CAPTURING, TRACING, AND VISUALIZING THE SPREAD OF TECHNOLOGY-ENHANCED INSTRUCTIONAL STRATEGIES
As part of a university-wide initiative on technology enhanced learning (ITEL), the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship (CNDLS) at Georgetown University funded a project that aimed to take advantage of proven instructional technology strategies such as lecture capture and online testing to integrate them in a sequence of medical education courses. As part of this project, the Principal Investigators (PIs) also expected that their innovation within the sequence of courses would potentially cascade across the curriculum. With this in mind, in addition to the project progress reports, the PIs and CNDLS decided to capture, trace, and visualize the spread and evolution of the technology-enhanced instructional strategies (lecture capture and online testing) across individuals and communities within the university as well as beyond the organization itself. The key motivator for implementing this approach was to better understand how instructional strategies spread within a higher education institution and the role that peer-to-peer learning plays.
The methodology described below highlights the elements involved in capturing, tracing, and visualizing the results.
To capture the interactions within and across communities, the research team conducted a series of one-on-one and group interviews with multiple stakeholders including faculty, staff, and students. The initial interviews were conducted with the PIs of the ITEL grant project. The approach for the interviews was open-ended focusing on eliciting stories related to the outward communication efforts of their instructional strategies. These interviews were recorded using an audio recording device. Based on these initial interviews with the PIs, the research team identified the first level actors and then conducted one-on-one interviews with those individuals to learn about whether and how they applied their new knowledge (stemming from the PI-actor interaction). Resulting audio files were coded using NVivo 10. Getting to this level of capture enabled the researchers to begin tracing and creating a network diagram visualizing the influence of TEIS (technology-enhanced instructional strategies) across individuals.
One of the key reasons for undertaking this research was to see whether and how TEIS influences organizational culture within higher education and whether this approach could be more widely implemented to serve as an evaluation method to demonstrate the richness of learning that occurs as part of a project's development and throughout its life cycle rather than simply at key points in time. The ITEL grant project is now in its second year of a three year project, and the research team has captured, traced, and visualized the changes that have occur over this time, but will continue a year after the project is over in order to gauge sustainability of the adoption of the TEIS.
The framing of this approach is based on the Art of Knowledge Exchange guide (http://wbi.worldbank.org/wbi/Data/wbi/wbicms/files/drupal-acquia/wbi/KEfull.pdf) that posits that "direct results from knowledge exchange can also influence results at the institutional and even systemic levels" (p VI). Mapping the spread of TEIS in networks offers a window into the beneficial externalities that can arise from certain single input nodes. Once inside the network, TEIS moves around without the direct need of intervention from the PIs.