A Study of the Web-Based Learning Resource Development Project: Final Report

by Alec Couros, PhD Lace Marie Brogden, PhD

for the Ministry of Education Government of Saskatchewan and Saskatchewan Instructional Development and Research Unit (SIDRU)

March 2008

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
This study was undertaken at the request of the Government of Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Education in the context of the Web-Based Learning Resources Development (WBLRD) initiative. The purpose of the study was to provide an evaluation of the WBLRD initiative’s processes and resources, as well as propose possibilities for future directions related to the development of online learning resources that support curriculum initiatives in the province of Saskatchewan. This report is divided into five sections. The first section provides an introduction and a description of the research project, including methodology and sampling procedures. The second section provides a brief historical overview of the WBLRD initiative, and the third and fourth sections, Evaluation of the WBLRD Resources and Evaluation of the WBLRD Initiative, describe the findings of the research undertaken in the evaluation process. The fifth and final section, Future Directions for the WBLRD Initiative, proposes two possible extensions of the WBLRD initiatives that relate to policy implementation and curriculum support in the province of Saskatchewan.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Research Dr. Alec Couros, Principal Investigator/Writer Dr. Lace Marie Brogden, Researcher/Writer Dr. Stephen Kemp, Researcher Jacqueline Roy, Research Assistant Project Advisor Dr. Michael Tymchak, Director, SIDRU Contracting Agency Ministry of Education, Government of Saskatchewan

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TABLE OF CONTENTS
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY...........................................................................................................................................I ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS........................................................................................................................................II INTRODUCTION.........................................................................................................................................................1 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY..............................................................................................................................................1 DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS...................................................................................................................................2 HISTORICAL OVERVIEW OF THE WBLRD INITIATIVE...............................................................................2 BEGINNINGS ..................................................................................................................................................................2 ROLE OF MINISTERIAL STAFF...........................................................................................................................................3 ROLE OF RESOURCE DEVELOPERS.....................................................................................................................................3 PROJECT SELECTION AND DEVELOPMENT CRITERIA..............................................................................................................4 PROJECT OUTCOMES.......................................................................................................................................................4 EVALUATION OF THE WBLRD RESOURCES....................................................................................................5 OVERVIEW OF THE WBLRD RESOURCE EVALUATION PROCESS...........................................................................................5 A qualitative approach to evaluating the WBLRD resources...............................................................................5 SUMMARY OF TRENDS IN WBLRD RESOURCES.................................................................................................................5 Strengths................................................................................................................................................................5 Weaknesses............................................................................................................................................................7 EVALUATION OF THE WBLRD INITIATIVE......................................................................................................8 INTENDED OUTCOMES......................................................................................................................................................8 ACTUAL OUTCOMES........................................................................................................................................................9 Professional development.....................................................................................................................................9 Capacity building................................................................................................................................................11 A FINANCIAL CAVEAT..................................................................................................................................................13 FUTURE DIRECTIONS FOR THE WBLRD INITIATIVE.................................................................................14 OPTION 1: RESURRECTION OF THE WBLRD INITIATIVE ..................................................................................................14 Recommendations for improving existing resources..........................................................................................14 OPTION 2: A CONNECTIVIST MODEL FOR DISTRIBUTIVE CURRICULUM RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT............................................15 Connectivism.......................................................................................................................................................16 Pursuing a Connectivist Model...........................................................................................................................17

Leveraging existing networks............................................................................................17 Creating a knowledge portal..............................................................................................18
CONCLUSION............................................................................................................................................................19 REFERENCES............................................................................................................................................................21 APPENDIX A..............................................................................................................................................................24 GUIDING QUESTIONS FOR SEMISTRUCTURED, OPEN INTERVIEWS....................................................24 GUIDING QUESTIONS FOR SEMISTRUCTURED, OPEN INTERVIEWS....................................................25 APPENDIX B..............................................................................................................................................................26 WBLRD RESOURCE EVALUATION RUBRIC...................................................................................................27 LEXICON....................................................................................................................................................................29

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INTRODUCTION
This report presents the findings of an evaluation of the Web-Based Learning Resource Development (WBLRD) initiative, undertaken at the request of the Government of Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Education. The study provides an evaluation of the WBLRD initiative’s resources and processes and proposes alternatives for the development of online learning resources and capacity building. Weinberger (2005, in Brogden & Couros, 2006) maintains “the digital age undoes all of these assumptions [of gatekeepers and priests of knowledge], changing the nature of knowledge and even of meaning itself. We are entering the age where to understand something is to see how it isn't what it is” (p. 1). The evaluation of the WBLRD initiative is situated within this context of participatory culture. Consequently, the data gathered during the research process is informed by the initiative’s stakeholders (ministerial staff, project developers and teachers), the data emerging from the initiative (rubric-based qualitative evaluations), and the current literature (including refereed and participatory sources). Research Methodology Grounded theory (GT) was adopted as the methodological framework used in the study. The basic tenet of GT is that theory emerges from the data or, as the name applies, theory is grounded in the data (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). As such, GT is an inductive, rather than a deductive, approach to qualitative inquiry. Given the inductive nature of the methodology, emphasis is placed on allowing themes to emerge from the data. As summarized by Couros (2006), there are several important methodological rules and assumptions in the grounded theory approach. These include the following, as adapted from Glaser and Strass (1967) and Charmaz (1990): an exhaustive literature review is not done prior to undertaking the research with a view to reducing researcher bias and allowing theory to emerge from the data • literature is reviewed continuously throughout the data collection and analysis process • participants include those who are experiencing the social process being investigated • the reporting of findings privileges descriptive language, providing the reader with the steps of the process and method • data are compared continuously with other data (constant comparison method) to detect emerging categories and themes, which further direct the data-collection process (Couros, 2006, pp. 60-61).

In view of these methodological guidelines, GT methodology was also compatible with the tools and evaluation methods selected for the evaluation of the WBLRD initiative and was found to be a suitable approach for guiding the data collection and analysis process.

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Data Collection and Analysis The following methodological tools and procedures were used in the collection of data: face-toface and digitally mediated interviews, digital voice recordings, interview transcriptions, resource-evaluation rubrics, member-checking, and data coding. As data emerged during the research project, snowball sampling was found to be effective in identifying key stakeholders. In snowball sampling, researchers identify a small number of individuals who have the characteristics in which they are interested. These people are then used as informants to identify, or put the researchers in touch with, others who qualify for inclusion. (Cohen, Manion, & Morrison, 2000, p. 104) An initial group of Ministry of Education employees and WBLRD resource teacher-developers were interviewed using a semistructured, open interview format (Kvale, 1999). A list of the guiding questions for the interviews is included in Appendix A. Subsequently, based on the snowball sampling process, research leads were provided, enabling the research team to conduct face-to-face and digitally mediated interviews with a variety of WBLRD participants (including those involved in project coordination, resource development, and classroom implementation of WBLRD resources). Interviews were digitally recorded and the audio was professionally transcribed. Transcriptions were checked for accuracy by replaying the recordings while reading the written text. Several changes were made to the text, including names of respondents and other identifying markers (to ensure anonymity of respondents), and educational terms such as Evergreen and wikis were clarified. Member-checks were undertaken with respondents as required. Transcriptions were subsequently analyzed to identify the research themes.

HISTORICAL OVERVIEW OF THE WBLRD INITIATIVE
This section provides a brief historical overview of the WBLRD initiative. More specifically, it includes a description of the genesis and development of the initiative, the role of stakeholders, the project selection criteria, and the intended project outcomes through 2007. Beginnings In the late 1990s, Canada adopted the Connectedness Agenda (Government of Canada, 2000). The best known, broad-based technology in education initiative stemming from the Industry Canada sponsored Connectedness Agenda was that of Canada’s SchoolNet, featuring GrassRoots projects.

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On March 30, 1999, through the efforts of Canada's SchoolNet — a partnership of federal, provincial and territorial governments, education associations and the private sector — Canada became the first nation in the world to connect its public schools and libraries to the Information Highway. (Government of Canada, 2000, p. 4) Given Industry Canada’s emphasis on connectedness, access, and networks, school divisions began developing online curriculum content. In this climate, Saskatchewan Learning (now the Ministry of Education) supported central development of technology-enhanced, curriculum resources in what was to become the WBLRD initiative. “The whole idea was to provide electronic resources so that school divisions could deliver online courses. That was the initial idea … [and Saskatchewan Learning] was to provide direction on the content” (Respondent 2, p. 1). From a chronological standpoint, the development of projects can be seen to have preceded the formalizing of the WBLRD initiative. In the first year of development, Ministry staff worked to facilitate, through financial and curricular support, initial development of learning resources, with teachers acting as the main project developers. It wasn’t until some projects had been developed and ongoing support for further development had been identified, that the initiative came to be named. As the eventual WBLRD title implies, however, consistent throughout the initiative – from inception onward – was the goal of developing web-based learning resources connected to Saskatchewan curriculum objectives and using the pedagogical expertise of practicing teachers to produce ICT resources. As the WBLRD initiative evolved, consistent parameters for project development were established, leading to a total of 187 projects developed over a period of seven academic years, from 2000-2001 to 2006-2007 at a total cost of $7,457,000. Role of Ministerial Staff Over the 7 years of the project, four people were involved as online learning consultants, coordinating the initiative at the Ministerial level. From 2003-2004 onward, a parallel structure in coordination was established, based on the two languages of development, English and French. The English projects were initially coordinated through the Learning Technology Unit and, subsequently, through the Curriculum and e-Learning Branch. From 2003 onward, the French projects were coordinated by the Direction de l’éducation française (DEF, formerly the Official Minority Language Office). In addition to project coordination undertaken by the online learning consultants, curriculum consultants from the Ministry were integral in supporting the work of resource developers. Role of Resource Developers The roles undertaken by WBLRD resource developers ranged from actual, hands-on experience with design and development, to facilitation and supervision, to collaboration with other developers. It is important to emphasize that the vast majority of developers responsible for

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creating the WBRLD resources were Saskatchewan teachers. In addition to classroom teachers, some school division technology consultants and technicians were also involved in the production of the WBLRD resources. The professional development and capacity building benefits of the initiative (see the “Evaluation of the WBLRD Initiative” section of this report) were realized because of the large number of teachers involved in creating WBLRD resources throughout the province. A substantial portion of the funds related to the WBLRD initiative were allocated to release time for resource developers. Developers were provided release time from their classroom duties, in amounts ranging from 25 to 100%. Models of release time varied, depending on the resource development projects (some developers worked largely independently, others worked in school division teams), with release time schedules varying from a one-period-a-day-per-semester model to a full-time release for one semester, or, in the case of elementary school teachers, fulltime release for one-half an academic year. Project Selection and Development Criteria Initially, projects were internally selected by ministerial staff. As the initiative grew and became known as the WBLRD, two additional processes were used to identify resource development priorities. From 2001-2003, Saskatchewan Learning staff members worked with Directors of Education from various school divisions throughout the province as a way to both involve school divisions more directly in the initiative and to solicit school division input in the selection of projects. This ad-hoc consortium operated for 2 years and was a forerunner of the Educational Technology Consortium (ETC). In December 2000, Saskatchewan Learning created the Saskatchewan Education Technology Consortium (ETC) – a partnership between all major educational institutions in the province’s K-12 sector. The initiative aimed to develop a vision for e-learning, expand e-learning resources, support and improve e-business requirements, and provide professional development opportunities for all school division staff. (Microsoft Dynamics, 2007, p. 1) From 2003-2007, ETC was “responsible for facilitating the preK-12 educational partners (STF, LEADS, SASBO, School Boards and Saskatchewan Learning) to work together on behalf of all school divisions to support teaching and learning with technology in Saskatchewan” (Government of Saskatchewan: Education, 2007, p. 1). Its scope included the coordination of a number of educational technology initiatives, including those of the WBLRD. Project Outcomes As previously mentioned, a total of 187 projects were developed over the seven-year period of the WBLRD initiative. In addition to curriculum resource development spanning all grade levels (K-12) and multiple subject areas (resources were developed in either English or French), professional development and capacity building were also identified as tangible outcomes of the

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initiative. These outcomes are further explained in the section of the report entitled “Evaluation of the WBLRD Initiative.”

EVALUATION OF THE WBLRD RESOURCES
The study of the WBLRD initiative included a comprehensive evaluation of learning resources generated during the 7 academic years of the initiative. As indicated in the historical overview, a total of 187 projects were completed from the 2000-2001 academic year to the 2006-2007 academic year. Consequently, this section of the report focuses on the results of research undertaken to evaluate the resources and includes summary observations related to the strengths and weaknesses of the existing resources. Overview of the WBLRD Resource Evaluation Process The learning resources developed as a result of the WBLRD initiative were found to be of varying quality and functionality. For the purposes of providing representative data related to the said quality and functionality, one quarter of all the resources – 47 projects – were evaluated using an evaluation rubric (see Appendix B) and focused on the following criteria: content (including the accuracy and quality of content, curriculum links, and attention to appropriate use of technology) • teacher friendly-ness (including ease of use, adaptability, and sequencing) • authorship and social affordances (including terms of use, author/school division affiliations and the potential for additional content generation) • technical quality (including navigation and design issues, system requirements and visual presence) • innovative and creative approaches to content delivery.

A qualitative approach to evaluating the WBLRD resources Although a quantitative approach to data analysis would not normally require the evaluation of such a large percentage of the total sites (47 of 183 projects [25.68%]), such approaches apply to statistical analysis and would not necessarily have provided sufficiently rich data for the purposes of this qualitative research endeavour. Although many of the findings were recurring, the large sample size of the resource evaluation phase of this research is attributed to the scope of the research itself. Attention was paid to evaluating resources from all grade levels and from as many curriculum content areas as possible, and this, in both English and French. Summary of Trends in WBLRD Resources Strengths Overall, the WBLRD resources were found to have explicit connections to Saskatchewan curriculum objectives and goals. Most projects contained hyperlinks to specific curriculum

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objectives and, in almost all cases, the resource materials were found to be grade- and ageappropriate. Approximately 20% of resources evaluated (10 of 47) were found to be of high quality, creatively designed and engaging, with comprehensive curriculum content which was directly linked to curriculum objectives and goals. These top-ranked resources also incorporated a variety of interactive, multimedia components. Across the total sample of resources evaluated, the following trends were identified as positive attributes, or strengths, of the WBLRD resources: pedagogical approaches aligned to curriculum objectives several projects incorporated resource-based learning principles and activities within each resource or online course, curriculum links and/or objectives for learning activities were almost always listed • whether designed as a complete course (suitable to online delivery or distance education contexts) or designed as a unit of study, the WBLRD resources included a variety of strategies, lesson plans, student activities, helpful hints, and associated resources directly linked to Saskatchewan curriculum guides • lesson plans, when present, were “teacher friendly” and practical • overall, the instructional design was sound – projects were well organized and conceptualized, with bright and appealing visual design, effective utilization of multimedia (Flash movies, audio, animation, etc.), and many incorporated interactive elements, including links to a variety of supplemental online resources • while all of the resources evaluated were teacher oriented, many also contained student activities which could be completed online • worksheets, rubrics, and other downloadable material was of good quality and easy to reproduce and most activities and pedagogical materials were available in a variety of formats for accessible downloading or printing • appropriate language conventions (this characteristic was more consistent in the English resources than in the French) • the quality and detail of the resources implies much time and effort were involved in their development (a finding further substantiated by interview data).
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Some of the WBLRD resources were found to be exemplary, exploiting a variety of ICTs such as video, audio, interactive online activities, and webquests to present information and enhance the overall impact of the resources. These exemplary cases represent technology-enhanced learning at its best: learning activities that are enriched by technology, not simply text resources represented in electronic format. Three WBLRD resource exemplars are: 1. CyberCircuit Central (English, 3-6, multidisciplinary): http://www.saskschools.ca/curr_content/cyber/ Overview. This resource offers a fresh, novel approach to elementary and middle-years learning. It features three CyberCircuits, interactive learning objects that invite students to explore core learning objectives of various Saskatchewan curriculum units. The

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CyberCircuit topics are Solar Systems (Grade 3), Saskatchewan’s Natural Resources (Grade 5) and Body Image and Nutrition (Grade 6). Each circuit leads students on an interactive and engaging web-based adventure. The site also offers helpful and concise unit information for teachers, including extension activities. 2. Sciences humaines 8 (French Immersion, 8, Social studies): http://www.defl.ca/~jtonita2/ Overview. This resource provides a wide array of information for students and teachers related to the Grade 8 French Immersion social studies curriculum. Activities are included for all four units of the program: culture, citizenship, identity, and interdependence. The website features comprehensive sections for both teachers and students related to each proposed learning activity. In addition, the content could be easily adapted to fit other middle-years’ social studies themes and/or grade levels. 3. Multiple Intelligences (English, K-12, multidisciplinary) http://www.saskschools.ca/curr_content/SESDmultint/index.html Overview. This resource contains 13 thematic units designed around the eight multiple intelligences espoused by Howard Gardiner. In addition, interactive resources are provided for the Grade 4 weather unit (Science), as well as for Grades 9-11 Native Studies. This is an outstanding resource that provides activities, extension projects utilizing a variety of modalities, incorporation of multimedia, teaching resources, hints and numerous hyperlinks to resources external to the WBLRD. Weaknesses The main weaknesses identified in the WBLRD resources were link rot (broken or outdated links) and poor language quality (especially French resources). Although the WBLRD home page states resources are being “evergreened,” the evergreen explanation page is dated 2006. Furthermore, few resources seem to have been evergreened (around 25% of those evaluated) and of those that have been updated, many have not necessarily been updated since initially evergreened in 2006. However, recently posted or updated resources (2006 onward) were found to have more appropriate and consistent uses of ICTs. Overall, the French WBLRD resources were found to be of inferior quality to the English resources in terms of content, presence of curriculum links, integration of technology and language quality. Approximately half of all French resources evaluated were ranked lowest among reviewed projects. French projects tended to use less technology, be less clearly organized, were limited in their variety (e.g., overrepresentation of high school science relative to the total number of available French resources) and had poorer language quality than their English counterparts. Interview data revealed that, due to difficulties in providing release time, a limited number of resource developers were available to work on French language resources within the WBLRD initiative.

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In English, the number of resources increases with grade level; that is, there are many more Grade 6-9 resources than K-5 resources and many more Grade 10-12 resources than those for the intermediate level. Although there are English resources available for all grade levels, Physical Education, Health Education and Arts Education were found to be underrepresented areas of study, particularly at the K-5 level. In both English and French, many of the weaker resources could be enhanced by the addition of relevant ICTs (such as audio or video clips, interactive flash activities, online demonstrations, etc.) as a means of enhancing student learning. Many resources still favour a largely text-based mode. Across the total sample of resources evaluated, the following trends were identified as areas in need of improvement, or weaknesses, of the WBLRD resources: resource menus were not designed to facilitate easy navigation some websites haven’t been modified for 2 or more years (as many as 6 years in some cases), and contain link rot and outdated information • many downloadable worksheets and rubrics could not be easily modified by the enduser • inconsistent authorship attribution (particularly for images and multimedia clips) • copyright/acceptable use information difficult to discern • content was often static with little or no interactive, collaborative or user-generated features (e.g., discussion boards, chat or wikis) • some resources were found to be solely text based (i.e., online versions of written lesson plans and activity sheets that do not exploit ICTs).
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In summary, some websites are rendered almost useless because of outdated links or, in the case of French, because of poor language quality. Many of these weaknesses could be addressed with a minimal investment of time and financial resources, especially as compared to the cost of developing completely new resources. These are important considerations, particularly given the time, effort and financial investment put into the original development of the resources. Possibilities for the improvement of existing resources are discussed in the “Future Directions for the WBLRD Initiative” section of this report.

EVALUATION OF THE WBLRD INITIATIVE
This section of the report provides an evaluation of the processes adopted during the 7 years of the WBRLD initiative. Descriptions of intended and actual outcomes of the initiative are provided. Throughout the section, representative quotations are highlighted and reflect the broad themes that emerged from the interview data. Intended Outcomes

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Data gathered during the evaluation process indicated the initial purpose of the WBLRD initiative was to develop web-based learning resources. Developing ICT-enabled content relevant to Saskatchewan curricula was the primary, stated focus of the initiative. The WBLRD content’s host site (Central iSchool) provides the following information about the project. These Web-Based Resources have been developed by classroom teachers from various school divisions, working with help from Saskatchewan Learning as part of the WebBased Learning Resource Development (WBLRD) initiative. This initiative is funded by the Saskatchewan Educational Technology Consortium. Resource development is supported by Saskatchewan Learning. The majority of the resources support instruction using Saskatchewan K-12 curricula. A number of the resources have been developed to support teacher professional development. There are both English-language and Frenchlanguage resources available. (Government of Saskatchewan: Education, 2007, pp. 1-2) The information on the host site was found to be incomplete. It was difficult to ascertain any set purpose, goal or mission from the information provided. Digital authorship conventions demand more information about the purposes and intent of a given web site be included on the home or summary page. An exemplary, contemporary example is that of MIT OpenCourseWare (http://ocw.mit.edu/OcwWeb/web/about/about/index.htm), which includes clear, concise statements related to purpose, scope and authorship. The lack of publicly accessible, historical documentation of the WBLRD initiative was problematic. Actual Outcomes While the development of online learning resources (detailed in the previous section of this report) was identified as the initial intention of the WBRLD initiative, data revealed the actual outcomes of the project included two additional perceived benefits of equal and, in some cases, greater importance to stakeholders than the resources themselves. These additional benefits were (a) professional development of teachers and (b) capacity building at the school division and classroom levels. Professional development Although official documentation does not indicate professional development as an intended goal of the WBRLD initiative, interview data revealed this to be the most significant perceived benefit. The following question was posed to interview respondents to elicit comments on the professional development benefits of the project.
There has been some feedback that the WBLRD provided positive learning and professional development opportunities for teachers. Would you agree or disagree? Why?

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The interview data revealed strong agreement that the WBLRD initiative provided positive learning and meaningful professional development opportunities for teachers. The following quotes provide a sample of the perceived benefits of professional development related to the initiative. Well, I think the whole concept was, certainly for me, it was a great experience and it gave me the opportunity to do things I never would have had an opportunity to do otherwise. The PD alone ... was outstanding1. (Respondent 10, p. 6) Absolutely. Because I use the skills that I gained through that experience also into my grass roots work that I did and then in the grass roots work that I did [when] I was working directly with other teachers… as I became more comfortable with the technology… I was able then to work with a large number of people. So I think that was extremely positive. (Respondent 13, p. 4) It brought me out of the division, put me in contact with a whole range of other teachers and other divisions so I could see what they were doing and talk to them about the developments in technology in their division. Oh, and to me I think Sask Learning has had a tendency to overlook that. I think it's the most significant value for the whole WBLRD Project. (Respondent 22, p. 3) So that was a very critical part to the whole experience is being able to have that network of people and trying to figure out how to do things and do things as efficiently as you could do them. (Respondent 10, p. 2) Yeah. Yeah. If you ask me what the primary development for me was and I would, it sounds very trite to say it, but I would definitely say it was the most significant professional experience in my teaching career in the sense that it changed, and I think [my colleagues] would also agree, I talked to them about it before, I know they would. (Respondent 22, p. 2) While positive professional development revealed itself as a strong narrative in the interview data, there were some countervoices critiquing the said narrative. Specifically, a small number of respondents raised the question as to whether or not the WBLRD initiative was nothing more than “expensive PD” because of the costs relative to the number of people involved and the lack of means for tracking the use of WBLRD resources by classroom teachers. Overall, the professional development benefits were found to be a strength of the initiative. Furthermore, respondents’ observations about the professional development benefits of the WBLRD initiative correspond with current literature on professional development in the digital age, that is, organized, thoughtful, sustainable and on-going (Brogden & Couros, 2007; Honey, McMillan Culp & Spielvogel, 2005; Loveless, DeVoogd & Bohlin, 2001). The fluid, rapidly evolving nature of ICT initiatives and technical requirements mean professional development products become rapidly outdated; it is, therefore, important to value the processes and abilities required through professional development, as well as the capacity building potential of
1

Italicized text indicates the participants’ verbal responses.

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professional development experiences. As summarized in the following quote, in the area of professional development, the WBLRD initiative can be viewed as a success. It was one of the most remarkable professional development opportunities because it had all of the features of professional development that you want, that it’s project based and it’s sustained and it’s long term and you have results, so every dollar we spent developed capacity and developed resources. (Respondent 9, p. 3) Capacity building In addition to the benefits related to professional development, capacity building was also identified as an important outcome of the WBLRD initiative. The following question was posed to interview respondents to elicit comments on perceived capacity building benefits.
Do you feel that you benefited from being involved with the WBLRD? Why or why not?

In general, resource developers indicated enthusiastic support for the initiative and capacity building benefits realized at the personal level. To a lesser extent, they also identified capacity building benefits of the initiative at the school, school division, and provincial level. I feel much more confident just with basic computer skills. I thought I was fairly decent with computers before but . . . [there are] things that I can do now that I wasn't able to do before. I’m in the process right now of developing an online course for our school division which I would have never dreamed of before. I'm also, I think, a better consumer of web materials. (Respondent 21, p. 3) I think the philosophy was to involve people to have them share and so in each school and in each school division or in each geographic region, at least there is someone who has some expertise . . . . So I think the model was good for what I think it was intended to do. (Respondent 10, p. 4) Most developers indicated skill development was the most important benefit. In addition, most indicated they continue to use the skills they acquired during their involvement in the WBLRD initiative in their current practice. Yeah. I would say, going in, my skills were minimal in terms of creating web resources, working in HTML, and doing those kinds of things. And so, over the course of both the development and the teaching online, which I was doing at the same time, I developed a whole host of skills that I never had in my traditional classroom teaching experiences. (Respondent 10, p. 2) From an e-learning perspective, it was invaluable because, again, things were pretty new at that time and we really focused on creating a product for the students. So, of course, now in my job where I’m coordinating e-learning, I have a good sense of what the developers have to go through, the amount of work involved, and I kind of have a decent sense of what works and what doesn’t. (Respondent 8, p. 3)

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A less common theme identified by resource developers was that of benefits in terms of an increased understanding and appreciation for curriculum development and organization. However, this theme was prominent in the data provided by online learning consultants. Comments from online learning consultants suggest ministerial staff perceived benefits in the increased understanding of provincial curricula for the developers involved in the initiative. So benefits – I really thought very deeply about what the program was, what [my subject area] entailed, what were the basics that we had to get across, how could we make extensions so that it would fit lots of different people? We had to figure out how to take a subject that was primarily done as a face-to-face with personal interaction and turn it on to something that you could do through online, independent learning and that was a real struggle. It was really interesting to learn about that, to figure it out, to solve that problem. (Respondent 14, p. 3) To the people directly involved, it gave them great understanding of curriculum … it really brought it to life. (Respondent 2, p. 2) The social capital of those involved in the project was also seen to have increased. Several respondents indicated a perceived connection between their involvement in the WBLRD initiative and subsequent career transitions to leadership positions (e.g., Educational Technology Coordinator/Consultant positions at the school division level). Indeed, the said respondents often felt the WBLRD initiative was the catalyst for their own involvement in educational technology and provided the context for their new roles and responsibilities within their school divisions. I think I'm here today, in this position that I have, largely as a result of what I learned through that process and the technical skills that came out of it. The understanding that I had naturally became a part of what I did every day. So the skills were easily transferable, [they] became important to me in more than just the development of the online resources. (Respondent 13, p. 3) To my mind, I think the encouragement and development of technology expertise in the teachers of the province was a benefit that wasn't foreseen and it far overshadows the strictly day-to-day provision of resources aspect of the program. (Respondent 22, pp. 3-4) What we found, though, is that it – and we worked with hundreds of teachers so we developed capacity – and so when you go around the school divisions, you often find the tech coordinators and the people in leadership now were people who at one time were project developers or classroom teachers who had that opportunity of spending half a year thinking about technology and thinking about the curriculum and thinking about ways of doing stuff. (Respondent 9, p. 3) In summary, capacity building, as professional development, was found to be an unanticipated, positive outcome of the WBLRD initiative. Residual benefits, such as distributed leadership and ongoing personal learning, continue to be realized subsequent to the formal completion of the initiative. As explained by Stephen Downes (2007),

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Colin Milligan (JISC) believes PLEs [Personal Learning Environements] ‘would give the learner greater control over their learning experience (managing their resources, the work they have produced, the activities they participate in) and would constitute their own personal learning environment, which they could use to interact with institutional systems to access content, assessment, libraries and the like.’ The idea behind the personal learning environment is that the management of learning migrates from the institution to the learner. (p. 19) Although difficult to measure quantifiably, these capacity benefits are evident in the qualitative research data gathered during the course of the evaluation and are likely to continue to provide benefits in the province, as pertains to both curriculum actualization and technological innovation in years to come. A key piece of what we tried to accomplish in our WBLRD initiative [was] building connections with teachers and among teachers, both because the connections were important of themselves and because we believed that learning and growing is better fostered within a supportive and collegial relationship. (Respondent 20, p. 10) A Financial Caveat From inception, Saskatchewan Learning committed human, financial and technological resources to supporting the WBLRD initiative. Given this investment, a recurring theme from the data that cannot be overlooked was that of the questions raised as to the value of the initiative relative to the financial investment. In colloquial terms, “was it money well spent?” Most developers interviewed agreed that the goal of providing digital resources to Saskatchewan teachers was not fully realized. The following excerpts reflect tensions around the costs associated with the initiative: Ultimately, what did we want to produce for students and teachers and what did it cost? And, of course, you have to factor in the professional development component, too, because that’s a benefit to teachers . . . . So I don’t know. I can’t really honestly say if it’s worth it, but my gut instinct is … that’s a hell of a lot of resources that could have been developed, maybe more effectively if there was more direction and guidance. (Respondent 8, p. 10) Those resources were used in classrooms and were used in many cases in distance education, and still are. And so we really tied a lot of stuff together and we supported, at that time, the existing curriculum. (Respondent 9, pp. 3-4) Oh, definitely. Matter of fact, that's one area that I think the WBLRD projects were outstanding but, if you're gonna measure the success, you could set up a counter on the website and say how many hits did such and such a project get? And I guess that's one measure but I don't think very many people look at the WBLRD projects as a staff development initiative and I think they should be. (Respondent 22, p. 2)

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So, for me, I think that it was a waste of my time, not a waste of my time, but it didn’t benefit me anyways in terms of courses available, but the skills that I did pick up are gonna help. Like I’m a phys ed teacher now, so I’m not using a lot of online resources for teaching phys ed … so that in the sense of me picking up skills that we did while we prepared the project was nice but, professionally, I don’t see a gain just yet. (Respondent 6, p. 3) For sure. So it's money that I think was well-spent because you know, other people are getting back from that as well. So when I do the PD at our sessions there's another 30 people that are gaining a piece of this. (Respondent 10, p. 7) It should be noted that the majority of expenditures associated with the initiative were related to release time for teachers who worked as resource developers. What may seem to be a substantial investment of total dollars may be viewed differently when the human resource component is taken into consideration. Based on the data collected in the study, although the usability of some of the resources produced during the course of the initiative remains contested, the unanticipated benefits of professional development and capacity building are value-added features with tremendous, lasting benefits to Saskatchewan’s educational community.

FUTURE DIRECTIONS FOR THE WBLRD INITIATIVE
This section focuses on future directions flowing from the WBLRD initiative. Based on research data, two viable options are proposed for continuation, renewal, or revisioning of future learning resource-centred initiatives. The first option focuses on resurrecting the existing WBLRD initiative’s learning resources and development processes. The second, more innovative option, proposes a connectivist model for distributive curriculum resource development. Option 1: Resurrection of the WBLRD Initiative This option proposes a continuation and renewal of the existing WBLRD initiative, modified to respond to weaknesses revealed in the evaluation process, to ongoing support of Saskatchewan curriculum, and to new technological capabilities. This option is based on the assumption of limited human and financial resources. In terms of innovative curriculum leadership and emerging technologies, it is the lesser preferred of the two options. Recommendations for improving existing resources Following a thorough review of the WBLRD initiative, it is recommended that, with a minimal investment of time and money, the majority of the resources could be refreshed and enhanced to complement the various online resources available to Saskatchewan teachers and teachers around the world. Although some resources are out of date and would be better archived or removed from the site, most were found to be in need of limited repairs, suffering from only minor technical problems (e.g., broken links) or a need for linguistic edits. These resources require review and assessment to identify changes, updates and modifications needed to bring

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them up-to-date and in line with the various curriculum initiatives that have been made in recent years. As was revealed in the analysis of the current WBLRD resources, any collection of online learning resources, should, at a minimum, be frequently reviewed and updated to reflect new knowledge, current events, and for general maintenance of their technology-related features. The following activities should be considered for maintaining currency (both content and technology): include two-way links with official curriculum documents (from the resources to the curriculum, and to the resources from the curriculum itself) • update resources to ensure they are concurrent with new provincial curriculum policy and initiatives • use statistical analysis software (e.g., Google Analytics) to track and report traffic patterns related to use of the resources • provide secure funding that supports resource maintenance.

In addition to these maintenance and renewal activities, it is recommended that the adoption of Option 1 include a strategic approach to marketing existing and future WBLRD resources. The interview data indicated that it is generally hard to discern use (uptake) of the WBLRD resources. Although there were several instances of developers receiving provincial, national and international correspondence regarding their resources, in general, developers were unsure as to whether or not the resource had been used by other educators. Unless you physically track that, there’s no way you know what people out there are doing. But, you’ll get e-mails from time to time saying ‘Can I use this?’ or ‘Do you know this error?’ So people out there are doing something with it. (Respondent 10, p. 3) I actually got contacted with the San Francisco Opera Educational Society I think they were called. Yeah, they wanted to use our site for some stuff that they were doing. (Respondent 14, p. 3) I do think that would be wonderful to have some way of bringing these resources to people's attention and awareness … but not through one central repository. (Respondent 13, p. 8) Currently, the resources are perceived to be underutilized due to limited exposure in the field. If the WBLRD initiative is to continue, a marketing strategy is essential and greater attention should be paid to promoting availability of the resources. Option 2: A Connectivist Model for Distributive Curriculum Resource Development The second, and preferred option, proposes paradigmatic break from current practices. This option reflects current and emerging views of the generation, management, and distribution of knowledge in the digital age. In the words of Jean Baudrillard (2000/2003), “the rules of the game are changing, but it is no longer we who set them. That is the destiny of a culture: our

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own” (p. 52). This paradigm shifts the focus from creating content, or knowledge management (KM), to privileging processes and connections. As explained by Stewart Mader (2007), Because of the emphasis on content, KM tools haven’t focused on connecting people naturally with as few boundaries as possible. Human intelligence and behavior is pattern-based, but KM systems are centered around the workflow… Early KM systems tried to treat tacit knowledge (stored in peoples’ heads) as something that could be extracted and turned into explicit knowledge (written down), and then turned back into tacit knowledge simply by another person reading it. The idea behind this approach was that peoples’ knowledge could be fed into the system, and housed completely separate from the people themselves for reuse by others. (p. 44) Further, Mader (2007) argues the KM model “doesn’t make sense in both a behavioral and practical context because it runs counter to natural patterns of human interaction” (p. 43). Connectivism Connectivism, a learning theory popularized by George Siemens (2005), offers a way of responding to the challenge of a distributed knowledge paradigm. The theory combines relevant elements of several learning theories, existing and emerging social structures, and technology to create a powerful construct for collaborative learning and sharing in the digital age. Connectivism is the integration of principles explored by chaos, network, and complexity and self-organization theories. Learning is a process that occurs within nebulous environments of shifting core elements…. Connectivism is driven by the understanding that decisions are based on rapidly altering foundations. New information is continually being acquired. The ability to draw distinctions between important and unimportant information is vital. The ability to recognize when new information alters the landscape based on decisions made yesterday is also critical. (Siemens, 2005) Principles of connectivism that are most relevant to Option 2, that is, a connectivist model for distributive curriculum resource development, include: learning and knowledge rests in diversity dynamic learning is a process of connecting “specialized nodes” (people or groups), ideas, information and digital interfaces • “capacity to know more is more critical than what is currently known” • fostering and maintaining connections is critical to knowledge generation • a multidisciplinary, multilitracy approach to knowledge generation is a core tenet of connectivism • Decision-making is both action and learning; “Choosing what to learn and the meaning of incoming information is seen through the lens of a shifting reality.” (Adapted from Siemens, 2005)
• •

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A connnectivist approach acknowledges the complexities of knowledge management in learning organizations. Knowledge networks facilitate widescale knowledge generation, sharing, and collaboration. Further, such networks, operating within the connectivism paradigm, promote capacity building. Given the perceived benefits of the WBLRD initiative, and the expressed interest in pursuing meaningful mechanisms for resource sharing and curriculum actualization, this paradigm is judged a good fit for Saskatchewan’s educational communities. Pursuing a Connectivist Model The dominant tools used during the WBLRD initiative were HTML editors (e.g., Macromedia Dreamweaver), Macromedia Flash (a content creation tool), and FTP clients. These tools most commonly favour the development of static, noninteractive resources. Since the late 1990s, a number of user-friendly tools have emerged which make the process of web publishing easier and promote interactivity. The most prominent of these tools include blogging platforms and services (e.g., WordPress, Blogger.com), wiki software (e.g., Wikimedia, Wikispaces.com), content management systems (e.g., Drupal, Joomla), and resource sharing tools (e.g., Del.icio.us, Flickr.com). The perceived availability and ease of use of these emerging social tools was a theme identified in the transcription data, as illustrated by the following excerpt. I think what I would like to do instead is develop a series of networks through the use of some of the new online tools such as blogs and wikis in which people will begin to feel confident enough to share what they're doing and then my role is to link to those examples of good practice rather than bringing them all into one place. And I think – I'd like to think that somewhere there could be opportunities for Saskatchewan Learning to provide professional development and encourage people to do that rather than bringing it all into one place … changing the whole concept from the idea that things have to come into one place to a concept of how do we network all of these things that are out there and it's that whole Weinberger thing, you know, small pieces loosely joined - that idea rather than this big repository. (Respondent 13, p. 7) Leveraging existing networks The first step in the model is to leverage existing networks of distributed content related to Saskatchewan curriculum, teaching, and learning resources. Some teachers are already creating a number of quality, online resources for their classrooms relevant to Saskatchewan curriculum initiatives and content. Three exemplars are: Kathy Cassidy (Moose Jaw, Grades 1-2) http://classblogmeister.com/blog.php? blogger_id=1337&l=1143592742

Overview. This award-winning teacher uses blogging, podcasting and video to connect her students to create an expansive network of educational relationships. Her collaborations include partnering her elementary students with preservice university students and inviting electronic “visitors” to her class from around the world.

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Kimberley Brown (Regina, Grades 6-7) http://www.classblogmeister.com/blog.php? blogger_id=73127

Overview. Using both blog and wiki technology, this teacher collaborated with teachers from North Battleford, the United States and Lebanon to organize the “Iditarod Collaborative Project,” demonstrating ways of mediating connections across great distances through common themes and interests. Dan Schellenberg (Senior Math) http://schellenbergmath.wikispaces.com/

Overview. Using a wiki, screencasting software and interactive white boards, this teacher and his students are creating a repository of multimedia learning objects that demonstrate approaches to problem solving in mathematics. In addition to locally developed resources, a connectivist model allows for the integration of quality learning resources from beyond Saskatchewan’s borders. For example, lists of educational bloggers have been compiled by various organizations and experts in educational technology and media. One example is the Edublogosphere (http://eci831.wikispaces.com/Edublosophere), which links to educational bloggers on five continents. A list such as this serves as both example and metaphor of the opportunities for timeshifted, borderless learning opportunities and networking. In addition to the centralized approach to curriculum governance used in Saskatchewan, curriculum resource development happens, ad hoc, by teachers throughout the province. Several school divisions in the province are taking a proactive approach to providing professional development opportunities focused on social learning tools and online content development. It is important, therefore, to assist school divisions in nurturing these initiatives. Creating a knowledge portal The second step in pursing a connectivist model is to create a knowledge portal and the Ministry of Education should take a leadership role in this endeavour. The proposed portal would aggregate existing and emerging content relevant to the actualization of Saskatchewan curricula. The portal would bring together multiple types of resources (e.g., photos, images, podcasts, video, bookmarks) generated by multiple content providers. From an end-user perspective, RSS readers could be used to subscribe to the entire portal, or to create customized information flows. Search technologies should also be included to allow teachers to search for specific curriculum resources. In addition to connecting educators with content, an emphasis should be placed on facilitating common spaces for knowledge generation, management, and distribution. Social networking software can be implemented as an integral part of the knowledge portal. In these spaces, educators pursue common interests and engage in shared learning. The portal could also foster intraprovincial collaborations.

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A key consideration in implementing the knowledge portal is the development of policy to inform criteria for the identification of trusted content providers. Given past initiatives, it is likely that the Ministry will want to moderate the content flowing through the portal, assessing it for quality, appropriateness, and relevance. While such moderation can be achieved through technical measures (e.g., keyword filtering), it is recommended that the Ministry be proactive in establishing policy that would identify characteristics of trusted content providers. Through policy development, procedures could be identified (at either the school division or provincial level) to certify trusted content providers. Adopting a model of distributed content development requires trusting relationships be fostered between content developers, school divisions and the Ministry of Education. In the past, the Ministry of Education has acted as the gatekeeper of curriculum content. The proposed connectivist model for distributive curriculum resource development is not without risk. It requires a shift in both policy and practice surrounding curriculum support. Should this model be adopted, the shifting responsibilities related to policy and practice will require ongoing negotiation by stakeholders.

CONCLUSION
This report has presented information relevant to the resources and processes of the WBLRD initiative in 2007-2008, in response to the Ministry of Education’s request for a comprehensive evaluation of the initiative. In addition to reporting on the research findings, two options for the continuation, renewal, or revisioning of the WBLRD initiative were discussed. Research data revealed that while the resources created in the context of the WBLRD initiative were of varying quality, the majority of the content aligns with Saskatchewan curriculum objectives. With minimal additional investment and attention to marketing, it is believed that the WBRLD resources could continue to be useful. In addition to the evaluation of the resources, the study examined the processes and outcomes of the initiative. It was found that two major benefits of the initiative were professional development and capacity building. As summarized by one of the interview respondents, The value of that project has been returned tenfold. Perhaps not to Sask Learning, but to the community of teachers and learners in the province. And it is personalized for Saskatchewan and it is developed by teachers in Saskatchewan for our curriculum, which is not something you find in other resources around the Internet. (Respondent 22, p. 4) In theorizing possible future directions for the WBLRD initiative, two options were proposed. Option 1 proposed a continuation and renewal of the existing WBLRD initiative. Option 2 proposed a connectivist model for distributive curriculum resource development through the leveraging of existing networks and developing a knowledge portal. Based on current and emerging trends in ICT and social networking, Option 2 was recommended over Option 1.

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As other quality ICT initiatives in education, future iterations of online resource development will require “ongoing engagement, engagement that takes into account changing dynamics and never loses sight of context; that is, that never loses sight of learners and teachers, and the values and beliefs of the communities to which they belong” (Brogden & Couros, 2007, pp. 41-42).

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REFERENCES
Baudrillard, J. (2003). Passwords (C. Turner, Trans.). London: Verso. (Original work published 2000) Brogden, L. M., & Couros, A. (2006). Technology in education: A literature review. Regina, SK: University of Regina, Faculty of Education, Saskatchewan Instructional Development and Research Unit (SIDRU). Brogden, L. M., & Couros, A. (2007). Toward a philosophy of technology and education. The Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin, 73(2), 37-42. Charmaz, K. (1990). ‘Discovering’ chronic illness: Using grounded theory. Social Science and Medicine, 30(11), 61-1172. Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2000). Research methods in education (5th ed.). London: Routledge Falmer. Couros, A. V. (2006). Examining the open movement: Possibilities and implications for education. Ph.D. dissertation, The University of Regina (Canada), Canada. Retrieved March 11, 2008, from ProQuest Digital Dissertations database. (Publication No. AAT NR29183) Couros, A. V., & Brogden, L. (2006). Phase 2 feasibility study: Comprehensive virtual resourcecentre alternatives related to First Nations online learning. Regina, SK: University of Regina, Faculty of Education, Saskatchewan Instructional Development and Research Unit (SIDRU). Downes, S. (2007). Learning networks in practice [Online]. Retrieved March 22, 2007. Emerging Technologies for Learning 2 19-27 (D - Publications in Non-refereed Journals or Proceedings [invited article]) British Educational Communications and Technology Agency. Glaser, B. G., & Strauss, A. L. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. Chicago: Aldine. Government of Canada. (2000). Industry Canada Milestones 1993-2000 [Online]. Retrieved January 14, 2008, from http://www.ic.gc.ca/cmb/welcomeic.nsf/ICPages/Milestones#connectedness1 Government of Saskatchewan: Education. (2007). Curriculum & E-learning: Educational Technology Consortium [online]. Retrieved March 9, 2008, from http://www.learning.gov.sk.ca/Default.aspx?DN=ad94fbe7-c775-475e-913fdc9430892480

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Honey, M., McMillan Culp, K., & Spielvogel, R. (2005). Critical issue: Using technology to improve student achievement [Online]. Naperville, IL: North Central Regional Educational Laboratory. Retrieved July 3, 2006, from http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/methods/technlgy/te800.htm#profdev Kvale, S. (1999). The psychoanalytic interview as qualitative research [electronic version]. Qualitative Inquiry, 1, 87-113. Loveless, A., DeVoogd, G. L., & Bohlin, R. M. (2001). Something old, something new… Is pedagogy affected by ICT? In A. Loveless & V. Ellis (Eds.), ICT, Pedagogy and the Curriuclum (pp. 63-83). London: RoutledgeFarmer. Mader, S. (2007). Wikipatterns. New York: Wiley. Microsoft Dynamics. (2007, May 29). Case study: Saskatchewan Learning: Saskatchewan school boards score top marks in efficiency with new financial management system. Retrieved March 21, 2008, from http://www.microsoft.com/dynamics/casestudies/education.aspx?casestudyid=201326 Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Retrieved January 19, 2008, from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

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APPENDICES

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APPENDIX A Guiding Questions for Semistructured, Open Interviews

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Guiding Questions for Semistructured, Open Interviews
1. 2. 3. 4. Describe your role with the WBLRD. For what period were you involved? What activities were you involved in? Did you feel that benefited from being involved with the WBLRD? Why or why not? There has been some feedback that the WBLRD provided positive learning and professional development opportunities for teachers. Would you agree or disagree? Why? The WBLRD Project resulted in dozens of online resources of varying quality. What is your perception of the WBLRD as a resource that can be used in the classroom? Do you, or do you know any teachers that are, or were, actively using the resources for the classroom? Do you feel, overall, that the WBLRD initiative resulted in “money well spent”? Should a project like this continue? Is it missed? Is there a need? If the WBLRD were to be resurrected, what would it look like? Do you have any recommendations as to how a similar project could be constructed that could a) bring digital resources to teachers of the province, and simultaneously b) provide PD opportunities for teachers?

5. 6.

Additional questions used for French Interviews: 7. 8. 9. Choix de langue de travail. What do you see as the strengths and areas in need of further development specific to French language content development? If the WBLRD were to be resurrected, what would it look like? Do you have any recommendations as to how a similar project could be constructed that could bring digital resources en français to teachers of the province? What might the DEF consider doing in the way of PD to support use of further development of WBLRD resources? Autres commentaires ou observations?

10. 11.

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APPENDIX B WBLRD Resource Evaluation Rubric

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WBLRD Resource Evaluation Rubric
Yes/No/? N/A or Other Content - complete information - redundancy - well organized/ clearly labelled - grammar/ spelling/ punctuation - curriculum links - appropriate use and exploitation of medium (value-added through technology) - appropriate use/balance of a variety of media formats (audio, video, images, text, etc.) - quality of links to other sites - amount of original content? Teacher use - usability - Can content be used in classroom as is? - easy to adapt? - proper sequencing? Equity - accessibility features or constraints Authorship - author/authors - contact person indicated - is WBLRD affiliation indicated? Creative Commons - terms of use - posted or declared copyright or copyleft Social affordances - quality of printable pages - Is it possible to interact with the site? (discussions boards, ability to contribute new content (usergenerated) - passive v. active content? - Is it possible to syndicate or redistribute the information? Comments

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Navigation - navigation (menus, consistency of navigation, etc.) - intuitive design (ease of use: links, text, buttons, uploading, downloading - first page indicates site organization - internal navigation (without relying on web browser return button) System requirements - visuals and multi-media features - band-width issues - other Visual Presence - first page info (i.e.: how-to use site notes) - aesthetics - readability (colours, contrast, font, etc.) - avoidance of excessive scrolling - avoidance of excessive distractions (animated .gifs, for example) - suitability to web medium Innovation - comment on innovative character of site

Overall impression / General comments:

Evaluator: _____________________________

Date: ________________________

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LEXICON2 Blog.* A website in which items are posted on a regular basis and displayed in reverse chronological order. The term blog is a shortened form of weblog or web log. Authoring a blog, maintaining a blog or adding an article to an existing blog is called ‘blogging’. Individual articles on a blog are called ‘blog posts,’ ‘posts’ or ‘entries.’ A person who posts these entries is called a ‘blogger. A blog comprises text, hyptertext, images and links (to other web pages and to video, audio and other files). (Wikipedia, 2006a) Folksonomy.* An unstructured, socially constructed classification system, A portmanteau word combining ‘folk’ and ‘taxonomy,’ [and] refers to the collaborative but unsophisticated way in which information is being categorized on the web. Instead of using a centralized form of classification, users are encouraged to assign freely chosen keywords (called tags) to pieces of information or data, a process known as tagging. (Wikipedia, 2006b) Open/Open Source. The term open used in the context of this research derives its meaning from the open source software movement and refers to any type of creative work (e.g,. essays, poetry, photography, audio, video, software) that is published in a format and licensed in a manner that allows and encourages the copy, editing, sharing, and distribution of that content. Podcasting.* The distribution of audio or video files, such as radio programs or music videos, over the internet using either RSS or Atom syndication for listening on mobile devices and personal computers. RSS (Rich Site Summary).* “The technology of RSS allows Internet users to subscribe to websites that have provided RSS feeds; these are typically sites that change or add content regularly” (Wikipedia, 2006). Social Affordances.* The way in which software is designed to promote or encourage social collaboration and participation. It is an expansion of the term object affordance, coined by perceptual psychologists who advance the idea that certain objects provide suggestions as to how individuals act with and onto them (e.g., if one sees a bench, one may feel they should sit or lie down on it). Tags/Tagging. See folksonomy, above.

2

Terms denoted by an asterisk initially appear in Couros & Brogden (2006).

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Wiki. A wiki is software that allows users to easily create and edit online resources, linking pages together, using a model of collaborative, public authorship. Wikis are becoming increasingly popular with teachers for developing collaborative websites.

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