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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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1

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-to-
face 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, full-
time 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 age-
appropriate. 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).

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 end-
user
• 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).

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 Web-
Based 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 French-
language 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),
13

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)
14

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
15

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
16

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)
17

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.
18

• 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 time-
shifted, 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.
19

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.
20

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).
21

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 resource-
centre 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-913f-
dc9430892480
22

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
23

APPENDICES
24

APPENDIX A

Guiding Questions for Semistructured, Open Interviews


25

Guiding Questions for Semistructured, Open Interviews

1. Describe your role with the WBLRD. For what period were you involved? What activities
were you involved in?

2. Did you feel that benefited from being involved with the WBLRD? Why or why not?

3. There has been some feedback that the WBLRD provided positive learning and
professional development opportunities for teachers. Would you agree or disagree? Why?

4. 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?

5. 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?

6. 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?

Additional questions used for French Interviews:

7. Choix de langue de travail.

8. What do you see as the strengths and areas in need of further development specific to
French language content development?

9. 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?

10. What might the DEF consider doing in the way of PD to support use of further
development of WBLRD resources?

11. Autres commentaires ou observations?


26

APPENDIX B

WBLRD Resource Evaluation Rubric


27

WBLRD Resource Evaluation Rubric


Yes/No/?
N/A or Other Comments
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 (user-
generated)
- passive v. active content?
- Is it possible to syndicate or
redistribute the information?
28

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: ________________________


29

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).
30

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.