@AERA 2012 Finding my researcher hat

Picture of stacks of men's hats

(by Small_Realm via flickr)

As I continued to attend sessions at AERA, I found myself struggling with the subtext of maintaining an “observational lens” or what may be more accurately termed an ’empirical’ perspective in research. It’s made it difficult for me to feel that I could belong to this community of researchers. I mean, I feel like a practitioner who did something interesting based on what I conceive of as best practices from my professional research & experience with some folks who were interested in what I was doing. They invited me down a path with them, doing something interesting around social media policy & practice development, allowed me to collect some data about it, and I reported out on that experience. (BTW—thank you SO much to SD 10, Arrow Lakes School District, BC, Sally McLean, Walter Posnikoff, & Nicole Suhr who supported my professional contributions & research there.) So last Friday, there I was at a table with my colleague @rfmoll presenting on the ‘findings’. Let me say that @rfmoll is much more in her element here than I. I was kind of feeling like some type of cultural minority.

This morning shifted a few things. 1) I ran into Jaimie Ashton (@j_ashton). If you don’t know Jaimie she’s a fabulous trainer for SMART Technologies. She just happened to be on the way to the session that I was looking for, “Technology Leadership for Successful Technology Integration in Education”. Jaimie’s all about getting hands-on with improving actual practice. I felt like I ran into another member of my “culture”.  (BTW whenever she’s presenting somewhere I sit in–always a new nugget to take away). 2) The aforementioned session was fabulous– on research in ed tech leadership that took comprehensive views of conditions & factors–including my current interest, policy–with definite implications/applications/takeaways for the field. 3) I made connections with Ruben Vanderlinde @ University of Ghent (some of his stuff on Mendeley)–have tweeted about his stuff–& Maurice Hollingsworth @ University of Lethbridge, AB. They are doing some very interesting work in researching successful ed tech leadership. I look forward to soaking up whatever they’ll share with me–I’ve asked for whatever they’ll share. 4) One of Ruben’s colleagues suggested that I might be interested in ‘design research’ that looks at implementing practice in the field to potentially improve the field & refine/adjust the practice implemented–yes, Yes, YES!

This is what I would like to do–identify research that presents opportunities to better our practices, policies, & processes–find somewhere they can be introduced into a context & see where it goes–to refine or redirect efforts. Rueben’s colleague suggested I read McKenny & Reeves’ work. If you have any other suggestions, comments, or directions to send me-feel free. Unlike a lot of attendees, I’m not even working on my Phd as yet–haven’t found a program/focus to commit to–but am carefully considering my options for when I do. I need what I do to be meaningful within my personal/professional framework & I believe I’m getting closer. Any virtual mentoring will be gratefully accepted!

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