Grants/Development of “Photovoice Online” an Innovative Teaching Technology

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Development of a Photovoice Database Resource Center

Applicants: Beth Perry, Margaret Edwards, Cynthia Menzies
Affiliation: Athabasca University
CC affiliated? No
Contact: Beth Perry
Coordinator: Beth Perry
Project Start: 2010/09/01
Project End: 2011/08/31
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Describe the project you are proposing as clearly as possible in just five sentences.

Teaching online requires inventive approaches on the part of the teacher in order to facilitate an optimum educational experience. A research strategy called “photovoice” (Wang & Burris, 1997) has been adapted by the applicants to become an interactive online teaching technology (Perry, 2006). The photovoice (PV) teaching strategy involves the use of digital images combined with reflective question that challenge student thinking on course topics. As online educators we have explored the use of photovoice (PV) in graduate classes in the Masters of Nursing and Masters of Leadership Programs at Athabasca University. On initial assessment it appears that PV has great potential to influence the online learning experience in a positive way. Specifically PV appears to focus student attention, stimulate creative thinking, and help create community in the online environment (Perry, 2006). The project we propose primarily involves the creation of a sharable database of previously created PV learning objects that could be used by educators in many disciplines.

Detail the tangible project output (e.g., paper, blog post, written materials, video/film, etc.; this would be in addition to the final written report that successful grant recipients will be expected to deliver to CC at the conclusion of the project).

The outcomes of this project would be: a shareable database resource centre for educators who would like to use PV and the dissemination of details regarding the PV online teaching strategy including how to use it and possible positive benefits of PV. If funds permit additional outcomes would be guidance of new users of PV in the design of research to evaluate the effect of PV on their classes/students and the creation of additional PV teaching objects for the database.

Describe the community you are targeting. How would the project benefit the community?

The community targeted is online educators in any discipline. Specifically the purpose of the project is to develop a database resource center of PV teaching objects and inform online educators re the availability and usefulness of this tool. The most tangible outcome would be a unique, highly usable, creative interactive teaching technology and a database of photovoice images and associated questions. The database could be used by online educators in many fields including education, nursing and health, science, and />

What is your relationship with the community you are targeting? Why are you the best individual/organization to lead this project? Do you have prior experience in related projects?

The primary and co-applicant have been teaching online at Athabasca University for more than 10 years in both undergraduate and graduate courses in the Faculty of Health Disciplines. We use creative teaching strategies to engage learners and encourage them to take risks and achieve high levels of academic accomplishment. We believe strongly in the importance on interaction in the online classroom and invent and use teaching approaches that make us more real to virtual learners. Currently we are leading a funded study focused on artistic pedagogical technologies (APTs), online teaching tools founded in the arts. Photovoice is one of these strategies that has already shown potential. However PV is not well known in the online teaching community and a prepared database of PV teaching objects (the goal of this project) would provide other online teachers with a resource they could use in their own teaching. We are the best people for this project because we have experience with PV, we have a beginning library of photovoice teaching objects (not currently in a shareable database) and the ability to develop more.

In 2009 we presented our preliminary research findings related to PV in a concurrent session at the ICDE World Conference on Open Learning and Distance Education in The Netherlands. Following the presentation there have been many requests from potential PV users for the database we propose to create with this project.

How will you measure and evaluate your project’s impact - on your main participants? Other contributors? On the larger community?

Once the PV database and resource center is developed and offered to the online teaching community the use could be tracked. The more users who access and employ PV in their courses the more successful the project would be. We propose that we follow-up with those who access the database and use PV in their courses to determine the impact of the teaching strategy on students and instructors. We are currently studying the effect of PV in selected courses using several measures focused on students and instructors who consent to participant. These measures are the Social Presence Scale (Richardson & Swan, 2003) and the Classroom Cohesion Scale (Rovai, 2002). We could assist new users of PV to design similar research studies to increase our knowledge regarding the usefulness of this teaching strategy.

Another indication of success of the project would be if users contribute PV teaching objects that they develop to the database resource center.

How many participants do you expect to be involved in your project? How will you seek and sustain their involvement?

Our research team would head the project. The team includes Margaret Edwards, RN, PhD, Professor and Associate Dean, Athabasca University, Cynthia Menzies, BEd, MHS (student), Athabasca University, and Beth Perry, RN, PhD, Associate Professor, Faculty of Health Disciplines, Athabasca University.

We anticipate that the PV database resource center once created could be accessed by many educators worldwide (English speaking). We would solicit a group of approximately 20 users to test the database once it is established. Once the database is functional we would advertise its availability on CC sites, in scholarly conference presentations and papers published in academic journals read by online teachers.

Describe how your project will benefit Creative Commons' mission to increase the amount of creativity (cultural, educational, and scientific content) in "the commons".

Photovoice is a creative teaching strategy. Online teachers need creative teaching technologies that maximize interaction, social presence, and community. Our team published findings related to three interactive online teaching technologies (PV, virtual reflective centers, and conceptual quilting) demonstrating positive educational outcomes (Perry & Edwards, 2005; Perry & Edwards, 2006; Perry, Dalton, & Edwards, 2009). Interestedly these three strategies are founded in the arts (visual arts and drama). Such artistic approaches value aesthetics as well as reason (Schneiderman, 2005). The aesthetic nature of artistic based pedagogues links them to creativity. The worth of the arts as a teaching tool has been recognized in face-to-face education (Brett-McLean, 2007) yet the translation of creativity and artistic pedagogy to the online classroom seems to be a new idea. Researchers say there is a need to move from traditional pedagogies which no longer satisfy today’s learner and to “develop and implement alternative interpretative pedagogies” (Brown, Kirkpatrick, Magnum, & Avery, 2008, p. 283). The creation of the PV database resource center would provide users of "the commons" with access to a new creative teaching resource and direction related to how it could be used.

Describe what technologies and tools your project will use. What kinds of technical skills and expertise do you bring to the project? What are your technical needs?

This project will require technical assistance with the development of a searchable database resource center that will house the PV images and affiliated questions. Funds could also assist in the development of additional PV teaching objects (digital photography and question development) and in categorizing and cross-listing these. Assistance would also be used to disseminate information about the existence of the database resource center, how to use PV, and how to design research studies to capture an understanding of the effect of PV on online students/courses. This project would need database development expertise and PV teaching object development skills.

What challenges do you expect to face, and how do you plan to overcome them?

Challenges would be minimal. We have an idea for a creative teaching tool and a vision for how this resource could be accessed and used by educators. What we need is the technical assistance to take the teaching objects we have and put them into a database resource center that users can access. With appropriate technical expertise to establish and maintain this database we will have the first step in success.

The second challenge involves keeping the database updated and making it larger by adding new images and questions. This could be addressed by having design and technical assistance approximately 1 day per month for the first year. It is anticipated that as this resource center becomes more well known users would contribute their own PV teaching objects to the database helping it to remain current and to grow.

The third challenge is making potential users aware of this resource. This would be accomplished by sharing the resource on "the commons," presenting research related to PV at conferences, and publishing articles related to the project/PV teaching tool.

Finally, the challenge of encouraging research related to the effect of PV on online courses and students would be overcome by assisting users with examples of research designs used successfully.

How do you plan to sustain your project after the Creative Commons funding has ended? Detail specific plans. How do you plan to raise revenue to continue your efforts in the future?

Once established the database resource center would require very little ongoing funding. Additional development and updating of PV teaching objects could be provided by the users as noted above. If additional funds are required to sustain the project, grants would be sought from other funding agencies such as the Western Regional Canadian Association of Nurses who has funds dedicated to innovative educational projects.

How can this project be scalable, or have a scalable impact?

Yes it is scalable. Additional PV teaching objects could be added to the database to enlarge the amount of teaching material available and to make it useful to educators from a larger variety of disciplines. Additional users could be added as the teaching strategy becomes more well known and popular in educational communities. It may be necessary to add capacity to the system as the amount of educational material offered increases.

What resources and support do you expect Creative Commons to provide to your project to ensure its success (if any)?

Technical assistance with database resource center development and opportunities to make Creative Commons members aware of the PV resource are the two primary needs for this project to succeed. If additional funds are available resources would be used to develop the library of PV teaching objects and to assist users with research design to build our combined knowledge regarding the effects of PV on online courses and students.

Describe how your organization currently communicates with its community members and network partners. (100 words)

Athabasca University is a leader in open and distance university education. It is well positioned to reduce barriers to post-secondary learning for students around the world. Communication with stakeholders worldwide (students, faculty, support staff, researchers, governments, policy makers, alumni) is largely through electronic means.