration between Education Studies and the P K P - V a n S u n portal, the task focused on the topic o f educational technologies, a topic that is regularly dominated by a techno-determinist characterization. Educational technologies can become the same object o f 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.  3 4  87 causality for polarized ends o f a techno-determinist argument where one end extols the virtues o f I C T 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 o f action when encountering educational technologies in their practice i n 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 i n a threaded discussion, already a familiar and usable tool to these students - and the task necessitated access and references to the P K P - V a n S u n portal, an unfamiliar knowledge repository prototype. T o broaden the discussion o f social issues i n educational settings beyond this one group o f 36 pre-service candidates -who had been discussing topics with one another for three months in their courses- and beyond this one set o f 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 o f 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 E S assignment was designed b y Jane Mitchell as a type o f Webquest where the task itself was presented i n a web-based format, located on W e b C T and contained direct links to both the P K P - V a n S u n portal homepage as well as selections from its Webquest is a term used to describe a digital lesson or learning object i n w h i c h students w o r k online conducting research using web-based resources. The intent o f our Webquest was to model a w o r k i n g example that students might emulate i n their o w n teaching practice. 3 5  repository o f resources. Three modes o f inquiry - writing for the articulation o f one's knowledge position, consulting established knowledge resources to footnote one's position, and, doing all o f this i n a public discussion - were brought to bear upon the question o f social (in)equities and educational technologies through a digital medium. The design o f the task that appealed most to the P K P research agenda was that i n 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 o f our P K P - V a n S u n portal. Each o f the seven discussion threads were "public" to only those with access to the W e b C T site, but within W e b C T , students could read and contribute to other threads i f they so wished. W e traded off our P K P mission for public reach in order to seize upon the chance to work i n a participatory action setting where students would be continuously consulted with i n 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 o f three contributions to the discussions. The first two were written over a two-week period i n 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 P K P - V a n S u n repository to support and provide evidence for their ideas; and to build upon and respond to the ideas o f 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 o f integrating the task with our prototype; I was an external guest moderator in one o f the seven discussion forums, working with 6 pre-service teachers on the topic o f  89  corporate sponsorship i n education and technologies; I taught the P K P - V a n S u n infrastructure and navigation to the pre-service class i n 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 i n this C I T E test site. I had only one computer-lab period i n which to introduce the students to the design and navigation o f the P K P - V a n S u n portal. Other complicating factors included the fact that there was still outstanding E S coursework to be finished during class time, which meant the instructor was not able or w i l l i n g to link online discussion with face-to-face class time. The WebQuest task was implemented at the end o f 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 i n the E S course itself. A s we began the introductory session, Jane and I overheard and observed negative sentiments such as, ' O h , not another assignment' and ' W h y write when we can just turn and talk to one another?' Yet, despite this initial (and valid) grumbling, the majority o f 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 o f 43 x 3 or 129 postings. After the task and online discussions were concluded, the total number o f web resource references was 68 out o f 129 or 53% o f the total postings with 43 references or 63% o f the referenced postings referring directly to P K P - V a n S u n ' s filtered, indexed Internet resources.  36  More importantly, student response data was collected from two sources: a postassignment survey o f the whole class - which Jane and I conducted inside class time following a short de-briefing discussion - and a two-hour focus group session o f five o f the participating students, a couple o f weeks after the conclusion o f the assignment. Responses i n 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 o f merit for citation to support students' personal opinions; or, the P K P portal was interpreted as an expert filtering tool o f 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 o f 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 o f users (to engender sustainable use o f the portal) that surfaced repeatedly were navigational  The other 3 7 % of referenced postings included U R L s , found by students off the web. In the final survey, the same number of CITE students found the self-searched U R L s or references as useful and important as the P K P 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 o f 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 o f research experiment again, P K P was i n the process o f completing a concurrent test site, the Public Knowledge Policy Forum ( P K P F ) . P K P F was another teacher-audience prototype 37  developed i n cooperation with the provincial teacher union ( B C T F ) and housed on their B C T F website. Whereas P K P - V a n S u n - C I T E and the later E d X prototype focused on digital supports for specific cohorts o f teachers' formal education (course/program enhancement), P K P F was a prototype focused on engaging a ' p u b l i c '  38  o f teachers i n ministerial policy  formation, revision and implementation. P K P F examined a newly released provincial policy report on educational technologies and was composed o f two components, an online repository o f educational resources following a knowledge schemata similar to P K P VanSun's, and, a set o f 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 i n the very same portal. Those users who read more 39  See Shula Klinger's PhD dissertation (UBC, 2001) that specifically analyzes the P K P F experiment and her role in developing a virtual community of teachers. 3 7  1 refer to the teacher audience of P K P F 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.  38  1 was fortunate to learn of these results from my participation in the P K P consortium and our regular consortium meetings. I did not directly participate in the P K P F 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. 39  92  documents i n 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 o f the portal did not connect, integrate, or effectively crossover these two components o f the portal, discussions and repository. W e reasoned as a consortium that we had increasingly important prototype knowledge  40  and valid, well-selected resources  41  to offer to teachers but that we needed a  more grounded, specific education community -such as a cohort o f teachers- with whom to test and develop the next working prototype.  42  A t this time, we were also being well funded  and endorsed by the Office o f Learning Technologies, a federal funding agency that granted us $300,000 over three years for continuing the development o f our public knowledge portal infrastructure for the purpose o f educating educators. Our proactive project manager, V i v i a n Forssman, was keenly working her networks o f contacts looking to see who i n education might be i n search o f a knowledge portal. A n d V i v i a n 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. 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.  41  4 2  Fieldnotes, January 2000. P K P consortium meeting (Wall Centre, U B C ) .  93 (New Educational Technologies for Teaching and Learning) , a recently established 43  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 i n a university department that works to implement a model o f in-service teacher education that is in the classroom, in situ, or situated in the daily work o f teachers, both physically by offering university courses in the school district buildings and pedagogically i n its approach to teacher reflection, self-study and action research, following the teacher-action-research model o f Lawrence Stenhouse (1983, 1985).  44  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 o f a generalized group o f unknown teachers. In their daily local practice, teachers are constantly making decisions about ethics and politics i n relation to their actions and their effects on students' learning. A cluster o f such decisions surround issues o f 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 i n "working with partner organizations [school districts] to design innovative in-service programs which engage educators i n 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 i n 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. 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).  4 4  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 o f the more recent extension programs developed i n 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 i n one school district with a cohort o f 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 i n 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 o f educational technologies in a school district, hired to supervise and counsel a group o f 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 i n 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 o f the Professional Development department's commitment to collaborative partnerships with  95  school districts and developing local capacity with district teachers. It is also symbolic o f the department's commitment to participatory teacher education beginning with local empowerment o f the teacher's own classroom-based knowledge. The summer institutes are organized, scheduled, fleshed out and implemented by the mentors i n consultation with the program instructor (in this case, Chris). Each summer institute has a designated number o f core pre-designed learning activities that must be completed during the institute. During the school year, teachers choose types o f learning 45  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 o f self-designed, mentor-approved learning activities. The teacher-mentee decides, i n consultation with their mentor, how many credits they plan to earn i n 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. W i t h 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 o f great appeal to many o f the teacher-mentees who were overwhelmingly female i n number, o f a median age i n the late thirties, many with children at home; The N E T T L program could not function as a primarily distance, dispersed form o f education i f it were not for the mentors. Their role is central i n 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 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).  4 5  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 teachermentees are instructed that the evaluation criteria for the completion o f 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 o f 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 i n finding a tool that would inspire and facilitate a community o f 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.  46  But the program and  the instructor seemed conflicted over the interplay or accommodation o f three demanding strands, each vying for emphasis: how much o f an emphasis on technology acquisition for a 4 6  Fieldnotes, June 2000.  97  skills-based program (the preference o f the majority o f these mentors) or how much o f an emphasis on teacher's own classroom-situated, personal-practical knowledge o f technology integration (Chris's preference) or, finally, how much o f an emphasis ( i f any) on public educational research as a central knowledge resource for teachers ( P K P ' 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 V i v i a n Forssman, beginning the collaborative negotiations o f partnership. The first stage o f partnership was a consideration o f 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 codevelop a portal o f resources and communication tools to build a virtual community o f support for the N E T T L students. W i t h a w i l l i n g 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, P K P - V a n S u n and P K P F , we the research-designer team o f 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 i n a university setting (no full-time technical staff, server space, or built platforms). W e 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. O n A p r i l 6 2000, with Chris present, we (the P K P consortium) held a demonstration th  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 o f 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 o f 100 elementary and secondary teachers in a L o w e r Mainland school district. E d X was built upon an existing platform technology, a knowledge management prototype, called Info Exchange, already tested by Cousineau i n corporate settings. In this project collaboration o f an in-service professional development program ( N E T T L ) , a university research consortium coordinating the participatory design and implementation ( P K P ) , and, a corporate model o f knowledge management portals (InfoExchange), we had the makings o f a complex network o f shifting alliances and competitive stances o f enrollment or resistance b y these diverse stakeholder actors (and the "masses o f actors" they would then influence).  47  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 M i s s i n g L i n k 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 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.  4 7  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 o f this body o f research. (2002, p. 370) The E d X prototype qualified for John's infrastructural prescription. E d X succeeded i n fulfilling John's mandate because it could be described as a web-based portal or a type o f digital library where members could both access and contribute  digitized resources collected  from a diverse range o f 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 o f the system. The technologies involved i n the E d X portal included those to support document creation, retrieval, foraging, transfer, dissemination, manipulation, and management o f information. In the screen shot (Figure 2) o f the Information channel (or a drop-down menu), readers can observe the categories o f information that were modified as the E d X prototype was tested and feedback received from the teacher-users. W e began with eight main categories o f information ( M y Interests, D a i l y News, Articles & Reports, Examples o f Innovation, Tips & Tricks, etc.) that were a combination o f categories imported from I l l ' s corporate implementation site (e.g., D a i l y News) and from the last iteration o f the P K P repository (e.g., Articles & Reports). The most dramatic modification in this channel was the  100  expansion o f the " M y Interests" selection o f information into six sub-categories o f subjects and school organizations most familiar to teachers.  Figure 2. Screen shot o f 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 i n 2 0 0 2 . 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 o f users as members o f the selected and funded or paying community (Figure 3) and ensure the protection o f their software code and the boundaries o f the user group.  101  t > Refresh  ft  \  0 " '  •••• .-rtom*•  •'  AutoFill  a  M Print  Mail  3j? http ://*/login/login.cfm y) Live Home Page  ©  Apple Computer  @  ^PP * Support 1  (£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 o f 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. W h i l e 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, o f giving a defined gateway into a repository o f community-selected information. In a rather technicist or techtalk fashion, this definition o f 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 o f "portal" is still transitory and difficult to pin-down and define in the every-changing continuum o f digital innovation but the portals o f the Public Knowledge Project can be best described as containing the following elements. There is a collection or database o f content that is a structured, indexed aggregation o f documents. The P K P portals, therefore, are not the Internet writ large but a distinct filtered selection o f Internet resources. The portal's material includes full-form online resources encompassing a range o f 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 o f the repository content i n a participatory, needs-oriented manner. N o matter what combination o f 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 i n a race to develop the ideal technical system. Richard Lucier (1995), the once director o f Library Services for the entire University o f 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 o f other teachers' common interests i n the Profiles selection and connect with users through face recognition in the photo gallery with "the E d X G a n g " (Figure 4). It was difficult for the N E T T L teacher-mentees to make connections to other teachers outside o f their small mentor groups, particularly when the Summer Institute had concluded and teachers were working alone i n their classrooms. T o inform and extend community involvement, teacher-users could be introduced to each other through their document contributions ( " M y 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 Research Network  | Nftl I | lliv (  Evnet: Network for the Evaluation of Education ami Training Technologies , H  *  i  f i  »>  (-, '  , * ^  ) I  f w m S S m ^  h mentoring Paradigm phys.ed. '""sb q u e s t s  Figure 4. L i n k i n g 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 o f 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  Finearts 1  ' ^'  t  c  <  "  , ! f  ' - * ' ' * '^-vniiici 1  • internet  fcvnet: Network for the Evaluation of Echication .nul Trainmn Technologies i  .  ti ..-i "i-,vri^  t»  TU „  .  ,  „  ,  'tit „  •  i  fJ  ii w ,,,r;;;,.'  »**  J t.  -.-...v.r..-..r..,.v.,.;...-  J  gender  j  knowledge mentoring  <r< | L  quests Irtish rnn**H  Figure 5. E d X Projects M e n u Listing Ongoing Discussions (e.g., "Features . . . " , "Online Collaborative . . . " , "The purpose o f 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 i n this E d X experiment for a total o f 105 participants. The only required posting or use o f E d X in the N E T T L program was i n the first Summer Institute: I conducted workshops for every mentor group to ensure that every teacherparticipant posted their autobiographical teacher-learner profiles and the school district technology coordinator took a digital photo to accompany the autobiographical profile. This work o f profiling and photography was spearheaded and emphasized b y Chris  i n order to  set her idea o f community-building tools in place. A t the culmination o f the first Summer Institute's two weeks, the median number o f 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 o f the Institute was 12 times each. A t the height and the culmination o f the Summer Institute I, the number o f logins by the N E T T L instructor-leader, Chris, remained zero. W i t h 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 o f 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 o f 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 o f participation in communication and digital community with the other mentors or for modeling to their own teacher-mentees. After the eight-month research period o f m y active involvement i n E d X and N E T T L , the total number o f 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 b y 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 grew to a total o f 126. In terms o f the portal 49  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 footnoting 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 sociability in terms 51  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. Sociability is a term coined by Preece (2000) to describe the conditions needed to encourage communities and foster human connections digitally. 51  108  Part o f the analysis o f the E d X project is based upon metrics that tracked participation, engagement with knowledge, and indicators o f sociability o f community building. Measures included frequency o f use or logins, levels o f participation through contribution o f knowledge resources, citation o f documents in the discussions, as well as levels o f satisfaction or professional learning, captured by a series o f email surveys, observations o f teachers' practices, teacher-produced documents, and in-depth interviews during the different phases o f implementation. Over 1500 email messages have been collected over a period o f two years from a total o f 27 key participants, representing eight relevant social groups i n 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 o f concern for the participants: they include design choices or features, technical stumps, social dilemmas, feedback on the available resources, questions and critiques o f the technical system. But these themes o f concern were additionally interpreted for the participants' perceptions o f the portal as a contributive or disruptive tool inside technical, social, professional and research realms. The other part o f the E d X analysis is based on m y participation-observation o f 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 o f 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 o f one mentor in particular, Deborah, and her six mentee-teachers. A n d I attended various demonstrations o f learning by Deborah's teacherstudents at different points during the program, including their final demonstrations o f learning in the summer o f 2002. In the E d X data collection, I conducted both face-to-face and email interviews for a total o f 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 o f two main types: the first was the administrative design-research team o f the project (software designer, course instructor, research assistant (myself), project manager and principle investigator). The second type consisted o f myself, the university instructor, and, the eleven mentors and two mentor groups. In the collection o f data, I have used a variety o f 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 o f 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 o f all these data has been approved by the human subject ethical review board o f the University o f 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 o f technical features and design i n these prototypes. The research sites or participating groups were chosen in a complicated fashion o f 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. W e chose these two teacher education situations based on their distinct teacher education continuum populations: new teachers familiar with technologies i n 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 i n 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 W e b C T ) over a two month period as well as taught the tool's infrastructure i n a computer lab setting and helped review the project formally on two occasions (in the faceto-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 i n 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 i n 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 o f technology i n education. In the majority o f cases, I tape recorded and  Ill 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 m y discussions with these actors, I sought the names o f mentees who were gaining a reputation for outstanding use o f information technology i n their course work. I would then speak with these teachers about their experience o f technology and the challenges/promises o f 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 m y 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 W o r l d 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 i n which the portal collections, services, and social interactions were embedded. W e understood the institutional or organizational partnerships as critical i n increasing users' comfort, trust, and loyalty in our portals. In a manner similar to a bank's A T M instilling trust i n 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 o f two university education programs and a major daily newspaper to validate our purposes i n changing teacher education through digital means. W i t h the P K P portals, we were attempting to demonstrate the value o f a certain kind o f 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 o f 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 o f a portal is that this supple information place would organize resources i n a manner that practitioner-users could locate knowledge to answer needs stemming from practice or interest or institutional affiliation. The vision o f the P K P portals was that educators have the right to know what research and resources exist to inform the field o f 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  CHAPTER 5 Methodologies for Portals: Departing from Usability, Problematizing Participatory A c t i o n Research, and Reconciling Infrastructure  Introduction Efforts to understand and make greater sense o f portals, as artifacts embedded i n complex social systems, can easily lead to the use o f multiple methods. This study o f teacher professional development portals illustrates the necessity and strengths o f methodological pluralism, concerning the work o f one research consortium ( P K P ) , across two teacher education research sites ( C I T E and N E T T L ) . Three methodologies - usability, Participatory A c t i o n Research ( P A R ) , and a socio-technical ethnography o f infrastructure - were needed to capture the different evolving goals o f P K P , the different circumstances o f implementation, and the different responses and receptions o f the portals by the intended users. Usability (Norman, 2004; Neilsen, 2000; Vicente, 2004) is a methodology focused on humanizing the design o f artifacts or human-computer interaction. Participatory action research (Schuler & Namioka, 1993; Schuler, 1996; Reardon, 1998; Bishop et. a l , 2003) is a field o f action research methodology focused on the direct participation and involvement o f 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 o f the system/network.  These  multiple methods emerged as an evolutionary or historical developmental process with each version o f 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 o f analysis. Investigating teacher-practitioners' understanding o f their work, their teacher education needs, their practices with technologies and educational research, and their interpretations o f their circumstances i n conjunction with the use o f the portal required flexibility, depth o f inquiry and long-term engagement with the field sites. For a naturalistic qualitative researcher such as myself in this study, a central focus o f the research concerns the problems o f 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 o f events. Interpretation is a problematic issue given that m y observations and interpretations o f the events may not match those o f 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 b y the statistical bottom line or overall conclusion, by the meager rate o f use and lack o f commitment to the portal's continuity by its participatory user groups. A s there were evolving phases o f portal development and implementation i n this study so there necessitated phases o f methodology. The study can be characterized by three distinct developmental phases (1. P K P - V a n S u n and C I T E , 2. E d X , and, 3. the closure o f 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 o f 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 ' D a y , 1999). The nature o f the issues under investigation, the epistemological complexity and interactions o f usable knowledge (teacher knowledge and research knowledge), the multifaceted complexity o f networks connected to technological prototypes, the kind o f usability, participatory, socio-technical data I hoped to collect, the level and degree o f 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 o f 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 m y stances as researcher, both connected to the research consortium and as a distinct, separate researcher, affected the development o f goals, the choices o f methodologies, m y actions as site implementer, and m y turn in the final phase to a socio-technical analysis. In the process o f studying and working with teacher professional development portals, I make the case for departing from a primarily usability focus, problematizing participatory action research ( P A R ) between university-based researchers and practitioners, and I attempt to reconcile the role o f infrastructure i n explaining the regularly modest social uptake o f technological prototypes i n professional development.  116  Multiple Phases, Multiple Methodologies In the first phase o f project development o f this one branch o f P K P research , we 52  began with materializing or building portals concerned with topics o f educational technologies and K - 1 2 schools. The principal methodologicalconcern o f this one P K P project was to help further the design o f the portal for practitioner-users. Dominant matters or themes were the generation o f usable knowledge through usability means i n the portal design and implementation. The methods for determining the effectiveness o f digital usable knowledge was gleaned from use and use was first indicated and observed through access to documents or the number o f hits by users (Were users accessing the site? Were they hitting and presumably reading a range o f content or any particular domain o f documents? Were users responding to the content/knowledge? Were they discussing the collected, filtered resources inside the portal?) A s we built P K P - V a n S u n , I and other graduate students were immersed in the chaos and proliferation o f information on the Internet first-hand. I collected participant-observations o f the problems o f Internet filtering, re-packaging and indexing/ cataloguing these available web-based research resources. A s I became intrigued by the democratic promise o f 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 o f 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 userOther P K P 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)  5 2  117 participants after the experience o f the large, anonymous newspaper reader public. The C I T E research site was an experiment in social implementation o f 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 o f Learning Technologies ( O L T ) grant submission and subsequent research funding applications, the explicit methodology o f the consortium, through a written commitment, was one to iterative participatory action research ( P A R ) . P A R was also a methodology, i n m y 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 i n 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 o f 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 o f 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 sociotechnical methodology became critically important and revelatory for "I"/me, as I could only understand the lack o f social participation by attempting to reconcile the infrastructural or the technical. In the post-implementation stage o f the P K P professional development portals, upon reviewing the unsatisfactory results o f use, the Latourian socio-technical toolkit o f terms (see Chapter 3) became the means for sorting, re-observing, and re-analyzing the collected data over the different phases o f 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 i n each portal development: building or constructing portals in order to elicit social change and the constant review o f the portal to determine their social impact. In the first phase o f P K P - V a n S u n , I was participating i n 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 o f 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 o f the teachers into the portal: I was transfixed upon what I could do to move the portal's design forward with the participatory involvement o f its teacher-users. However, to encourage this social involvement, I needed to try and understand these teacher-users, the work o f the teachermentors, and the apprenticeship o f 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 o f mentoring, the community o f mentors, and the group processes o f 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 i n the position to experience the direct work o f 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 o f implementation. These issues were controversial and complex as the mentors themselves struggled to describe and define their interpretation o f 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 i n terms o f the technical design and the response o f the users i n 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 o f W E , for the active social life o f the E d X prototype, for the reform o f one small instance o f teacher education. Every technical change or modification with the portals was an attempt to both increase the participation o f 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 o f their mentoring groups; access to resources to broaden or focus the discussions and to examine multiple models o f teaching with technologies).  120  In the final phase, when E d X stopped or concluded with little participation by its intended users, particularly b y the mentors, I had to turn my attention back to the portals and their infrastructure. A s the majority o f mentors were blaming the tool for their lack o f 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 m y stances onto the project and not privilege one over the other(s). In this chapter, I retrace the historical phases o f 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, P K P - V a n S u n , to retrace the methodological orientations o f 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 o f 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 i n developing professionally; an understanding o f technology, particularly its usability, its degree o f user-centred design, is often missing from these fields. Conversely, many i n 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 i n its user interface is referred to as usability research. Usability is a well-accepted approach to information system development that typically includes testing prototypes i n use settings. In usability studies, researchers study the "fits" between design techniques o f artifacts and the psychological characteristics o f 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 o f technology for technology's sake as a design principle, instead, usability researchers work to increase the development o f usability or effective, user-friendly, simple, error-less design (see K i m Vicente, 2004). W o r k i n g 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 m y use o f the term research-designers (or design-researchers). The method plans for P K P ' s usability worked well i n the sense that our prototypes demonstrated to funding agencies that we had technical contributions to make i n 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 P K P - V a n S u n both exist and open-access, internet-sourced knowledge can be accessed.  122  Some o f the usability challenges in building P K P - V a n S u n (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 o f text on the homepage; making the cross-indexing o f 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 o f 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 i n constant interplay i n 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 o f C I T E or the broader assignments for the N E T T L field studies). Usability studies recognize that social practices i n digital environments and technological design are mutually constituted. W o r k i n g i n 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 o f values, o f 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 i n usability studies: the focus is on the system designers and how they can approach design to enhance ease o f use by any abstract, generalized, anonymous user as is often the case i n 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 o f users (Preece, 2000). Design problems become harder, messier and more realistic as more networks, interconnections, and chains o f association between people, tools and practices are considered and attended to in a prototype's design. A technological innovation may look good i n screen shots by the design team, and yet turn out to be problematic, disconnected, or incomplete in actual settings o f implementation with the intended end-users. When researchdesigners 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 ' D a y & Nardi, 2003). A nagging validity issue with usability as a design methodology to produce usercentred technologies (and an ongoing consideration with any user-centred research) is the question o f 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 o f decision is basically unavailable to the users? Usually, the answer given is i n the amount o f use o f the prototype  124  by the users. If there were an established number o f hits and access measures that merit the label o f successful use , then usability w i l l have achieved its purpose. Or, i n other words, the 53  issue o f achieving a greater user-centred method is negligible i n importance i f the results are high-use measures. The strength o f 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 o f 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 o f 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 o f 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 o f use provides the user, rather than spend the majority o f 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 P K P 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 i n its very name and design. After the first P K P - V a n S u n 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. W e 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 o f 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 o f proposal, review, and revision i n working with the end-users or participants o f E d E x [EdX] to design a variety o f formats, processes, and methods that w i l l meet the needs and interests o f 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 o f use, • greater levels o f participation, • greater levels o f satisfaction and increased learning than with other models and sites, with all o f this captured by a series o f email surveys applied over time.  126  A t the outset, the preliminary idea o f a P A R methodology for the P K P projects seemed eminently sensible: use iterative participatory design o f 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 i n design, be developed to match participants' needs by offering, motivating, and assisting the teacher-users to participate i n and decide the development o f 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 o f P A R for portals, action research is fundamentally about emergent meanings o f both design/usability actions and prototype research, as well as an evaluation o f the relationships between them. Evaluation or review o f the use and effectiveness o f the portal is a constant concern informing the methodology o f the study, the design o f 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 o f research is intended to empower the participants (e.g., Schuler, 1996; Schuler & Namioka, 1993; Bishop et. al., 2001). Participants are to be actively involved i n the decision-making process as part o f 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 o f research that strives for a goal o f equal participation in a friendly, comfortable community setting (see Klinger, 2001). The initial idea o f 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 . M a k i n g external-to-the-university stakeholders, such as teachers, an integral part o f the knowledge management, knowledge generation and evaluation processes o f the portal projects, P K P was motivated to democratize educational research as much as the Internet digital medium would permit. W e believed that by inviting teachers to engage i n dialogue with the researcher-designers, they would begin to believe that their experiences i n educational technologies are important and valid. The intent was that teachers begin to realize that their local knowledge merits a valuable place i n the determination or development o f 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 K e m m i s and McTaggart (2003), " P A R has three attributes employed to distinguish it from conventional research: shared ownership o f research projects, communitybased analysis o f social problems, and an orientation toward community action" (p. 337).