E-Mail Reflection Groups as Collaborative Action Research

E-Mail Reflection Groups as Collaborative Action Research

Robert J. Redmon Jr. (Midwestern State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-106-3.ch023
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Abstract

Departmental e-mail reflection groups promise to help resolve two of the most pressing problems facing the teaching profession, finding time for meaningful, ongoing professional development (Cook, 1997) and the retention of new teachers (Reed, Reuben, & Barbour, 2006). The ultimate goal of teacher research and all other forms of professional development is learning, learning to be a better teacher. Though learning is often defined as lasting change (Driscoll, 2000), little change occurs in a vacuum. One path to professional development for teachers is personal reflection, but its power to generate meaningful change is limited by the individual teacher’s existing knowledge and experience. On the other hand, meaningful change tends to flourish in cultures defined by rich social interaction (Piirto, 1992). Though classroom teachers can and sometimes do draw inspiration and ideas from other educators (Manning, 2006), practical opportunities for this are much too rare (Selwyn, 2000).
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Introduction

Change is not always perceived to be a good thing, and change for the sake of change rarely is, especially in education. Positive and persisting change in education tends to emerge most often from thoughtful, systematic approaches to learning. A systematic approach to learning is a common definition of research. It follows then that effective professional development for educators requires a systematic approach and access to a richly interactive learning context.

Defining Research

Though the general definition of research enjoys wide acceptance, what constitutes a systematic approach does not. What then is teacher research? Is it one thing or is it many? Recognizing the complex practical realities of teacher research, MacLean and Mohr (1999) define teacher research as any inquiry conducted by teachers that is intentional, systematic, public, voluntary, ethical, and contextual.

Stagnant Momentum and Resistance to Change

The public schools suffer from a history of daunting stagnant momentum, resisting any effort to change, hanging doggedly onto centuries of tradition and precedence. Consequently, though all manner of school reform comes and goes with some regularity, what transpires in schools today is remarkably similar to what went on a hundred years ago. With the single exception of the public schools, most aspects of day to day life in 21st Century America would seem alien and be almost unrecognizable to people living a hundred years ago. Though faces change, textbooks change, buildings change, politics change, and school jargon is revised from time to time, like schools themselves, teaching evolves so slowly that it seems almost set in stone.

Though teaching evolves slowly, it does evolve and improve. However, again and again, it seems educators must relearn that all meaningful and lasting change in the public school emerges from within, from the core. At the core of the public schools is the classroom teacher. Schools are resistant to change, because teachers are resistant to change (Rusch & Perry, 1993). Only when teachers are the agents of change does real and lasting change occur in the public schools.

This chapter forwards the argument that active participation in a private e-mail discussion group can reduce teacher isolation and facilitate the growth of personal and professional relationships within content area departments in secondary schools. It also describes how active membership in an e-mail discussion group successfully transformed one such department into a reflective, supportive, self sustaining, close-knit, and collegial unit, ultimately resulting in lasting cultural, curricular, and instructional reform within the department.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Professional Learning Community: A professional development model involving classroom teachers in study groups, professional dialogues, and other collegial activities.

Stagnant Momentum: The tendency of the status quo to remain the status quo.

Reflective Conservatism: The tendency of teachers to avoid being especially reflective or analytic about their work (Zeichner,1987).

Institutionalized Isolation: Personal and professional isolation resulting from close scheduling and all consuming duties on the job.

E-Mail Reflection Group: An asynchronous, e-mail enabled discussion group formed for the purpose of collective reflection of common experiences.

Action Research: An informal, qualitative, formative, subjective, interpretive, reflective and experiential model of inquiry in which all individuals involved in the study are knowing and contributing participants (Hopkins, 1993).

Professional Dialogues: Conversations between teachers about teaching related issues.

Research: The systematic study of phenomena resulting in new knowledge, skills, or understandings.

Mentoring: A collegial relationship of advice and support provided by an expert teacher to a novice teacher.

Reflective Thinking: A purposeful, thorough consideration and critique of one’s thoughts, beliefs, and assumptions.

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Dedication
Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Foreword
Michael Beyerlein
Preface
Janet Salmons, Lynn Wilson
Acknowledgment
Janet Salmons, Lynn Wilson
Chapter 1
Frances Deepwell
In this chapter, we consider two multi-institution, multinational education research projects in Europe that used a variety of technology to... Sample PDF
E-Research Collaboration, Conflict and Compromise
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Chapter 2
Susanne Croasdaile
In the world of education, many occasions necessitate interorganizational collaboration. Geographical distance and time constraints are challenges... Sample PDF
Inter-Organizational E-Collaboration in Education
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Chapter 3
Kumiko Aoki
This chapter discusses cultural differences in educational practices of the East and West. In East Asian countries, where Confucian philosophy has... Sample PDF
Cultural Issues in Global Collaborative Education
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Chapter 4
Ken Stevens
The Internet and an expanding range of technologies have enabled small schools in rural communities in Atlantic Canada to collaborate in addressing... Sample PDF
The Development of Collaborative Structures to Support Virtual Classes in Small Schools
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Chapter 5
Christine Marrett
Information communication technologies (ICTs) have facilitated institutional collaboration in distance education. Based on the study, Institutional... Sample PDF
Experiences in Collaboration in Distance Education from the Caribbean, Looking Beyond Electronic
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Chapter 6
Neli Maria Mengalli
This chapter presents the course School Management and Technologies, and what emerged from the discourses of subjects that make it possible to... Sample PDF
Collaboration and Networks: Basis for the Management Based on Knowledge in Education
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Chapter 7
Niki Lambropoulos, Panagiotis Kampylis, Sofia Papadimitriou, Marianna Vivitsou, Alexander Gkikas
Recent rapid technological advancement has influenced communication and information management. In addition, it has facilitated collaboration, an... Sample PDF
Hybrid Synergy for Virtual Knowledge Working
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Chapter 8
Chijioke J. Evoh
The purpose of this study is to examine the dynamics of collaborative partnership involving the private sector, government, and community groups in... Sample PDF
Collaborative Partnerships and the Application of ICTs in Secondary Education in South Africa
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Chapter 9
Sandra J. Chrystal
This chapter reports on two University of Southern California collaborations that partner business communication classes with not-for-profit... Sample PDF
Technology Leverages a Community University Collaboration
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Chapter 10
Tine Köhler, Michael Berry
Internationally distributed teams (IDTs) face challenges related to the team members’ diversity and geographic dispersion. However, research on IDTs... Sample PDF
Creating Synergy for Inter-Cultural Learning
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Chapter 11
Iris C. Fischlmayr
In this chapter, factors “really” influencing virtual multicultural team work shall be described and a training design used for students and company... Sample PDF
A Training Design for Behavioral Factors in Virtual Multicultural Teams
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Chapter 12
Jennifer V. Lock, Petrea Redmond
An international online collaborative learning experience was designed and implemented in preservice teacher education classes at the University of... Sample PDF
Working Collaboratively on the Digital Global Frontier
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Chapter 13
John D. Murphy
This chapter introduces Collaboration Engineering as an approach to developing more effective collaborative sessions for interdisciplinary teams.... Sample PDF
Engineering for Interdisciplinary Collaboration
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Chapter 14
Darren Lee Pullen
Communication technology, which is not constrained by geographical boundaries, has increasingly resulted in faster and more efficient ways to... Sample PDF
Back to Basics: Electronic Collaboration in the Education Sector
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Chapter 15
Elizabeth DePoy
This chapter presents and analyzes the scholarly basis and empirical work that resulted in the development of Techscape, the application of... Sample PDF
Designing University Techscapes
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Chapter 16
Kathy Lynch, Aleksej Heinze, Eljse Scott
The barriers to global collaboration of yesteryear include country boundaries and time zones. Today, however, in a world where communication is... Sample PDF
Scholarly Collaboration Across Time Zones
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Chapter 17
Christine Aikens Wolfe, Cheryl North-Coleman, Shari Wallis Williams, Denise Amos, Glorianne Bradshaw, Toby Emert
A group of National Writing Project teachers from around the nation attended a Professional Writing Retreat in Santa Fe in 2004 and continued their... Sample PDF
Stepping into the Role of Professional Writer
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Chapter 18
Garry G. Burnett
This chapter introduces Media Synchronicity Theory as a means to examine the influence of technology use on the relationship between a... Sample PDF
Collective Identity and Learning in a Virtual Team
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Chapter 19
Janet Salmons
Social constructivism is an established educational theory based on the principle that learners and teachers co-construct knowledge through social... Sample PDF
E-Social Constructivism and Collaborative E-Learning
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Chapter 20
Jeffrey Mok
Technological artifacts such as computers and mobile electronic devices have dramatically increased our learning interactions with machines. Coupled... Sample PDF
Social and Distributed Cognition in Collaborative Learning Contexts
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Chapter 21
Qing Li
Increasingly, educators in a range of venues and institutions (e.g., K-12 schools, post secondary institutions, training facilities) are being... Sample PDF
Modeling the Model for Distributed Learning
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Chapter 22
Kathryn Dixon
This chapter is the result of an investigation into the capacity of an electronic portfolio (e-folio) to promote reflection and collaboration in a... Sample PDF
Capacity of an Electronic Portfolio to Promote Professionalism, Collaboration and Accountability in Educational Leadership
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Chapter 23
Robert J. Redmon Jr.
Departmental e-mail reflection groups promise to help resolve two of the most pressing problems facing the teaching profession, finding time for... Sample PDF
E-Mail Reflection Groups as Collaborative Action Research
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Chapter 24
Janet L. Holland
This chapter reports on a mixed study dealing with the impact of integrating student peer mentor facilitators into online discussions in an effort... Sample PDF
Integrating Student Peer Mentoring Online
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Chapter 25
Rosemarie Reynolds, Michael T. Brannick
This study examined the effect of computer-based videoconferencing and text-based chat on mentoring relationships, and compared the findings to... Sample PDF
Outcomes of Computer Mentoring
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Chapter 26
Linda L. Larson, Paul Boyd-Batstone, Carole Cox
When teachers integrate online discussions into courses, they are faced with the challenge of deciding how to evaluate the postings. This chapter... Sample PDF
Rubric to Determine a Quality Online Discussion Posting
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Chapter 27
Andre L. Araujo
Recent advances in Web-based technologies along with investments in international outsourcing and offshore locations have unquestionably increased... Sample PDF
Instrumental and Social Influences on Adoption of Collaborative Technologies in Global Virtual Teams
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Chapter 28
Kenneth David Strang
Logically, it makes sense that organizations can be successful if their employees collaborate effectively, in a synergistic manner. Economically... Sample PDF
Collaborative Synergy and Leadership in E-Business
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Chapter 29
Gilliean Lee
Recent industry and business trends can be described as shorter life cycle, increased speed to market, customizability, and a wide variety (rather... Sample PDF
Overview on Information Systems and Tools for Collaborative Enterprise: Business Impacts and Managerial Issues
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Chapter 30
Apivut Chakuthip, Yvonne Brunetto, Rod Farr-Wharton, Sheryl Ramsay
This chapter uses the structural and relational dimension of Social Capital Theory as the lens for examining the factors affecting a Small and... Sample PDF
Trust, Social Networks and Electronic Commerce Adoption
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Chapter 31
Bolanle A. Olaniran
Trust and relational development represents a critical challenge in online collaboration groups. Often the problem is attributed to several factors... Sample PDF
A Proposition for Developing Trust and Relational Synergy in International e-Collaborative Groups
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Chapter 32
Peter Rittgen
The increasing complexity of products and services encourages more and more companies to form collaborative networks. As these companies are... Sample PDF
Supporting Inter-Business Collaboration via Contract Negotiation and Enactment
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Chapter 33
Larry R. Irons
This chapter reviews research in distributed work, relating it to the way organizations manage collaboration between home-based customer support... Sample PDF
The Limits of Anytime, Anywhere Customer Support
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Chapter 34
Tobias Müller-Prothmann
Collaboration is a constitutional element of any organization. To conceptualize the organization as an evolving system of interactions means to put... Sample PDF
KMmaster® for Collaboration and Knowledge Management
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Chapter 35
Steven Jeddeloh
This essay explores ultimate team performance as experienced by veteran airline pilots working together with a common purpose. The research... Sample PDF
Ultimate Performance in a Highly Functioning Team
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Chapter 36
Theresa Rich
This case study presents the work done to develop and execute the global vision for a 24/7 matrix organization within a major multinational... Sample PDF
Globalizing a Function within a Company
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Chapter 37
R. Todd Stephens
This chapter examines the elements of the new Web 2.0 technology base and reviews the lessons learned when implementing these technologies.... Sample PDF
Integrating Web 2.0 Technologies within the Enterprise
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Chapter 38
Mairi Stewart Kershaw
This chapter details one project, “Linking for a Change” (LFC), connecting schools and public/social sector providers of education for sustainable... Sample PDF
An Evaluation of ‘Linking for a Change'
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Chapter 39
Lynn Wilson
Environmental sustainability and global climate change issues intensify the need for collaborations between scientists and policymakers. Working in... Sample PDF
Collaboration in the Service of Knowledge Co-Creation for Environmental Outcomes, Science and Public Policy
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Chapter 40
Diego Liberati
In current economic and scientific scenarios, interactions and organization models tend to be more and more oriented to flexibility of... Sample PDF
Networked Experiments in Global E-Science
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Chapter 41
Jeroen Wolbers, Peter Groenewegen, Pieter Wagenaar
The implementation of GMS (Integrated Emergency room System) in the Netherlands has had a tumultuous record. A direct consequence of the... Sample PDF
ICT to Facilitate Emergency Response in The Netherlands
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Chapter 42
Elena Corradini
This chapter discusses a project for the implementation of a digital repository in a specific context, namely a small Italian town. The latest... Sample PDF
Enhancing Collective Memory with a Community Repository
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Chapter 43
Simon Milne
This chapter examines the development and associated outcomes of two government funded projects designed to support small tourism enterprise (STE)... Sample PDF
ICT and Tourism Enterprise Collaboration in Rural New Zealand
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Chapter 44
Rubye Braye, Eric Evans
This chapter originated as a reflection of the communication between U.S. facilitators and a Rwandan host as they ecollaborated in planning... Sample PDF
2007 Leadership and Human Resources Training in Rwanda
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Chapter 45
James L. Smith
This chapter reveals the common theme three rural Minnesota communities used in their collaboration efforts in to install and deliver broadband... Sample PDF
Collaboration through Municipal Motivators
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Chapter 46
Keith Baker
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is often seen as a vehicle for organizational reform. However, the established literature on... Sample PDF
Understanding the Dialectic Relationship between Intraand Inter-Organizational Cooperation
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Chapter 47
Rakesh Biswas, Jayanthy Maniam, Edwin Wen Huo Lee, Shashikiran Umakanth, Premalatha Gopal Das
This is an illustrative process description of a collaborative project utilizing a multidisciplinary approach. The requirement for collaboration... Sample PDF
Electronic Collaboration Toward Social Health Outcomes
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Chapter 48
Beverly-Jean Daniel, April Boyington Wall
This chapter presents a case study of the process of employing technology in a project involving the development and presentation of a unique... Sample PDF
Technology Enhanced Collaborative Leadership Development
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Chapter 49
Lisa Faithorn, Baruch S. Blumberg
Complex social, economic, political and environmental challenges as well as new research areas that cut across disciplinary, institutional and... Sample PDF
Lessons Learned from the NASA Astrobiology Institute
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Chapter 50
Lynn Wilson, Janet Salmons
The concluding chapter offers the editors’ insights into the book chapters’ combined contribution. Using the editors’ Collaborative Integration... Sample PDF
Online Collaborative Integration and Recommendations for Future Research
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About the Editors
About the Contributors