Of course, how is it that I have come to make this suggestion? By having participated in both formal-traditional and exploratory scientific environments. Simply put, these insights came as a result of action, not by sitting under a tree in hopes that inspiration would merely fall from the sky. This approach, aptly defined as "Learning by Doing", is at the core of Action Research as presented by Dr. Kim. Its nuances may be better understood in comparison with two similar theories:
- Grounded Theory: Provides a formulaic method of qualitative research that seeks to produce universal conceptual theories by way of analyzing incidences. Grounded Theory is based entirely in empirical data and follows a perpetual cycle of coding data into ever more generalizable theories, which are evaluated in terms of fit, relevance, workability, and modifiability. See Grounded Theory.
- Design Based Research: Describes a research method consisting of cyclical steps of Design (from a theory), Experiment, and Redesign. See Design Based Research.
|generate new questions and hypotheses |
involve new constituencies and supporting resources
strategize new actions and enhance system designs
|apply new system changes or re-implement |
re-provide system tutorial
add/remove peripheral stimuli
|gather and analyze new qualitative and quantitative data |
interviews, observations, diaries or video recordings
document and record new phenomena, patterns or differences
|compare with early assumptions, hypotheses or findings|
Identify (new) problems and opportunities
Action theory promotes the maxim that innovation must be
Fittingly, our course session on 10/21 offered a case study in innovation, as presented by guests from the online charter school division of Edison Learning. The presenters exuded passion for education, reaching marginalized students, and expanding technology. On the one hand, they are quite innovative, particularly in the way in which they have developed a large, modular system that can be rather flexibly adapted to meet the needs of unique educational communities. Their increasing audience and diminishing attrition rates indicate that they are ever more effectively reaching students in need of additional resources (bully victims, pregnant mothers, those suffering from developmental disorders, students from poor schools, etc.). On the other hand, their paradigm still appears mired in traditional formalisms, particularly in the core lessons, which offer little freedom to explore ideas, interact creatively, or deviate in any way from the prescribed information. There was a considerable irony in their defense of this approach (albeit, primarily, to satisfy traditional school requirements) while they excitedly jumped from topic to topic while doing so! It seems that their core lessons could be (optionally) expanded to provide fora for students to explore the relevance of the information to their lives and communities, in new and innovative ways. Furthermore, 21st Century Learning skills of collaboration and communication could be better enhanced. On a promising note, their interactive discussion lounge appears to be moving in a direction where it can meet these additional learning needs.